To me, going to church is reserved for occasions like weddings and funerals. I actually do not remember the last time I went to church; so if that makes me a bad Christian that’s a topic for another day but its quite ironic my first blog for ElleAfrique is about the fifth commandment! I became aware of this commandment way back in Sunday school, but the first time I cross examined it was when my high school teacher aroused my curiosity. She had asked the class what commandment in the Bible has a promise attached to it? I searched my mind in vain, but from that day on, I embarked on a journey to get to the bottom of all this. So today, I share with you my opinion about, first the commandment, and then the promise attached.
The fifth commandment states that “Honour your mother and father then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you (Exodus 20:12).
I think the logic behind this commandment is the Do’s and Don’ts of life every parent (read Elder) continuously reminds the children to obey. Children learn from both what they are told verbally and from what they witness adults do. Parents are real life people that children can easily identify with and copy from.
To Parents (read Elders), this commandment is a double edged sword. It checks both the behavior of the parents and children. Gone are the days when age meant distinguished behavior and wisdom, these days the old are not so exemplary and children have little to learn from them, perhaps there’s need to pay more attention to this commandment. Children seldom respond to the famous saying of “Do as I say but not as I do”.
There’s this greeting card that goes viral with comments and shares on social media every mother’s day. It reads, “God could not be everywhere so he created mothers. ”Everyone has enjoyed the privilege of having a mother or a mother figure around them, I think that’s God’s way of compensating for his Lack of physical presence amongst people. Children should behave in a way that their parents are proud of; no parent desires to raise a disgraced child. Either we learn to find our Lord in ordinary, everyday life, or else we shall never find Him, stated Saint Josemaría.
If you were a teenager in my days, you would recognize the popular Christian paper back the ‘Born Agains’ usually carried as the rest of us held tight to the latest Danielle Steele, Sweet Valley High, Sweet Valley University, Sydney Sheldon, Mills and Boons, Jackie Collins or Steven King. Its title was ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ This book described every day encounters and gave practical solutions Jesus would do or recommend in those situations. What if the question was Paraphrased to “What Would Parents (read Mom) do?” Would the objective be met? I think yes, this commandment guides us. In summary lets share a quote from R. Buckminster “Parents are usually more careful to bestow knowledge on their children rather than virtue, the art of speaking well rather than doing well, but their manners should be of the greatest concern.”
What would mom do?
The promise attached is immensely direct the Don’ts our parents (read Elder) forbid us is what makes us live longer and enjoy this world. They stop us from following the path of destruction which would otherwise end our lives. Basic prohibitions like don’t do drugs, drink driving, early sex e.t.c keep us alive in this world. Parents command us to read hard in school, education is not all about getting a posh job and earning a good salary at the end of it, it engulfs, opening your mind and making you a better person. The Greek philosopher Pythagoras famously stated “Educate the children and it won’t be necessary to punish the men.”
I lost a sister at 27 years. She died young! We laid her to rest on 15 February 2012. If only she had internalized Exodus 20:12, if only she had connected the dots together and lived her life accordingly. Chances are today she would be alive and flourished in the promise attached.