God Calls Their Worship a Farce!

Jesus made a strong warning against those who find excuses not to honor their parents...Blessing or curse....the decision is ours.

If a father said he'd obey Ephesians 6:4 (nurturing his children in the Lord), but only if his children proved worthy, we'd tell him God's commands aren't negotiable.

But when Father's and Mother's Day rolls around, I'm reminded how often I've heard people justify their disrespect and neglect of their parents because they've deemed their parents unworthy.

When they do this, they not only judge their parents, they judge God and His commands (Ephesians 6:2). 

They base their obedience on their perspective (which is usually hindered by a log - Matthew 7:1-4) and underestimate the purposes and effects of God's commands (Isaiah 55:8-9). 

And God says their worship is a farce  (Matthew 15:1-9).

Obeying God's command to honor our parents is about our obedience and trust in God, not about our parents' goodness. 

Let's quit making excuses, Dear Christians, and start honoring those God says to honor. God knows what He's doing and He promises to bless those who obey Him (Ephesians 6:2-3).

Why not think of one way you can improve your relationship with your parents and act on it today.
Footnote: Of special concern is the way many parents are being dishonored through the application of  "boundaries." (See Are Boundaries Biblical?) We may need boundaries with parents who are physically abusive or mentally ill, but God still expects us to honor them. God knew when He gave the command that not all parents were worthy of honor, but He made no exceptions.

I believe disrespect for parents in the Christian community has led to great damage in all areas of our walk and our witness. That's why I often write about it. Please see related posts in the Honoring Parents Archive

Note: This devotion does not address children who have been physically or sexually abused by parents. They must seek godly Christian counsel in handling their relationship with their parents. 



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Jesus made a strong warning against those who find excuses not to honor their parents...Blessing or curse....the decision is ours.

Jesus made a strong warning against those who find excuses not to honor their parents...Blessing or curse....the decision is ours.

Jesus made a strong warning against those who find excuses not to honor their parents...Blessing or curse....the decision is ours.


  1. I'm having a hard time with this. My mom refuses to have a realtionship with me. I'm wondering how I can honor her?
    I thought I was honoring her by being the best person I could be, by being wise.
    Your thoughts?

    1. Dear Christine,
      I know that our relationship with our parents can be very complex. And there are always going to be people in our lives who seem less interested in us than we are in them. Typically, it's in the opposite direction - children with little interest in their parents.

      The fact that you care about your relationship with your mom and want it to be better has a lot to say about your character. Good for you!

      The only advice I can give is to keep loving her and honoring her whether she shows an interest or not. God sees and understands, and He will bless you for your efforts.

      But I'm also praying a prayer that your mom will change and value you as her daughter.
      God bless you, dear friend.


    2. Me too Christine. I honored my mother for 50 years and then she decided to cast me aside and favor my brothers. It's very difficult for me. God also said that favoritism is a sin (see James). What happened? Why?

    3. I'm sorry, vcsh, that you are dealing with this situation. Sometimes there is no logical answer for things people do. Yes, many things parents do are sinful. In fact, the best of parents will do things that aren't right. God sympathizes with us. And He gives us the power to honor bad parents even when we don't have the strength in ourselves.

      It's a wonderful thing to know that we need never do anything in our own strength. And whatever God calls us to do (such as honoring our parents), He gives us the strength to do it.

      God bless you.

  2. Good post Gail, many people fear this topic, and yet it will bring so much blessing. I wrote a whole book on Ephesians 6:1-4, it is called Respectfully Yours

    1. Good for you, Marja!
      You're right - not many people are addressing the subject.
      May your book be used by God.

  3. My mother is mean and abusive and constantly breaks my heart. I'm alsmost 40 and have never given up but I can't do it anymore. How do I honor her when she is constantly telling me everything I do is wrong

    1. My pastor has said to me that by praying for them if distance from them (parents) is necessary is an act of honor.

    2. Yes! My mother is a narcissist. She will try to control me and causes huge drama when she can not. She has left many wounds with her words and actions. Kicked me out when I was a child because her husband said so. I was a runaway. I am on great terms with my step dad now. My mother refuses to go to therapy with me. I am going low contact and refusing to argue with her anymore. God does NOT want us living under anyone's control!

  4. My mother is mean and abusive and constantly breaks my heart. I'm alsmost 40 and have never given up but I can't do it anymore. How do I honor her when she is constantly telling me everything I do is wrong

    1. Hi Shilo,
      I'm sorry that you have to deal with this situation. It must be incredibly hard.

      If possible, let your mother's unkind remarks slide off your back and remind yourself that God loves you.

      And move in the opposite spirit because God will reward you even if your mother never does: "Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good." Romans 12:21

      I know this may sound simplistic, but God's Word proves true.

