Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Christian Liberty and Its Relationship to Honor of Parents

Parts One and Two and Three

As I've written within the previous posts on Christian liberty, many adhere, especially evangelicals and many fundamentalists, to the notion that Christians have liberty wherever scripture does not speak in an explicit manner -- meaning that if the very words of whatever it is that is possibly prohibited are not found in scripture, then someone has liberty to do it.  That's not good for people to be thinking, anyone and particularly Christians, because it isn't true.  It goes further though.

Professing Christians are so messed up about the grace of God, that they think that they are partakers of more grace when they participate in these activities that they say can't be proven by scripture.  As the shorts on a woman creep further up her leg, they are showing how deep and wide she is embracing God's grace, diving into His broad river of love and letting it wash all over her.  Grace almost exclusively shortens her skirt, not lengthens, makes his rock music rock even harder, and expands their list of alcohol choices.  In reality, this viewpoint is an old perversion.

The most common deviation from God's grace in the United States is not adding works to grace, but what Jude says the ungodly do, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness (Jude v. 4).  2 Peter 2 is similar to Jude, and Peter says that these servants of corruption promise liberty.  They allure through the lusts of the flesh.  It's a popular grace that isn't about God, but about what you want to do.  This brings me to the main point of this post.

Eight times scripture commands either "honour thy father and mother" or "honour thy father and thy mother."  It's all over the Bible, both Old and New Testaments -- Exodus, Deuteronomy, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Ephesians.  There are also verses like Proverbs 23:22, "Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old," several like that one.  What if a father tells his child to do something that he doesn't think is taught in the Bible?  He might not be sure, but he thinks he might have liberty.  In many cases today, it isn't even liberty, it's just one of these "fake areas" of liberty, that relate to no direct, word-for-word prohibition, as I talked about above.

Does a child have liberty to dishonor his parents?  When I say this, I'm not talking about disobedience or transgression of scripture.  I know young people right now who aren't obeying scripture because their parents told them not to.  They know they are disobedient, and yet they don't want to "dishonor" their parents by obeying scripture.  That is in the category, I've mentioned in another post, obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).

Just the opposite today, the world is full of young people, 18 and older, who don't honor their parents in either areas of liberty or areas of "fake liberty" or a perversion of liberty.  It isn't the grace of God, but turning the grace of God into lasciviousness.  They're all over the place.  They think it's even what it means to be "out on their own."   They call this "having their own convictions."  They aren't convictions.  They are violations of Christian liberty.  No one has the liberty to dishonor his parents.

The idea of a conviction among evangelicals has become very personalized.  A conviction is yours with the emphasis on you.  It's yours.  To have it be yours, the thought here among the youngest adults is, you can't have it be your parents.  That would theirs and not yours. That would make you too much of a child.  Almost definitionally, children want to do something different for the conviction to be theirs.  This signals independence to them, what it means to be an adult.

A conviction to be an actual conviction must be scriptural and what I see from many young people today is that they want their own convictions, but they haven't taken the time to study the Bible, know what it says, about the convictions.  Young adults look around at what other people are doing who call themselves Christians, and practice like they do.  Now they have their own conviction, except it isn't a conviction.  They treat it like a conviction, because they keep doing it even if someone encourages them to take a conviction, an actual conviction, like their parents have done, which means something studied out from scripture and likely in agreement with the rest of their church.

I believe and have instructed that as children become adults that they take the same positions as their parents.  They should change only if they have a conviction, an actual conviction to do so, and that is only where they see the change as necessary for obedience to scripture.  If it is a Christian liberty, children should just keep practicing like their parents out of honor to their parents, because scripture commands to honor parents.

There is a specific passage that will help on this.  Read Jeremiah 35 and the tale of the Rechabites.  Verses 6 and 8 of that chapter say,
But they said, We will drink no wine: for Jonadab the son of Rechab our father commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons for ever. . . . Thus have we obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab our father in all that he hath charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, nor our daughters.
It wasn't just drinking no wine, but a few other particular instructions of their father that they did, just because he told them to do them.  Some of them are in the category of non-scriptural issues.  Read them.  They obeyed them alone because he had told them to do these things.  Read the whole chapter, but this is how it turned out for them (verses 18-19):
And Jeremiah said unto the house of the Rechabites, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts, and done according unto all that he hath commanded you: Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me for ever.
They honored their father and God honored them for honoring their father.  They did this for hundreds of years over many generations.  One generation after another passed down the same beliefs and practices, that weren't necessarily biblical commands or explicit to practice, and God honored them for it.

