Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which Yahweh your God gives you.Exodus 20:12
Within the kingdom of God, there would be many roles requiring to be fulfilled. While most people look to define and embrace roles like prophets, priests, teachers, helpers, there are no roles as basic and impactful as the roles within each family: husband and wife, mother and father.
This significance of man and woman in the kingdom is a basic building block upon which everything else is built. The male and female component is inherent within the DNA of the kingdom, right back to its origins in Genesis, in the Garden of Eden.
So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”Genesis 1:27-28
The very first royal edict of the kingdom had to do with man and woman reigning and having dominion over God’s Creation. In Hebrew culture, the father and the mother are therefore figures representing divine authority over the family. They are the representatives of God, made in his image, and to be respected as possessing and implementing the wisdom of God.
This is brought out throughout the biblical stories, but is most blatantly evident in the Proverbs.
Proverbs 1:8-9 – Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction, and do not forsake the teaching of your mother. For they are a garland of grace on your head and a pendant around your neck.
Proverbs 23:22 – Listen to your father, who gave you life, and don’t despise your mother when she is old.
Proverbs 15:20 – Sensible children bring joy to their father; foolish children despise their mother.
However, children who are disobedient to this most basic sense of authority are shown the end that results from choosing their own way.
Proverbs 19:26 – Children who mistreat their father or chase away their mother are an embarrassment and a public disgrace.
Proverbs 20:20 – If you insult your father or mother, your light will be snuffed out in total darkness.
Proverbs 28:24 – Anyone who steals from his father and mother and says, “What’s wrong with that?” is no better than a murderer.
Proverbs 30:17 – The eye that mocks a father and despises a mother’s instructions will be plucked out by ravens of the valley and eaten by vultures.
This recognition of the authority of the father and mother carries over into the kingdom dynamic of the New Testament as well:
Ephesians 6:1-3 Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.”
Paul writes here that this commandment to honor father and mother is the first command with a promise for well-being and long life. The idea is that a believing father and mother, as God’s agents, can provide the best guidance and direction that would lead to those things for the children who are obedient to their instruction.
The respect and honor of father and mother is therefore part of the eternal torah, or instruction, of God for all time. As the mother and father “rule” righteously over the kingdom of their family, they are fulfilling a role that is embedded within the Creation itself, a role that hearkens back through ancestral lines all the way to the original parents in the Garden. The Garden imagery of Paradise (the idealized kingdom) is therefore brought to life for each generation through every faithful father and mother.
As believing parents recognize this awesome responsibility of the authority they carry, the Kingdom of God can continue to grow in righteousness, honoring the original parents whom God set over all Creation.