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New City Catechism 10.3

NOTE: I am modifying the answer on this question somewhat because I, along with the elders of Cornerstone, hold to a somewhat different understanding of the Sabbath than is presented in the catechism.

Question 10: What does God require in the fourth and fifth commandments?

Answer: Fourth, that we prioritize worship and rest and not live only for work, and so anticipate the eternal Sabbath. Fifth, that we love and honor our father and mother, submitting to their godly discipline and direction.

Disobedience to parents is a weighty matter in Scripture. Paul lists it among numerous other vices that we rightly regard as reprehensible (Rom. 1:28-32). The Mosaic Law had a provision for the stoning of extremely rebellious sons (Deut. 21:18-21). We live in a culture that has grown quite comfortable with the allowance that children will rebel against parental authority. It seems that in this growing acceptance of the rebelliousness of children, we are driven by the motivation to protect their vulnerable psyches. In truth, we have done them no favors.

Disobedience to parental authority is disobedience to God. God has delegated parents with authority over their children, and thus rebellion against a parent constitutes nothing less than rebellion against God himself. We who are parents or other kinds of authority figures in the lives of children must not shrink back from exercising our authority and communicating to children under it that the way their hearts respond to us is an indication of how they are responding to God. Disobedience and rebellion to parents must be confronted for what it is: rebellion against God. Let children see the weightiness of their own sin, and then hold out for them the hope of forgiveness through the gospel as you call them to repentance.

Suggested passages for family or personal reading: Ephesians 6:1-4. What is the duty of children in this passage, and what are the reasons given for children to fulfill it? What are the duties of fathers? What do you think it means to “provoke your children to anger,” and how can we avoid doing that?

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