These are excerpts from the CONCLUSION of my research on the significance of the biblical commandment to honor parents (Exodus 20.12 and Deuteronomy 5.16).
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Note: The Decalogue is the Ten Commandments. Deka is Greek for ten, and logos is the Greek for word.
“The doing away of the traditional institution that is represented by the network of related families that value the role of parenthood in such a drastic manner that was exhibited since the first Industrial Revolution threatens the very fabric of human existence. It was also during that time when an explosion of child labor and exploitation occurred. Perhaps the key word in that statement is ‘drastic.’ The question is, had such changes been distributed in little increments throughout a longer period of time, then would humanity have come up with measures to prevent modernization’s morbid effects? Most likely humanity first has to gather an eon’s amount of wisdom before it can settle into an unruffled placid existence. Parenthood represented constancy and continuity. In the classical paradigm, parents are not only the vehicle for the perpetuation of the human species but they were also the source of knowledge and guiding wisdom for the conduct of daily life. They were conduits for the transference of collective memory on to the consequent generations. As such, they were indispensable to any generation. If humanity can’t get it from a long string of generations of parenthood, then it has to locate its source from somewhere else that is just as honorable.”
“The modern Latin Church in its various denominations does not lack in its teachings regarding the respect due to parents. It has also accommodated within its teachings various ways of how to cope with modernity’s family-related problems. However, since there is no single institution that equals in authority at how humans were once guided by the ethos of the family — that is, institutions like the Church, the academe, and other such similar agents of ‘learning’ are all sources of ‘truth’ and are none the only source of ‘truth’ — then it becomes obvious that such institutions must form direct and constant communication among each other for the sole sake of the consequent generations’ well-being. The survival of a healthy humanity, with the full capacity for creativity and choice that was endowed by God, is at stake and there must be better answers than the ones that we have now. Where for a long time in human history the community of persons took care of everyone, perhaps now it has to be a similar ‘community’ of institutions.”
“The injunction to honor parents side by side with the effect of having ‘long life’ has something to do with a family’s cohesiveness not only in the emotional aspect of daily life but, more importantly, in the perceived capacity and responsibility for its ability to take care of the members’ needs. Where the family is perceived as a unit and where the elders are integral parts of the community, the injunction to honor parents becomes as moral and as ethical as not murdering and not stealing, the two most obviously universal items in the Decalogue. At the time when this primary function of the family and its immediate community was taken away from it — that is, the elders being the perennial moral teachers to the consequent generations within the context of the community’s way of life, and the family members being guided and assured of belongingness in all aspects of their existence — there was no turning back from the familial and personal problems that have become manifest in modern society, regardless of its level of material or cultural prosperity and sophistication. At such contexts where problems are situated within the emotional or psychological realms, not only is the honoring of parents in danger of being rendered irrelevant but the rest of the Decalogue as well. Whatever universal precepts that can be discerned within the Decalogue, like not lying and not coveting, are under threat of becoming worthless phrases in the end.”