If a parent is telling the child to sin; does the child still obey their parent? Or, do they obey God's law and disobey their parent? Would that mean that either way the child is sinning, because they are still breaking one of the 10 commandments?
ESV - 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
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This question calls for wisdom because it is so absolute. My first take on this is that we ought to obey both; God and the parent. But this is a special case altogether, for you ought to choose between the two in absolute terms. For it is involves committing sin whose wage is death (Romans 6:23). Yet the sins of the father aren't visited on the son and vice-varsa (Deut 24:16), (Ezekiel 18:19-20). Thus, if it involves sin, it is a spiritual matter, not a physical one. Primarily, scripture tells children to obey their parents (Colossians 3:20). However though, we must also seek to understand the context, circumstance, and intent of scripture. For Paul must have written to the Colossians this way basing on a certain situation. For he wrote to the Corinthians, the Ephesians, the Galatians, etc. For each community was unique in a way. For the Galatians, it had been about how to go about the law. For the Corinthians, there had been complex issues, such as; homosexuality, the status of women in Church. Not that women were to be sidelined, but for this particular case, there was to be something to be done. For scripture indeed tells how uncompromising we should be in our respect and obedience to our parents such as; (Matthew 15:4), (Proverbs 13:24), (Deuteronomy 21:18-21), (Exodus 20:12), (Ephesians 6:2), (Proverbs 22:6). But if you read Colossians 3:21, you realize the responsibility is not only on the child, parents too bear the responsibility not to provoke their children to anger which would get them discouraged. But to balance between scripture which tells us to love the Lord God in all circumstances, and to obey our parents when they ask us to do something, the first commandment in Exodus 20:1-3 is to the Lord God. In Matthew 22:37 and Mark 12:30-31, Jesus tells us to love the Lord God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Yet, if you find yourself in such an extreme case, what do you do? Matthew 10:34-36; Jesus tells us that he came not to bring peace, but to set a son against the father and the daughter against the mother (from a spiritual perspective). Note verse 36; "And a man's foes shall be those of his own household". In such a case, a parent could be a foe to the child by misguiding them. For the Bible calls on us to guide our children in the way of God and that is why you are a parent. A parent should be so for the good reasons not the bad ones. Proverbs 22:6 tells us to train up children the way they should go so that when they are grown up, they should not depart from it. On this account therefore, a parent should train a child the way of God and not the way of sin. If he does train the child the way of sin, then He is abusing his authority and he should be held accountable. For Romans 13:1 tells that all authority comes from God, even the authority of Hitler, Stalin, or Lenin came from God! How they used that authority is what is wrong. They abused that authority. Equally so, a parent can abuse their parental authority. How should a child handle such a situation? I know of a story of a boy who got Born Again. But the father used to send him for cigarets which the boy felt as a Bron Again was not right, but this was his father whom he had to obey and the boy indeed carried on bringing the cigars to the father. But he prayed for wisdom how to stop it without having to look confrontational to the father. When he felt it was the right time, he asked the father if he knew he was Born Again, the father said yes, he was aware that the boy is Born Again. The boy told the father then that his new found faith is against smoking and therefore he shouldn't be involved in it at all. Because of the tactics the boy used and the humility he displayed, the father quickly understood the matter and he promised never to send the boy again for cigars. What do we learn here? Whether when we are right or wrong, we should avoid being confrontational with our parents. For the approach matters much. Yet in all, GOD is FIRST.
Ephesians 6 instructs children to obey their parents in The Lord. If a parent is giving an instruction from a position of not being in The Lord and obedience to said instruction would cause the child to sin, I would not think that the command in Ephesians would apply. Proverbs is also very clear in its instruction to parents to raise up a child in the way that is right. If a parent then gives a child an instruction to sin, said parent would not be following that instruction, and that fact in my view would negate the child's need to obey.
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