13 June 2004
The Westminster Shorter Catechism
Q. 65. What is forbidden in the fifth commandment?
A. The fifth commandment forbiddeth the neglecting of, or doing anything against, the honour and duty which belongeth to everyone in their several places and relations.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism in Modern English:
Q. 65. What does the fifth commandment forbid?
A. The fifth commandment forbids being disrespectful to or not treating others as their position or relationship to us demands.
1. What are the sins of the superiors?
The sins of the superiors include the following: the neglect of those who are under their authority; the seeking of their own glory in the midst of their responsibility; the encouraging of inferiors into things that are wrong; the wrong use of authority toward inferiors, thus provoking them to wrath; the exposing of inferiors to wrong or temptation to wrong; the subjecting of the inferiors to a bad example because of wrong conduct.
2. What are the sins of the inferiors?
The sins of the inferiors include the following: the neglect of obeying their superiors; the sin of envy toward their superiors; the act of rebellion toward those who are their superiors; the sin of wrong conduct against those in command; the showing of dishonour toward their superiors and the government they represent.
3. What are the sins of equals?
The sins of equals include the following: the neglect of Christian love one toward another; the despising of those that are good; the sin of envy because an equal has been blest by God with a gift greater than one’s own; the lack of rejoicing at the success of an equal; the usurping of pre-eminence over equals when such pre-eminence has not been granted by God.
4. Do these sins relate to all relationships of man?
Yes, these sins are applicable to the relationships of man whether they be parent-child, husband-wife, master-servant, ruler-subject, minister-congregation, older-younger relationships.
5. In what areas of our lives today does this commandment relate?
It is pertinent in the family relationships, in the church relationships, in employment relationships and in the civic relationships. Sin in any of these areas is sin in the sight of God.