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Honouring Parents

The Bible teaches that we should respect and honor our parents. If a father is an alcoholic and deserts his wife and children are those children still obligated to honor their father? Is a son or daughter then obligated to go to that father when he is dying?

I believe Ephesians chapter six and verses one through four and also, Colossians three and verses twenty and twenty-one will help us answer this situation.  These scriptures teach us that it is right for children to obey and respect their parents. However, fathers are commanded not to “provoke” their children to anger or wrath. That tells me that there must be some things that a father can do that will cause anger in the heart of his children. God says that it will cause those children to be discouraged. Those children may have a very difficult time over coming the anger, bitterness and resentment they may feel toward their father. In fact, they may never get over it. The ideal reaction for the saved adult who was wronged by their father when they were a child is to forgive him just as Christ has forgiven him or her. However, some are never able to fully and completely forgive and forget what happened to them. Perhaps, those of us who have not experienced what they experienced should not be quick to judge them. Just love the person who is hurting and pray that God will do a work in their heart so that they might someday be able to forgive their father and let go of the bitterness.

Also, the Bible does tell us in Romans 12:18, “ If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” The implication here is that there are times when you may not be able to get along with some folks. In those cases, it is often best just to keep some distance between the two parties. Let’s face facts, some personalities may have a very difficult time working closely together. Recognize that there are some differences and problems and just put some well planned distance between the offending personalities. In the case of the dying alcoholic father, the son or daughter should not feel obligated to visit their father. It would be good if they could visit him just one last time. It really just depends on the individual and where they are in their spiritual growth. They may not have grown in the Lord enough yet so that they could be ready for this level of forgiveness. Who knows maybe that father would want to make things right with his son or daughter before he dies. But he also might not.