Friday, March 27, 2009

March 27- Fifth Commandment- Honor parents

(Picture of Francis I- King of France. He gave up his Protestantism to be king, and waffled back and forth about persecuting the Protestants. Calvin dedicated his Instituted to him, but it is doubtful that he ever read them.)

3/27- Fifth Commandment
16 "Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you. (Deuteronomy 5:16)

Calvin: The degrees of pre-eminence established by God ought to be inviolable
for us. This, then, is the sum: that we should look up to those whom God has placed over us, and should treat them with honor, obedience, and gratefulness.(II.8.35)

Calvin believed that this commandment refers not just to our parents, but to all those who are (in God’s providence) placed over us. This would mean students respecting teachers, teachers respecting principals, employees respecting their employers, etc. In modern times, this idea has taken criticism by liberation theology which would have us rebel against wicked rulers as Moses did against Pharaoh. Certainly Calvin knew of the options of rebellion. He remembered Zwingli’s death in war. He was familiar that Geneva’s freedom and Protestantism would not have been possible without the people rising up against the Duke of Savoy and his bishop. Yet Calvin saw scriptures as moderating against full scale rebellion against bad rulers. While Calvin was alive and in power there was relative peace between the Reformed and other parties (Philip of Hesse and the Schmalkaldic War was really before Calvin’s rise to power).
Calvin said to him whom the Lord through his providence has placed over us we should render reverence, obedience, and gratefulness, whether he is worthy or unworthy of that honor. This implies explicitly to parents. No employer, no parent or step parent does everything right. Most are unworthy of our loyalty. Yet there is peace when we honor those over us.

Prayer: Help us Lord, to honor those you have placed over us. Help us to honor them with reverence, obedience, and gratitude. We pray that they will listen to you, and follow your ways as they lead us. Amen.

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