#52 Honor is More Than Love

The first work is that we should honor our own father and mother. This honoring does not consist in merely showing them all deference. It means that we obey them, have regard for what they do and what they say, esteem them highly, give way to them, and accept what they say. It means that we endure their treatment of us without complaint, so long as it is not contrary to the first three commandments, and, in addition, provide them with food, clothing, and shelter when they are in need. For it is not without purpose that he has said, “Thou shalt honor them.” He does not say, “Thou shalt love them,” although it means that as well. But honor is higher than mere love, and includes within it a kind of fear which unites with love and has such an effect upon a man that he fears offending them more than he fears the ensuing punishment. It is just as there is fear in the honor we pay a holy place, and yet we do not flee from it as from a punishment, but draw all the more near to it. True honor is such a fear mingled with love. The other kind of fear that is without love is the fear of those things which we despise or avoid, e.g., the fear of the hangman or of punishment. There is no honor in that, for it is fear without love: in fact, it is a fear mixed with hatred and hostility. We have a proverb of St. Jerome about this: What we fear, we also hate. God does not want to be feared or honored with that kind of fear, nor does he want our parents honored with this kind of fear, but rather with the first kind, the kind mingled with love and confidence” (Luther’s Works, v. 44 p.81).

Posted in 2019 Teaching Children.

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