Romans 13:7 (ESV)  Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.


I’ve seen it too many times; parents who are meddling – yes meddling in their adult children’s lives.  The kids just don’t know how to handle it.  If they stand up for themselves they are told they are not honoring their parents (even parents who are not religious have said this).  Funny how some use the Bible like an axe to wound instead of a key to grant freedom sometimes, isn’t it?  Kids understand they are supposed to honor their parents, but they are unsure how this is done.  First of all, there is a difference between honoring and obeying.  As a child growing up in our parents’ home, we honor our parents primarily by obeying them in the Lord.  As we become adults, we honor our parents differently.  I have started to teach young couples about this concept during premarital counseling and I teach the parents during the wedding rehearsal. 

There is an often overlooked, yet very important ritual at the beginning of most weddings.  The wedding begins with the processional.  At the end of this processional is the bride walking arm-in-arm with her dad and stopping in front of the alter.  At some point I ask the question, “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?”  The dad answers something like, “Her mother and I do.”  Then he takes his darling little girl and places her hand into the hands of “some guy” and sits down.  This is a far more pivotal event than most people think.  This simple ritual represents a “changing of the guard.”  The parent/child relationship will never be the same.  The couple is about to promise to love, honor, and obey each other. 

It is possible to love and honor more than one person, but it is not always possible to obey more than one.  At the moment Dad places his little girl into the custody of “some guy,” he is transferring his authority to the new family.  The responsibility to honor their parents never goes away, but the way that they honor their parents is no longer expressed in obedience.  It can be in listening to the advice of the more experienced human being.  It can be in observing important dates in the life of the family.  It can be expressed in showing sincere appreciation for all the parents have done in the children’s lives.  The authority to tell the children what to do is done.  The same thing happens when a child moves out of the parents’ home to make their own way in the world, but it is dramatically played out at a wedding.

I have not always honored my parents the way I should.  There was a time I felt they were not “worthy” of honor.  To be sure, not everything I experienced in my family is supposed to be honored, but I have found there is a lot that is, and those things I will honor.  My parents were there for me whenever I needed them, and as an adult, they never told me what to do.  My kids are adults now and I will honor my girls in the same way.  Even when I desperately want to tell them what to do!