A family could be preserved if it honored its father.  A nation could be preserved if offspring honored its father.  We wouldn't be seeing the degradation of society, the downward trend and trajectory toward destruction.

How again does honor of parents relate to Christian liberty?  If the parents instruct to disobey scripture, of course adult children don't do that.  If the parents instruct in non-scriptural, not unscriptural but non-scriptural, areas, the children honor their parents and do what their parents instruct.  Children do not have liberty to dishonor parents.

As a parent, I attempt to allow my children or give them Christian liberty.  I want them to have liberty in those areas.  I try to speak not in my preferences, but in what scripture teaches.  Now, my children might think they have liberty in areas I don't think they do, but either way, they don't have the liberty to dishonor me or their mother.  I'm giving myself as an example, I know.  It's something I expect of my own children, but I also expect it of myself with my own parents.  It's been important to me that I honor them with what I do and how I treat them.

Christians don't have liberty to dishonor their parents.


Anonymous said...

Let's play this out. You clearly believe that the Bible teaches that women should not wear pants. So here are a few scenarios:

1) Your daughter is 35 and unmarried. She lives on her own. Does she have to avoid pants because you tell she should?

2) Your daughter is married to a man. He tells her that she does not have to wear pants but you say she should. Who should she obey?

3) Your son is married. Do you have control over his wife's wardrobe by commanding him that he is to tell her she cannot wear pants?

Kent Brandenburg said...


I'll answer you hypotheticals, even though none of them at this point are true. I have some other comments about the question, and I'll give them. First, though.

Do you disagree with the thrust of the post? You start with what the Bible actually teaches and then go to practice. Does scripture teach what I'm writing above? We're talking matters of Christian liberty.

Last, this post was not about women wearing pants. However, do you think that it's wrong for a woman to wear skirts and dresses? Is she sinning to wear skirts and dresses? Does she have liberty, in other words, to wear them?


David Warner said...


If I could answer at least number one on your hypotheticals, but...

First, who's "Anonymous"?

"Honor thy father and thy mother" doesn't really have an age limit. I am sure one would honor his parents even when they are old, for Proverbs would instruct to honor the hoary head.

Furthermore, Genesis 25:20 says, "And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife." If you read through Genesis 24, you find that Abraham took leadership of Isaac's choice of marriage. Isaac was forty years old, and he submitted himself to the leadership of his father in this matter. According to I Corinthians 7:39, whom someone marries is a liberty; however, only in the Lord. Scripture does not give the exact name of the person to marry. Even these non-Scriptural issues have biblical guidelines which must be obeyed. The Abraham/Isaac story is a biblical example that would help answer your first hypothetical.

Now the matter you are bringing up does not relate to the post. Christian liberty and Honoring parents is the post, not about issues that Scripture is clear on. I suspect, though, that this comment section might go off topic.

This is just a quick answer, and I know more can be said. I am sure Pastor Brandenburg will do well to answer the rest and give more to what I said.


Anonymous said...

Let's say that I don't know if I disagree with the thrust of the post. I am not confident that either of the following is true:

1) Honor specifically means to obey in the way you imply it does.
2) Even if #1 is true, adult children that have become independent are obligated to obey as children are.

I know that you believe that both are true but I am unconvinced.

I do definitely disagree with your views on women wearing pants but that does not matter. I am not attacking you for your view on that. I am simply using it in my hypothetical because that is one of those things you have made your opinions crystal clear on. So yes, to answer your question, from my perspective, a woman has liberty to wear pants.

Again, it is clear that you don't believe that about pants which is one of the problems. I think you would claim that that is not your preference but what the Bible teaches. Most would disagree with you. So when your children disagree with you and conclude it is just your preference, what is their obligation then (this is a 4th hypothetical)?

Kent Brandenburg said...


This is good, because we are talking about the post. We must know what it means to honor father and mother because God commanded it and scripture is perspicuous. We have examples in scripture. I gave one, the Rechabites. God honored them for following their father's instruction even though none of those was likely a scriptural issue, all non-scriptural, yet wise behavior. You said nothing about that example. Then David Warner comes and gives more examples. I believe there are more to guide this. He gave Abraham with Isaac, which is legitimate, and then 1 Cor 7:36-39, which is related directly to this issue of which you speak at least for a single woman. Look at that entire section.

