If we take the Bible seriously (you do, right?), then we know that finding a way to honor our parents, no matter who they have been, no matter what they have done, is a very significant action. I’m serious. The Bible is filled with stories of people who honored their parents and succeeded and of those who did not honor their parents and failed. If you’re alive, you’ve got parents (even if they are no longer living)—and God’s command is to honor them (see Exodus 20:12).
Now you may think, “If this guy thinks for a moment that I’m going to honor my old man, he has got another thing coming!” Well, let me try to get by your resistance. Honoring our parents does not mean several things.
First, honoring our parents does not mean to go back groveling and seeking their approval (again). Children need to get freed from my-parents’-approval bondage.
Secondly, it does not mean to make yourself vulnerable to their hurtful behavior. Sometimes appropriate boundaries between children and abusive parents are necessary. But the need for that boundary does not free us from the obligation of honoring our parents.
Thirdly, honoring our parents does not mean ignoring or denying the past.
Here is what honoring does mean. It means choosing to place great value upon our relationship with them. It means not kidding myself into thinking that my parents don’t matter to me. It involves taking the initiative to improve the relationship whatever its current condition. And it means recognizing what they have done right. You say, “They haven’t done a lot right.” They have done something right, even if it’s little more than giving you life (that’s big). So, express that recognition. Acknowledge the sacrifices that they have made for you. Honoring includes seeing them as Christ does, with compassion and mercy. It means forgiving them as Christ has forgiven you.