Exodus 20:12 “Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee….” (KJV)
So many people in the Christian community are quick to remind those of us with abusive parents of the above Scripture. These people believe that we should treat abusive parents well, doing their bidding no matter how cruelly they treat us, & that is precisely the definition of honoring our parents.
In my mind though, that doesn’t sound remotely like the God I know at all!
To honor someone means you give them respect befitting their position. Your parents gave you life, so they deserve thanks for that. (thanks, not worship!) They deserve to be spoken to with basic respect, such as not cussing them out when you’re upset with them.
If you’re blessed with loving, Godly parents, go all out- love them however you see fit. Spend time with them, give them gifts, & let them know you appreciate them.
However, if you’re like most of my readers & I, & aren’t blessed with such parents, that type of honoring behavior probably feels wrong to you. It surely does me! I had to decide on my own with God what honoring my abusive, narcissistic parents felt like.
For me, to honor my parents first & foremost means praying for them. Not always easy, I freely admit that. But, God wants us to pray for our enemies, & sadly, I think my parents fit into that category. (They don’t love me- they only love what I can do for them. They regularly try to hurt, control & manipulate me.) I have an alarm set on my cell to remind me every morning to pray for my parents, other enemies, my friends, family & readers. Praying for them as well as everyone else has become much easier since I’ve been doing it daily for a few months now.
Honoring them also does not include tolerating abuse. If you study what God means by love in the Bible, you’ll see that one thing it basically means wanting the best for others. Allowing someone to be abusive isn’t wanting the best for them. Setting & enforcing good boundaries encourages them to behave right. Granted, it doesn’t always work with narcissists, but at least doing so is a loving & honorable thing to do.
Sometimes setting some distance between or even going no contact with your parents can be honorable. I was no contact with my mother for 6 years. God had been dealing with me for a while about making the step, but I thought that couldn’t be God! I asked Him one day if that was Him, because going no contact seemed so dishonorable to me. His response was among the clearest responses I’ve ever heard from Him. He said, “Where is the honor in the fact that your very presence stirs up strife with your mother? How is that honorable?” That along with some especially horrible things she did to me at the time gave me the courage to end contact with my mother.
As for more specifics, such as do you help out your elderly, abusive parent, that I believe is a decision only you can make. Ask God what you should do. I did this since my parents are now in their late 70’s. I asked if He wanted me to help them. God told me to do as I feel I am able to do, physically as well as emotionally. Due to physical & mental health limitations, it isn’t a lot, & that is fine. God understands! He also understands if I opt to do nothing to help them. My parents may not, but yanno something? I answer to God, not them. Let Him guide you as to what is best in your individual situation. He won’t lead you wrong!