      Also, ask God to show you something good in your mother and give your mother what you wish she would give you - praise for that good thing.

      Again, I know that sounds simplistic. And I know it is definitely not easy. But remember that this isn't about your mother's worthiness. It is about honoring God's command.

      I pray for you, Shilo, as I write this, that you will draw from Christ's strength because we are able to do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13).


    2. First, honor does not equal obey. Check out Gal 4:2 It’s the verse often over looked when parents throw out the “obey your parents” in order to gain control over adult children’s lives. Second, children are only under their parents authority until they are adults. Lastly, that does not mean we still don’t honor (respect) them or that we don’t set boundaries against their toxic behaviors. Hope this helps.

  5. Dear shilo,I understand what it's like to deal with an abusive parent. My suggestion is to pray for your mom and talk to a Christian counselor. I did. I had to get away from the abuse so i could heal. Now many years later my finally have a good relationship with that parent. God will work things out for good. give it time.

  6. I'm glad there's at least one response like this, giving an example of how setting loving boundaries is most often the only way some people will change their behavior. Even then, it doesn't guarantee it and sometimes physical as well as emotional distance is necessary. Articles like these are confusing and guilt-inducing. Dealing with only the positive side of 'honor your parents' without addressing toxic parenting is just not Biblical. In those cases (which are many) counseling, support groups, & other resources are indeed recommended. One good resource is a book (that even has an audio version available) called 'Boundaries' by Henry Cloud & John Townsend - from a Bible-based perspective. Take care of yourself also!❤️

  7. I adored my parents as much as they adored me.Now I see all our conflicts were insignificant and unnecessary.

  8. Well said.
    You are right. We are not called to obey them or approve of ungodly behavior, but we can honor them out of respect for God.

  9. Hello from Bahamas!. Am 57yrs..and my mom and I can't see eye to eye as in all fairness she has a favoritisum issue and blatenly flaunts it for and elder deseast brother whome it seems the only one she loved and still only loves!! to the end game being every other son to a life of wrath!... We totally don't see eye to eye and at 8o yrs old???

    1. Dear Jah,
      I'm sorry that this is your situation. I pray that God will give you wisdom for honoring your mother in spite of this behavior. Remember that you are honoring your mother out of respect for the Lord....it's Him you are blessing by your actions.

  10. Hi Gail, My mother does not believe in the Bible and only believes in "her own" God. She is constantly posting on social media things I believe to be Satanic (ex: go ahead and get micro chipped since you are not special...etc?!?!) I keep reflecting Matthew 12:46-50 who is my mother? I cannot have a civil conversation with her without her screaming and cussing, whether my children are present or not. I feel like I honor her by not screaming and cussing back but past that I don't know how or why to honor her... besides break her generational curse by keeping my kids from being exposed to her nonsense. Thank you for spreading God's word and sharing your insight!! XOXO

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    1. If I understand you correctly, you are saying that because you smoke, your children refuse to let you see your grandchildren or have catch calls.

      It sounds like they are following the "boundaries" teaching of Henry Cloud and John Townsend. I've written quite a bit about this teaching because it encourages people to "punish" their parents instead of honoring them. It encourages people to take the easy way out instead of showing respect and consideration for others.

      If your children are concerned about the smoke, it's appropriate to make arrangements that are mutually comfortable for all of you. For example, you could agree not to smoke in the same rooms where you meet with your children or grandchildren. But refusing to let you see your grandchildren all together and refusing to let them call is not necessary and definitely disrespectful of you.

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    3. Hi Amanda,
      Yes, I am saying that the Boundaries teachings in the book by Cloud and Townsend and the online teachings on their various Boundaries official sites, contain huge amounts of errors in regard to Scripture. And they promote things that Scripture rebukes. I have written quite a few articles about Boundaries teachings which you can access by clicking the image of the right sidebar of my blog that says "Review of Henry Cloud's Boundaries Teaching." While their principles may apply in certain situations such as physical abuse and criminal behavior, the majority of their teachings are not biblical and heavily twist the actual meaning of Scripture.

      And yes, I'm saying that your children are treating you disrespectfully by cutting off contact based on the fact that you smoke.

      Regarding 2 Thessalonians 3:6 and 2 Thessalonians 3:13-16: These passages clearly address serious sins. Smoking does not constitute “an unruly life.” And if you want to take it literally, smoking isn't addressed in the letter to the Thessalonians and 3:13-16 says to avoid people who do "not obey what we say in this letter."

      Some passages in Scripture speak of avoiding or cutting off contact with fellow believers who are openly involved in sinful lifestyles such as drunkenness, theft, or living with someone without being married. Aside from these serious sins, we are not called to pick apart people’s lifestyles and cut ourselves off from everyone who sins.

