"Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you" (Exo 20:12).You know that one, I'm sure. Every parent has, or would at least like to, trotted that one out in front of the kids. Every kid hates it at some time or another. And in the end, no one is really deeply concerned about it.
Some have suggested that the previous commandment, "Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy", is the "forgotten commandment". Some have argued that it should be. Others have argued that it should be just on another day. Still others have simply failed to pay attention and let it go entirely. Any day will do ... or none at all. But I think that this one, "Honor your father and your mother", is right up there with "Remember the Sabbath" at the top of the bottom of the list. "Not really my concern, you see. I'll worry about 'murder' and 'adultery', perhaps, but 'honor mother and father' just doesn't make my to-do list."
It's odd, too, because this particular command is boldly and echoed in the New Testament. You can find New Testament arguments why, perhaps, maybe the Sabbath thing is in question, but there is no reason to think that this command was set aside with the advent of the new Covenant. Jesus warned the Pharisees that their "Corban" -- "given to God" -- rule was being used to contravene this very important commandment (Mark 7:6-13). Paul gave this as the reason that children should obey their parents (Eph 6:1-3). No one even hinted that it was no longer in affect.
But just how serious is it? Well, the Law put dishonoring parents right up there with idolatry (Deut 27:16). In Leviticus sandwiched tightly between "You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy" and "Do not turn to idols" God placed "Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father" (Lev 19:2-4). In Israel the law was that a disobedient child who would not respond to discipline was to be taken out and stoned to death (Deut 21:18-21). Now, there was no record of this ever actually happening, but that should give you a sense of how serious God considered the issue. Even Jesus said, "Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die" (Matt 15:4). So this isn't minor. The Bible considers it important.
There is one interesting aspect that I almost never hear mentioned. The Bible does not say at what age this command is no longer in effect. It does not give an "age of adulthood" at which this command can be ignored. There is no 18-year-old limitation. There is no point that the people in question, "father and mother", cease to be father and mother and, therefore, no point at which they cease to require honor. The method of showing honor may change, but honor, from all indications, would be required by this command.
Here, let me give you an example. In Genesis 9, Noah got drunk and passed out in his tent naked. Embarrassing, to be sure. His son, Ham, saw him and told his brothers. His brothers took a blanket, walked backward into the tent, and covered their father. The result was that Ham was cursed for his dishonoring of his father (Gen 9:20-27). Now consider a couple of salient points. First, Noah was drunk and naked -- not exactly the epitome of a good father figure. Second, the "boys" were not boys. They were adults with wives of their own. We can easily conclude from all this that 1) parents are due honor 2) regardless of their "honorableness" or 3) the ages of their children.
I find it interesting, then, that we live in this day when parents are not deemed to be worthy of honor. Young children are not taught to honor their parents either by their parents or by the other adults in their lives. (And make no mistake, children must be taught this because it does not come naturally.) Adults are laughed at if they show "too much respect" to their parents, where "too much" these days is about anything at all. Obedience isn't expected. Honor isn't required. And we've set it aside. Isn't it pointed, then, when you realize that, listed in among the horrendous evils men would commit like malice, slander, haters of God, sexual immorality, murder, and inventors of evil you will find "disobedient to parents" right up there with the rest? (See Rom 1:29-31; 2 Tim 3:2-5.)
A lot of conservatives today are bemoaning the condition of the country. We've reelected a man they consider dangerous. The institution of marriage is on the rocks. Sin is rampant. Immorality rules. And I don't think I can really argue against that assessment. I would suggest, however, that voting in a better government or making better laws is not the solution some may think. I would suggest that a return to God's commands would be a better way to go. And I would think it perilously obvious that children who are not taught to honor their fathers and mothers would be a key element of the real problem because those are tomorrow's citizens and leaders. Perhaps we would do well to first begin the process of honoring our own fathers and mothers as commanded by Old and New Testaments followed by teaching our children to do the same. God seemed to think it was important. Jesus considered it mandatory. I would think that theists and followers of Christ would want to have the same perspective that He does.