What does it mean to honor your parents?
To honor means to show respect. Verses such as Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:15; Matthew 19:19; and Luke 18:20 paint a picture of how important it is to honor ones parents.
Does that apply to abusive parents as well? Unfortunately, the bible doesn’t make any exceptions. However, parents are instructed not to provoke (push/entice) their children to anger. Instead they are to teach and guide their children (Ephesians 6:4).
While many parents, (Christian parents), are quick to tell their kids to honor them, they fail to do the latter. Just because children are commanded to honor their parents doesn’t give the parent the right to abuse their position.
Countless children have been neglected, mistreated, abused (mentally, physically, sexually), and abandoned by their parents. As they reach adulthood they can’t fathom God instructing them to turn around and show respect to their abusers. – Well… God has and here’s why.
His Son Jesus. Jesus walked this earth completely and totally sin free. He gave His life so that we could have everlasting life (I Thessalonians 5:10). While Jesus walked this earth He gave clear instruction for believers to love their enemies and pray for those who mistreat them (Luke 6:35; 6:28). After all, Jesus did exactly that on the cross (“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” NIV Luke 23:35).
So yes, we are to honor our parents whether they deserve it or not. Does this mean that a person must stay in the abusive environment? No. God wants us to have life and live it abundantly/fully (John 10:10). A person can’t live a full life in bondage. To honor an abusive parent also doesn’t mean that you have to accept their abuse. If talking and reasoning won’t work with the abuser, then it’s wise to remove yourself from the situation altogether. God knows your heart and He knows how much you can bear. It’s best to pray for an abusive parent who refuses to change and love them from a distant than to continue to allow yourself to be abused.
Above all, FORGIVE them. This is more beneficial to you than it is for them. When you continue to hold on to the past you are allowing your abuser to continue to affect your life. Don’t give him/her that type of satisfaction!
Unforgiveness also hinders God’s forgiveness, and ultimately His blessings. Matthew 6: 14-15 says, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins (NIV)”. This means that the moment a person chooses not to forgive, every sin they commit from then on will not be forgiven. Your relationship with God will suffer without forgiveness and all in all, it’s not worth it. Unforgiveness plants a seed of bitterness in a person’s heart that robs a person of joy and peace. Don’t let the enemy steal this from you! The best solution is to forgive, love that person despite everything, and pray for them.
We know that this is a sensitive subject for some. There are people who allow themselves to be manipulated and mistreated simply because they feel God will punish them for standing up to their parents. What are your thoughts on this subject and what advice would you give an adult who has abusive parents? We love hearing testimonies and personal stories so please feel free to share!