After teaching crucial truths about marriage, Paul turns to the parent-child relationship. Kids are called to do two things, similar, though each being important in it’s own right. First, children are to obey their parents. This is basic, but always a challenge, back then as well as today. Obedience is essential, since children are severely lacking in both knowledge and experience. A disobedient child will certainly bring problems down upon his own head and to others as well. But a greater problem yet is that the child will learn disobedient patterns of living that will go with him into adulthood. Disobedience in childhood leads to being disobedient to God Himself. And that, of course, has very serious consequences.
A second thing a child is called to do is to “honor” their parents. Honoring is something that happens on a higher level. You can obey your parents without honoring them. To honor them is to actually think highly of them and support them in what they are trying to do in raising their families in the ways of the Lord. If we do this great things will happen. Society will get better and grow stronger. That’s what the scriptures mean when they say “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land”. Failing to honor good parents who are trying to help their families be godly will result in the decline of our society.
Paul, however, does not stop there. He adds a note about father’s not provoking their children. Fathers can treat their children in such a way that they are constantly being pushed and driven with the result that a smoldering anger begins to grow between child and father. Paul calls fathers to use their heads in this matter. They are to teach their children and expect them to obey. But know where the line is between appropriate parenting and provocation.