By Lewis Willis
I find it a frightening thought when I contemplate the world in which our children and grandchildren will live. I heard on a news broadcast this morning that television sitcoms are simply mirroring the way things are in our country today. If that is so, I have witnessed the change which has occurred from Ozzie and Harriet to The Simpsons. I rather suspect that many, if not most, American homes have experienced this evolution. In the first instance, the parents were in charge and the children respected and obeyed them. In the latter, a big-mouthed kid is in charge, and the parents are depicted as dumb. Have we really allowed this to happen to the American home? I realize that both views of the family in these sitcoms have been somewhat extreme. However, there is more fact than fiction in the way the family is portrayed in them. It is with this in mind that I write this article. I would like to address it to our young people, whom I consider to be the best in the land. Young people, I would like to ask that you make every choice and decision you must make with the utmost care. Having been taught the Scriptures from childhood, you have a good understanding of the difference between right and wrong. You are blessed in this because not all young people know the difference. Let me suggest that you go to your parents, give them a big hug, and thank them for raising you in the way you should be raised. It is a shame that modern youth have not had the advantage which you enjoy.
Because they have not been raised properly, most young people do pretty much as they wish to do, without regard to the question of right or wrong. Not only do they live that way, they try to get you to do the same. That is why you must make difficult choices. The message I want to put in your mind is one of caution concerning those choices. You must realize that those choices and decisions you make now will affect your present happiness and well-being, as well as your eternal destiny. That is why they must be made so carefully. Let me focus your attention on what the Scripture says.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus saying, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first cornmandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth” (Eph. 6:1-3). Let’s note and discuss the things Paul said here.
1. Children are to obey their parents. This is one of the most reasonable things that could possibly occur. The parents bring the children into the world. They care for and sustain the children, providing them the things they need for life. Children should be grateful for this. We must be aware that God has always required that children obey their parents. There is a fearful statement made about a rebellious son who lived under the Mosaic Law. If he was stubborn and rebellious, he was to be taken by his parents to the men of the city and they were to stone him to death (Deut. 21:18-21). Though Christ does not require that rebellious children be stoned to death today, it must be known that He will eternally punish those who do not obey their parents.
2. This obedience is to be “in the Lord.” This puts a limit on the obedience of children to their parents. This means that if you can obey your parents and God, you are to do so. If they require that you disobey God in obeying them, you must obey God first. If a child obeys his parents rather than God, he shows that he loves them more than he loves God. Of course, you know that this is not right. Our young people are fortunate because they have Christian parents who want them to obey God first. Count your blessings, young people!
3. When children obey their parents in the Lord, Paul says, “this is right.” This is a requirement of God, so in obeying your parents, you obey God. Because this is “right,” it is understood that you could do “wrong” regarding this. Why should you obey your parents? The answer is, because it is right for you to do so. How do you know that? God said so!
4. Children were told to honor their father and mother. To honor your parents means that you are to faith-fully discharge the duties you owe them. You are to obey them in childhood, respect them throughout life, tenderly care for and support them in old age, with love and kindness at all times. Paul puts this responsibility on you today, just as Moses did when it was included in the Ten Commandments, written on tables of stone, at Sinai.
5. This commandment carries with it a promise. The promise is that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. These promised blessings come as a result of the character the child has who loves and honors his parents and God. He is preserved from the fatal ruin which befalls a stubborn and rebellious child. His obedience forms in him the habit of self-control, self-respect, diligence, faithfulness and kindness of heart, which guarantee happiness and success in life.
As I said earlier, the choices and decisions you make now will affect you in this life and in the one to come. If you choose to do what is “right,” you will make the choices which will bring you happiness and success, and length of days on the earth. By doing “right,” you will also assure a happy eternity in Heaven after this life is over. On the other hand, if you choose to do “wrong,” you will forfeit both present and eternal happiness and well-being. Look about you at those who do wrong and you will discover that they do not have peace and contentment as you have it when you obey the Word of God. So, make your decisions, as you must. We will be praying for you, that you will make the right ones and live a long and useful life, and go to Heaven when it is time for you to die.
Guardian of Truth XXXIX: No. 19, p. 9-10
October 5, 1995