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The 10 Commandments as a Basis for Morality?

5. Honour thy father and thy mother.

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A few months ago, I was channel surfing and happened upon Dr. Laura's syndicated TV show. Not my usual fare by any means. Anyway, I arrived just as she was reading a letter from a viewer posing a problem. He stated that his parents were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary with a celebration to which all the family were invited. However, he had been told not to bring his wife. The reason was that his wife had cheated on him years before, and while he and his wife were fully reconciled and had a happy marriage, his parents had not forgiven her. And he asked Dr. Laura's advice on the situation.

I did not expect Dr. Laura to respond by advising the writer to tell his parents to shove the invitation up their sanctimonious butts, reasonable though that response might have been. However, I did expect her to select an appropriate verse from the bible with which to approach his parents so as to reconcile them with his wife; a verse about forgiveness, acceptance, or even the verse about who claimed ownership of vengeance. There are any number of possibilities in scripture.

But no! Instead, she told him to go to the party alone, because the fifth commandment says:

"Honour thy father and mother."[1]

And that is why the fifth commandment is totally wrong. Like the preceding four, it has nothing to do with morality. This one is about blind acceptance of authority set over you. No wonder they want this list posted in courtrooms and classrooms.

Honour is not "given." Honour and respect are earned. And these parents through their unforgiving attitudes had forfeited the right to honour or respect.

To have a moral component this instruction should be radically restructured.: Act such that you merit honour. And that is a basis for morality,

Moral value of the fifth commandment: 0 / 10

Footnote:

  1. See how Billy Graham gives out similar bad advice in Meditation 679

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