6 June 2004
Exodus 20:12, Ephesians 5:21 & Romans 12:10
The Westminster Shorter Catechism
Q. 63. Which is the fifth commandment?
A. The fifth commandment is, Honour thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
Q. 64. What is required in the fifth commandment?
A. The fifth commandment requireth the preserving the honour, and performing the duties, belonging to everyone in their several places and relations, as superiors, inferiors, or equals.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism in Modern English:
Q.63. What is the fifth commandment?
A. The fifth commandment is: Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
Q.64. What does the fifth commandment require?
A. The fifth commandment requires us to respect and treat others, whether above, below, or equal to us, as their position or our relationship to them demands.
1. What is meant by “father and mother” in this commandment?
The terms “father and mother” mean not only the natural parents of a person, but also those in authority over him in age and in gifts.
2. Does that mean there are superiors and inferiors and equals in the sight of God?
Yes, the terms “father and mother” indicate those who are superior in their gifts from God whether it be in the realm of age or ability. The term “inferiors” indicates there are those who must subject themselves to the authority of others. The term “equals” indicates there are those brethren that are equal in ability, age, place or dignity.
3. Do the things taught in this commandment extend to other realms?
Yes, not only does it mean parents and children but it extends to husbands and wives, to masters and servants, to rulers and their subjects, to ministers and congregations, to older and younger. Although the commandment speaks specifically, and our answers following are primarily concerning the parent-child relationship, its requirements are applicable in other relationships as well.
4. What are the duties of the inferiors to their superiors?
The duties of inferiors towards superiors are to honour them, inwardly and outwardly; to listen to their instructions; to obey their commands; to meekly accept their reproofs; to love them; to care for them when necessary.
5. What are the duties of superiors towards inferiors?
The duties of superiors toward inferiors are: To love and care for them; to train them in the knowledge of the Scriptures; to pray for them; to keep them under subjection; to encourage them by kindness and reproof; to prepare them for the future.