      If your children are going to include sins like smoking for cutting people off, then they also must also stay away from any Christian who overeats or who spends too much money or who watches too much television or who focuses too much on their appearance, sports, or work, neglecting their family or quiet time. These are also types of addictions.

      The 10 commandments addresses serious sins like worshipping other Gods, murder, sexual immorality, stealing, lying, etc. If a Christian lives a lifestyle of these types of sins, they should be avoided, especially if they have been brought before the church and refused to repent (Matthew 18). The only one of the 10 commandments not restated in the New Testament is the law about the Sabbath, but all of the others are reinforced as serious sins.

      Smoking is not on that list. But honoring parents is. Before judging you for smoking, your children need to judge themselves for violating one of God’s top ten.

      I don’t believe smoking is good for you. It’s an unhealthy addiction that harms your body and can harm others if they are subjected to the smoke. I think you should seek the Lord’s help is giving it up. He can give you the strength to do it.

      But it is not the type of unruly lifestyle addressed in these passages.

      By cutting you off, your children and grandchildren are forfeiting spiritual blessings (Ephesians 6:3). In Matthew 15:1-9, Jesus talks about adult children who selfishly and self-righteously ignore their parents needs, giving to the church instead. And Jesus says they honor Him with their words, but not with their hearts. Nowhere in this passage does He talk about only honoring sinless, worthy, or godly parents. We are not meant to judge, manipulate, mistreat, or neglect our parents. We are meant to honor them out of respect for our Lord, understanding that they are sinners just like we are sinners. We can choose our friends, but God chooses our parents.

      Cutting off contact because you smoke is not biblical, not healthy, and not Christlike.

      I’m curious: are they following the Boundaries teachings?

  12. Good day
    Thank you for the teachings
    My situation is concerning my mom overprotecting and loving my brother who in my opinion does not care about her wellbeing. She got angry and cut out our relationship because I'm trying to make her aware of what I think she does not see. She refuses to take my calls.
    I'm the only one out of 4 children who financially assisted her since I stated working but she chooses them and their children over me and mine.
    After reading your teachings, I'm now aware and know that irrespective of what she does, all I have to do is respect on honor her.
    Please pray with me as I'm expectant of a breakthrough of us being able to communicate and talk again as before.
    I pray God to help me ignore whatever and just maintain respect and honor. I may have been too judgemental by trying hard to show her the faults of my siblings.
    May the GOOD LORD forgive me for not honoring and respecting her as I should.
    I promise to do good even in the mist of favoritism, no excuses. I'm willing to put all aside and do only Good to my mom and siblings.
    Thank you. Wish I knew this earlier.

    1. Dear Friend,
      You are experiencing the conviction of God's Holy Spirit, and that is a good thing!

      That shows that you are growing in your faith and you are open to hearing God's voice correcting and encouraging you.

      It's not too late! I would encourage you to ask your mother's forgiveness for hurting her feelings. Even though some of what you told her was true, don't mention that when you apologize.

      And then, whatever you do for your mother, think of it as doing it for the Lord. She may not appreciate it, but the Lord does and He blesses us when we return good for evil.

      I have prayed for you as well.

      So be encouraged and move forward in your faith!!

  13. You cannot tell a sexually abused child that they must honor their parents. Period.

    1. Sexual abuse is not addressed in this devotion, Anne. Sexual abuse is a terrible sin, and my heart grieves for those who have suffered from it.

      Their situation requires special protection and consideration for sure.
      They should never put themselves or their family members in harm's way.

      However, if an adult child cannot forgive an abusive parent, that adult child will bring unnecessary grief into their own lives. So the first and most important way an adult child honors an abusive parent is to forgive that parent and not let bitterness ruin their life.

      Beyond that, the adult child lets God guide them because each situation will be different. If the parent is repentant and wants contact, I believe God would expect us to stay in contact. This doesn't mean that they will receive the same contact as other parents, but I believe God will show an abused child how to honor their parent because honoring a parent is not based on whether the parents is worthy of that honor. It's based on honoring God's commands. And many of God's commands are difficult to obey, and the more difficult they are, the more they refine our faith.

      Honoring a parent who is criminal, drug addicted, abusive, mentally ill, etc. will involve different guidelines than honoring a normal parent. It will require reasonable (not vengeful) limitations. In the worst cases, contact may need to be limited to emails and phone calls and certain ground rules set in place.

      God tells us to honor our parents, and He doesn't make any exceptions. I can easily agree with your statement from my human standpoint. It makes perfect sense to my human mind. But it's not biblical.