Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother

Old things: old coins, old furniture, old thunderbirds and corvettes, old churches, old people, old preachers, old songs, old doctrines. What about libraries and museums which are full of old books, microfilm and other historical artifacts? Is a Holocaust museum important? Should we revise our Constitution and our history textbooks? Is the Constitution an evolving document? How about the Bible? Should we listen to Einstein, Henry Morris and Spurgeon? Is it time to abandon “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?” Should we throw caution to the side and buy the new catch phrase, “If you keep doing the same old thing you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting the same old results you’ve been getting?” Is there something fatally wrong with the beliefs and practices that got the message of Christ to this generation in spite of 2,000 years of overwhelming odds? What’s so wrong with preaching, praying, singing, giving and the Lord’s Supper? Should we be so ready to desert an English translation of the Bible that has single-handedly had a greater impact upon the whole world for the last 4 centuries than all other books combined?

Age alone is not the determining factor in whether or not something is good or bad. Claims or words alone do not determine the truth or validity of anything. It has been well said that things are not always what they seem, but they are always what they are.

God has weighed-in on this subject. Big time! In His 10 Commandments (not suggestions), He said great weight (that’s what honour means) should be placed on fathers and mothers. That includes immediate parents, but also the wisdom of the ages. This commandment was to all Israeli children about their immediate parents, but it was also to the nation corporately (Exodus 19:3). “That thy days may be long upon the land which The Lord thy God giveth thee” is a promise of national longevity in the land, not merely a promise that any obedient child would live to a ripe old age. For Israel (or America) to prosper and survive from generation to generation in the land, she would have to master respect for the wisdom of the ages. (In the context in which God gave these commandments the thinking of God must remain society’s central authority and guide.)

Dad and Mom are not infallible or right on everything; neither is your beloved old pastor or forefathers in the faith. But, beware lest you flippantly toss them aside. Doctrine and practices that have stood the tests of time and lasted for centuries merit serious consideration. All of them are not bad. People have been getting saved, worshipping God and mentoring a next generation quite successfully for a long time. Yes, there is considerable baggage in much that’s old, but it’s never good to throw out the baby with the dirty bathwater.

There is a new battering ram on the scene for beating up old churches, old preachers, old music and many things long held sacred: “If you keep doing the same ole things, you’ll keep getting the same ole results.” The man currently in the White House was swept into office on the promise of change. Like the Pied Piper he piped and the multitudes fell in line without thinking through what change really meant. Obviously things have not turned out very well. It’s pretty easy to jump out of the frying-pan right into the fire. It’s always wise to look before you leap.

There is old baggage, but there is new baggage too; and old baggage can turn up as new baggage in different clothing. You don’t get away from cantankerous, mean-spirited Pharisees by changing names or locations. Hypocrites, bullies, the rude, the unprincipled and those without integrity seem to be everywhere. Such things are human-nature, character problems. They are universal and not limited to Baptists (Independent or otherwise).

“Honour thy father and thy mother” is a part of God’s bulwark against change for the worse. Idealism does not always bring about improvement. Just look at Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution and a world that has embraced Darwinian Evolution. These days old-line churches, old men like me with old Bible beliefs like mine and the way we’ve done church for a long, long time are taking a pretty bad beating. The seekers, the emergers, the millenniums and others have a better way. Many are leaving the old paths that somehow got the glorious truths of God to us. The verdict is still out; but I suspect that when the final word is spoken and God’s appraisal of what was glitter and what was gold is made, those who gave serious consideration and weight to the thinking and positions of their fathers and their mothers will be glad they did.