How to Honor God (and Your Parents) in the Middle of a Broken Home
Last month, we published an article that encouraged children in godly homes to take advantage of their parents’ Gospel investment by establishing good habits right now. But, not everyone has the blessing of growing up in a godly home. Many of us cling to the promises of God because everything else seems to be falling around us.
What should we do when we face that reality? How should a Christian son or daughter react when hope is not found at home? When all we see around us is brokenness and sin, where should we turn?
Every situation is different.
There are all types of family situations, but each one faces personal sin and personal brokenness. You’re facing your situation right now. This is your trial, and your pain and your sadness are very real.
The Gospel doesn’t call us to survive at home but to learn and grow to be faithful to Jesus and honor the Lord. By God’s grace, start a whole new legacy of godliness in your family.
This all sounds well and good, but we’ve got to start somewhere right?
First, remember that your mission is to serve the Lord and be faithful to Jesus. Bring glory to Him by worshipping Him amid your circumstances and following His purpose for you outlined in Scripture.
Second, recognize that your parents are not perfect (and might not even want to be). We have a blueprint for how to view the world through our parents, or who raised us. Sin twisted this blueprint, since the fall of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. The first entrance of sin happened within the context of a family when Adam and Eve thought they could be better gods than God Himself. Then Cain’s murder of Abel (his brother) came soon thereafter. Satan is on a mission to turn all good toward evil.
Third, never doubt that God’s design is good, but sin corrupts and perverts everything (Romans 8:28). While mankind and the serpent were busy sinning and blaming one another, God Himself was orchestrating a rescue plan. Jesus became one of us to provide salvation—through the seed of man. In Genesis 3:15, the Bible gives us a glimpse into the promise of a Messiah. Jesus entered into the midst of our dirty world to redeem anyone who will repent and turn to Him for salvation.
The Gospel is bigger than your pain—even when it’s hard to believe it. Our God is a Savior and a Redeemer! This is the primary way God reveals Himself to us in the Bible. He loves to make broken things new, and give life to dead souls. This is our hope! Jesus takes what is broken and fixes it. Things will still be hard but fight to recognize the eternal purpose in the difficult circumstances right now.
What does the Bible say?
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.'” (Ephesians 6:1–3)
We come from a variety of family dynamics, but God’s Word gives us a very simple command.
God says that we are to obey and honor our parents. Of course, it’s always possible to obey without honor. This is where the sinfulness of our hearts come into view. Obey what they say, but do so with honor and respect, even when they are undeserving. To fully grow into a mature Christian, who obeys and honors God, then you must honor your parents.
If you’re a child of God, you are obeying and honoring the Lord when you obey your parents. Do so by His strength and His power. God is not calling you to do this on your own, so receive His empowerment to love those who might not love you. He frees you from excuses and frees you to show honor. He alone is eternally worthy! He walks through this with us, giving us power, strength, and love to honor our parents.
Divorce and other family strife rip apart something that is not meant to be ripped apart, regardless of the reason. Unfortunately, we tend to use pain and anger as an excuse to do whatever we want to do. But God’s Word holds us accountable to holiness. What you do with your anger is your sin. You own that not your parents.
But, help and hope are available to us in the Lord. He can (and wants to) enable you to be the man or woman He has designed you to be.
You and I don’t get to determine what “goes well” in our life—and that’s a good thing. We don’t have a clue the riches God has planned for His children, just like our childhood selves had a limited perspective compared to us now.
We see our lives through a narrow perspective, but Christ sees you for who you are because of eternity. He sees you as an eternal soul, and He knows what He wants to use in your life to sanctify you right now. There is always hope. There is always redemption. God is in the business of rewriting your blue-print.
There is an infinite God, and His name is Jesus. He entered into our pain in the most intimate way—on the Cross.
How does Jesus rewrite our blueprint?
- Scripture – Meditate on Scripture. The Bible changes us, more than it does our circumstances. God’s Word teaches us about Himself, ourselves, and the world around us. He alone defines who we are. Christ’s love enables us to love. His power enables us to face the most difficult of life’s struggles with wisdom and hope.
- Prayer – Prayer is the most undervalued weapon in most Christians’ lives. There is no good reason for this! Speak to your God and listen to your God. Don’t be afraid to ask God the hard, sad, angry questions. Hebrews says that we can “boldly approach the throne of grace…” He has grace and mercy ready for us! Be real with your Heavenly Father. Tell Him what you’re feeling and experiencing, and ask for help. God is not scared of your questions.
- The Church – The body of Christ is a beautiful thing. God designed the Church for the sake of your holiness, godliness, and protection. When we repent and turn to Jesus in faith, we become Christians. So, Christian, you not only have a heavenly Father, but also new brothers and sisters. Take advantage of godly men and women in your church. They will be ready and eager to guide you through the pain and brokenness of life with the truths of Scripture.
What if your parents tell you to do something completely against the Bible?
Obey Jesus, period. There is no other action described in the Bible for us.
Ezekiel 20:18-20 provides an example of parents telling children to worship false gods. And God directed them, “I am Yahweh your God. Keep my statutes.” In the New Testament, Jesus points out in no uncertain tones that following Jesus will sometimes cause dissension among family members and that our allegiance is first to Christ (Matthew 10:34-39).
Obey and honor your parents until the point where they tell you to disobey the Lord. This is your default command. Our allegiance is to Jesus. Your identity is now who you are in Christ. But, be careful not to dishonor your parents in pride. Obey and honor your parents until it is not possible to obey them and God simultaneously.
Where is the hope?
Look for purpose, hope, sense of security, and peace in Christ alone (Isaiah 9:6).
When you learn to worship Jesus and spend time with Him, then your family will take notice. God ultimately desires to use you as an agent of reconciliation in your family. Outdo your parents and siblings in showing honor (Romans 12:10). Love them and serve them in the face of their failures. Jesus provides a new identity and fresh hope that is supernatural.
Who knows how far the pain and sin go back in your home, but you can be an agent of redemption in your family! Love them. Serve them. Pursue Jesus well, your parents will see it.
If you are a Christian, remember that the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives inside of you! There will be difficulty in growing your faith and becoming more like Jesus (James 1). In this life, there will be trials. When you get old enough to move out of the home, more trials are coming. Get ready! Face them with God’s wisdom and strength, and He will use that faith to mature you into a man or woman after His image.
He’s given us the Church. Look to the Church! Look to godly examples of parents and children around you.
If you’re not a child of God, then please repent and turn to Jesus. Jesus came to save us from the eternal consequences of sin through His sacrifice. Don’t reject this hope, He is the only Rescuer!
*If you live in an abusive home, then speak to someone in your church or a trusted adult immediately. This is not something that needs to happen and safeguards need to be taken for the sake of your safety and others. Look to courageous, older Christians around you who will love and wisely protect you.