Stable families are the foundation of strong nations. The Fifth Commandment shows us how to keep our families and nations strong. News headlines show that our Western society is confused about what makes up a family. Some are working mightily to convince the public that there should be a new definition of family. Let’s not sleep through this vital issue. Ask yourself: Can there actually be a new definition of family?
The homosexual lobby has made strategic moves to redefine the family by using the courts to legally approve same-sex marriages. Some homosexual couples have adopted children. Others have brought children into this world through artificial means. These couples desperately want recognition as family.
In the United States, Massachusetts was the first state to recognize same-sex marriages. The cities of San Francisco, California and several states have done the same. Some states have court cases pending. Same-sex marriage is legal in three provinces of Canada, as well as in the Netherlands and Belgium. Strong movements are pushing same-sex marriages in the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Spain. The fight is on. Homosexuals are calling their recent legal moves a real victory. We must recognize that there is much more going on here than concerns about insurance or tax benefits.
Here is the truth of the matter. The time-honored institutions of marriage and family are under vicious attack. In fact, these institutions have been under assault for decades. Informed people, including educators, journalists and newscasters, know there is a well-organized conspiracy against the traditional family. Do we see that the traditional family life is threatened? Since the 1960s, the new morality, rampant divorce and feminism have severely weakened the family. Now, the homosexual movement wants to deliver traditional family its final deathblow. Who is willing to stand up and fight for family?
We must come to recognize that to redefine the family is to destroy the family. Stable traditional families are the backbone of any strong nation. History shows that when family life—husband, wife and children—falls apart, so does the nation.
Questions are being asked and answered in the media: Is a family a husband and wife and children? Is it two men or two women in a so-called committed relationship and adopted children? Is it two men or two women with children conceived by artificial means? Yet, a more important question never considered is: Do human beings even have the authority to define what a family is?
The Fifth Commandment
In our series on the Ten Commandments, we have been showing you that the Ten Commandments is one Unified Eternal Law of Love. People are confused about how to love God and how to love each other. The commandments teach us how to do both. The Apostle John wrote, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous”(1 John 5:3). God gave man the commandments to help us truly love and experience real love in all of our relationships. The commandments are not a dreadful curse as so many believe.
The first four commandments define how to have the right relationship with God. Keeping these commandments preserves that relationship. The remaining six shows us how to have the correct relationships with other human beings. The Fifth Commandment is the first and most important of the final six. In fact, the Fifth Commandment, when understood in all of its depth, defines and safeguards the most basic of all human relationships—the family.
God spoke this command to the newly forming nation of Israel: “Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee” (Exodus 20:12). It is easy to recognize at first glance that this commandment requires children to both honor and obey their father and mother. Honor and obedience reflect true love. But when we stop and meditate on it, the commandment says a lot about family!
Notice that the commandment does not say honor your father and father, or your mother and mother. It states clearly honor your father and mother. This statement clears up all confusion about what constitutes a family. Here, and along with the Seventh and Tenth Commandments, is YHWH’s definition of family—a man and a woman bound in holy wedlock, and children. There are no other alternatives! When obeyed, these three commandments protect the God-designed institutions of marriage and family. We will cover the seventh and tenth in detail in future articles.
Stable Families = Strong Nations
The Fifth Commandment does not stop with a definition of family. There is much more. God also explains why all children must honor their parents. There is a serious life-and-death reason.
At the time of the giving of the Ten Commandments, Israel was at its very beginning as a nation. It was to be different than any other nation ever begun on Earth. It was to be God’s nation. He was to be its sole ruler. God gave the Fifth Commandment to the people of Israel so they could live long upon the land. Can you see the incredible knowledge here? Many other nations had already come and gone before Israel’s birth. God considered respect for parental authority as the key to a nation’s longevity!
The Fifth Commandment carries both a fantastic promise and a severe warning. That promise and warning are not just for Israel. Remember that the Ten Commandments are binding on all mankind. God simply made Israel aware of them first. God gave the Fifth Commandment to mankind so we could live long upon the Earth.
The Apostle Paul confirms these truths. He taught the Ephesians, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:1-3). Notice Paul’s in-depth teaching. He was the apostle to the Gentiles. And here Paul instructs the children of Gentile converts to keep the Fifth Commandment. Paul takes special effort to show that the Fifth Commandment is the first commandment with the promise of long life on the Earth. Paul applied this commandment to all people—not just those of his own nation.
God placed within the Fifth Commandment His revealed instruction that stable families make strong nations. When all children honor and obey parental authority, incredible blessings result, including peace, wealth and health. God warns us: Destroy the family unit through dishonor and disobedience, and our nations will suffer the miseries of crime, violence, war and eventual destruction!