"In your words you are also to behave respectfully toward [your parents] and are not to speak discourteously to them, to criticize them, or to take them to task, but rather to submit to them and hold your tongue, even if they go too far." --Martin Luther
Why did Luther have to include honoring others in authority with honoring father and mother? It's hard enough honoring my parents. They've been good parents. They've sacrificed, worked hard, gone through agony for my sake and my brothers' sake--and they've been of good cheer for the most part. Even still, honoring them is still hard to the end that Luther writes regarding this commandment.
Last week's sermon by Bishop Rob Hofstad got me thinking about grace. Sometimes I am the giver of grace, sometimes I am the receiver of grace. Sometimes I don't know which one I am. I am now a parent and a son. I am a person of authority and one who is under authority of someone else. I want respect from those within my range of authority, but I also am called to give respect to those in authority in my life. What does it mean to criticize. Does respect mean to take everything from someone in authority at face value. I often learn from people in my range of authority, and I wouldn't learn as much if they didn't ask questions. I have been humbled by this commandment and Luther's interpretation as I have lived into adulthood. And the questions hang over my head, what about abusive situations? This is a challenging commandment interpretation. I think that God didn't get specific for this very reason. Luther is probably a bit off on the interpretation and that God had it right the first time around, so to speak.
How can honoring your parents become a spiritual practice for you?
I've been thinking about what I can do for my parents to extend them grace lately. They've been a huge help for us since we've moved here from South Dakota, watching our daughters on most weekends since I've started at First Lutheran Community Church. I don't want them to feel like their lives are a babysitting service. To some degree they have made up for some lost time with the girls when we lived in South Dakota. But I also want them to know that I love them for who they are and not merely what they do. A few weeks ago I took my Dad to a Seattle University basketball game, and we made an evening out of it. I need to do the same for my mom. This has been a spiritual practice for me, because it takes intentionality to honor them--I can't merely assume it's going to happen. Honoring is a matter of intentional investment--much like my relationship with God.