If we can't know what honor is, then we can't know what honoring parents is. We should assume we can know. 1 Timothy 5:1 says, rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father. Interesting, but we can know what it is to rebuke and entreat. Proverbs 30 talks about a certain kind of "look" being unacceptable, like body language. You've heard, is there nothing sacred anymore? Unless we can know what is sacred, then there won't be. Philippians 4:8 says to think of that which is lovely. Can you obey that command if we don't know what is lovely? All of that is application that should be assumed.

Designed gender distinction, wearing the symbol of manhood or womanhood, is taught in the Bible, and then the church followed that instruction with the application I'm talking about. There are male items and female items, distinct ones, and men and women are not to wear them, and this argues from or relates from God's design, which is why is an abomination. I wasn't talking about pant-skirt, because I don't see those as areas of liberty. Scripture actually teaches what I believe, so for my family, that isn't a liberty. If you read the whole series, especially parts one and two, you would see that I believe that is a perversion of Christian liberty, both biblical and historical. Just because people disagree doesn't mean something is a liberty. I encourage you to read all four parts.

However, I was asking you if it was permissible for a woman, she had liberty, to wear skirts or dresses. You never answered that. You instead said she has liberty to wear pants. I didn't ask that. I assumed that from your hypotheticals. I was asking if she had the liberty to wear dresses and skirts. I would still like you to answer that.

I believe we can know what honor is. Honor would be to follow instructions like the Rechabites. I was tracking a little with the Paul Manafort trial and the judge in that trial confronted a lawyer for answering him, "yeah." The judge said this is a formal proceeding, not informal. He didn't tell him, say "yes." He expected formality. Does it matter that a judge or the law be treated in a formal way?

I believe honor is more than following instructions, but at least that. This is good to flesh out though, Anonymous.

Anonymous said...

I am trying to be charitable here which is why I am conceding your positions on these two issues (what honor is and women wearing pants) for the purpose of discussion. I am not going into what I really think about those things but let's just say that I am not enormously impressed with your defense of your position. A few anecdotes from the OT (one from a family weird even for that time) is hardly prescriptive on us.

However, that is not the point. I am happy to temporarily accept your position and also happy to swap out women wearing pants for a dozen other things. I chose that one because it is easy. Pants are pants and dresses are dresses. If we hotswapped the topic of music, that would work but would make things even harder for you because that is an area where in spite of what you say, things are much less easier to categorize. Are you as a non-music expert really going to admit that you have the right to go through your adult daughter's music collection and tell her what is OK? Pants is much easier.

So again, let's say you are right on pants and what honor is. Are you willing to engage in my hypotheticals which of course are common real life scenarios and state how you believe they should be handled? If not, why?

Theophilus Chilton said...

Anonymous - So you're essentially admitting that your position is not scriptural. Thank you for clearing that up (though the rest of us already knew it).

Kent Brandenburg said...


I can go further on honor, anonymous. You honor someone by giving preference to that person, not to yourself (Rom 12:10). That person is esteemed above you (1 Sam 2:30). Honor in scripture is related to position -- God is honored because He is above you, and this is also the case with a King. Parents are honored because of their position in a family, that they retain the rest of their life and this is all the way through the Bible.
Isaiah 29:13 is informative on honor: "Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men." In Leviticus 19:30, children honor their parents by continuing to obey the Sabbath. Obedience to scripture continues to honor parents. An adult child dishonors his parents by living a lifestyle contradictory to that of his parents and of society, including disobedience, stubbornness, rebelliousness, drunkenness, and gluttony (Deuteronomy 21:18-21).

Scripture actually doesn't say that adult children can disobey their parents. There is no limitation on this in scripture, if that matters as an authority. They are to listen to their parents and obey them (Proverbs 1:8, 6:20). The bad consequences for disrespect for parents is portrayed in Proverbs 30:17, Matthew 15:4-5, and Mark 7:10-13. The ungodly disobey parents (2 Tim 3:2, Rom 1:30). Again and again, scripture says, hearken and obey parents. None of this is qualified as "only children." The example David Warner gave is an adult, Isaac, in Genesis 24, the longest chapter in Genesis. They are even adult single women under their father's authority in 1 Corinthians 7:36-38, which comes out of Numbers 30. Proverbs 22:6 says that you train up the child and when he is old, he doesn't depart from it. When he is old, he doesn't depart from it. That way is the scriptural way, which is how that Hebrew term is used through the Old Testament.

