How do I Honor my non-Christian parents?
I was speaking on honor at an event a few weeks ago when I noticed a young lady quietly weeping during the message. It was obvious something was heavy on her heart, so I talked to her about it when the event was over. She really wanted to experience the benefits of an honoring relationship with her parents, but was having a difficult time reconciling that with the fact that they didn’t share her Christian beliefs.
If honor means to place value on another person, how do you value the input and ideas of people who don’t share your beliefs or system of values?
The Bible doesn’t put any qualifications on the commandment to honor parents. It doesn’t say you’re exempt if your parents are imperfect, unbelievers or even abusive. All it says is that if you will practice honor, it will go well with you. In fact, Peter shows us that honor (in marriage) can actually help win people over to your system of values:
Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 1 Peter 3:1
I’m not saying it’s easy. But, here are some suggestions to help you honor people who don’t share your values:
1.) Seek out advice. It’s true – you may not be able to use everything they say, but it doesn’t have to stop you from asking. Just taking the time to ask for input on decisions you’re making communicates a lot of value to the person you want to honor.
2.) Really try to understand that advice. Even if you disagree, don’t just assume their advice is coming from a poor system of values. Dig a little deeper. Try to understand their perspective. The goal isn’t to agree. The goal is to understand.
3.) Compare and contrast points of view in open dialogue. After taking time to truly understand their point of view, talk about how your view of the situation is different. Take time and care with this step. Give them a chance to understand you and offer critique of your perspective.
4.) Leave an open door for further input. In many cases it’s OK not to act on the advice of people who offer a different set of values. If you want to honor that person, though, don’t slam the door on them. Purpose to value and weigh their input in future decisions. It’s not the easy road…but it will add so much value to your life.
If this post has interested you, you may also enjoy “My parents are controlling. What should I do?” which gives more perspective on how to honor when not obeying.
How about you. Have you ever faced a parent or someone with opposing values that you wanted to honor? How did you handle it?