BRADY COLUMN: Room For The Family

Published 3:17 pm Thursday, February 1, 2024

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The late Edith Schaefer, Christian author, brought a paper on “What is a Family?” Instead of involving herself in endless definitions, she gave several graphic “pictures” of the family. I found myself identifying with one of her word pictures. “The family,” Edith Schaffer said, “is…a place to grow people; a center for creativity; a place for safety and security and a transmitter of values.”

After reading Mrs. Schaffer’s list, I decided to add a word picture of my own. The family is a life-long environment of affirmation, appreciation, remembrance and attention. And in a Christian home, it is all of these plus “grace.” Thus, we come to what has been called the centerpiece of God’s law. “Honor your father and your mother as the Lord your God commanded you…”(Deuteronomy 5:16). God’s first four commandments establish our relationship to God, God’s last five commandments deal with our relationship with humankind. I reiterate, this fifth commandment, “Honor your father and mother” is God’s centerpiece. It is God’s bridge between our vertical relationship to God and our horizontal relationships with our brothers and sisters everywhere. Listen carefully, the family is the bridge by which God teaches us how we are to relate to all humankind. So, perhaps charity begins at home after all.

The Bergers, Peter and Brigette, in their book “The War Over the Family,” say that a person who has developed no family bonds will have a very hard time developing larger loyalties in later life. The normal process of such a development begins in the family and thus “moves out” to larger social groupings.

So, this fifth commandment, “Honor your father and mother” is far from being irrelevant, but is extremely important. As I see it, there are at least two clear messages here-one to children and one to parents.

First, to children, take your parents seriously! So how do we honor or respect our parents?

By loving them! Someone said. “Love is spelled T-I-M-E. You love someone when you spend time with them.

By forgiving them! This commandment isn’t speaking of what the past deserves. It is speaking of our forgiveness!

And by being grateful to them! Most of us can remember the the loving heritage of of our parents and we are grateful! We can continually express our gratitude.

One other thing! This fifth commandment is directed to all children, especially adult children.

Second, to the parents, be worthy of being taken seriously! The New Testament ethic itself is always a reciprocal ethic. It never lays all the duty on one side. If there is a duty on one side, there is always an equal duty on the other. Just as the child honors the parents, the parents must also honor the child. And parents do this by being honorable themselves. A few suggestions here for parental honorability will suffice. Parents can-refuse to have children if they are unwilling to raise them; shut doors of bad choices; remember that a good example is better than many words; keep in mind that children need nurturing; and introduce them to God.

A minister tells of a woman who worked as a secretary. She commented on a particular issue to her boss. He said to her, “Did you get that idea from that funny little church you go to?” At first, she was irritated, but when she regained her composure she replied, “I’m glad my funny little church shows.”

These funny little homes of ours show, too. God said, “Honor your father and your mother.”