Yes, there is an exception, unscriptural issues. Children, adult or otherwise, should disobey if it means disobeying God. That's the one lone exception in scripture.

I'm talking about areas of liberty and say that children should honor their parents in areas of Christian liberty. If parents want their children to follow their same belief and practice, children should do that. To do so is to disobey them, but it's also to dishonor them.

This post is not about a parent being able to enforce this obedience, speaking of a son who has left home or a married daughter. It's about the son and daughter honoring their parents, not the parents' responsibility toward their children. I said nothing about that. You still didn't answer whether a woman has liberty to wear a dress or a skirt. It was important for answering your hypotheticals. If it's not wrong for her to wear a dress or skirt, she should do that out of honor to her parents -- obedience to them too, by the way, but they should be honored in areas where she has liberty to practice, and I'm assuming that you think she has liberty to dress in a way to honor her parents.

For 1), the 35 year old single daughter is still under authority of her father (1 Cor 7:36-38). She should dress like her father says she should. For 2), the son and daughter should honor the parents in areas of Christian liberty. He isn't right to order her to do something that dishonors her parents. Could this happen? Sure. If she is in that situation, I would assume she's already got a problem. And 3), my son isn't married, but he would dishonor me and my wife if he and his wife didn't believe and practice like we do. As that relates to this post, we're talking about scriptural or non-scriptural issues, not unscriptural ones. If they have liberty to do it, they should do what will honor us.

Kent Brandenburg said...


Disrespect or dishonor of parents is a much more rampant than children stilted or stifled in their desire to do what they want. The latter is happening incessantly and the former is quite rare, especially in the United States. Pushing for more leaving of parental influence is not good, but it is the direction people are taking, even as seen in anonymous's comments here. What he's writing is the new norm, against scripture.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for answering the questions. To clarify further:

1) The parents of a wife and the parents of a husband disagree on something and both believe they are scripturally right. Which parents are chosen to be honored?
2) A wife's husband disagrees with her parents on something and from a scripturally-based perspective. Do you want to clarify your position that it isn't right for him to order her to do something that dishonors her parents? (What I am trying to get at here is who is really in charge of a marriage: the parents or the husband?)

To answer your question, I believe that a woman has a freedom to wear a skirt or dress. I however would expect that there are some women who have good and scripturally based reasons why they should not always wear a skirt or dress. Those women I suppose would not have liberty.

I am perplexed at the accusation you made in your last comment. I am not pushing anything here. I have basically rolled over and played dead on two issues simply to ask questions. You should be more careful about making judgments and assigning motives. I have noticed you do often and in a cavalier fashion.

Kent Brandenburg said...


Questions are the strongest form of negation. Jesus used them like that. It's one of the tools of lawyers with witnesses. Your questions are not information style questions. They are these negation style questions. Read the ones you wrote with an open mind. Then you make certain derogatory statements in the comments that go along with those questions. I could point out the specifics, but I think you know what I'm talking about. If the point I made is false though, I don't mind being corrected. You didn't do that. You just said I shouldn't assume. I wasn't just assuming. Your questions and your derogatory statements revealed that.

In answer to your question, the context of honor your parents isn't, honor them by violating principles of Christian liberty or just disobeying scripture. I know certain dads would be honored if their sons would take off on Sunday to go bowling with them during church. This is why there is other instruction in scripture from Jesus, hating father, mother, etc. (Mt 10:32-40, Lk 14:26). It's also related in scripture with honoring God. God isn't honored by getting close to sin. He says, flee fornication, and Old Testament Israel is used as an example of not doing that, when they associated with the world.

I write the previous paragraph to say that honor is related to God in scripture. If there are two different beliefs and practices held by the two sets of parents, which there might be, the one obedient to God is the choice, the one that honors God. You could take a position that would not violate what either of them believe, and that's the stronger, less lax, position. It's what you do when you go to a church with a stronger position. You just follow what it does out of honor to that church. If it doesn't violate scripture, you can do that. It sounds like what you're saying is something like, if one likes Christian rock, you'd be honoring that person by listening to it. If that parent isn't offended with sacred music, let's say more conservative music, then you aren't dishonoring that person. I would think you knew this.

It's like going to a wedding. You could only offend by dressing too casual.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the discussion and answering the questions. I will leave it at that.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks Anonymous.