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I know we are to honor our mother and father, but how and what does it mean when they are not believers?

I have had run ins with my parents over the last few years in regards to my faith. Yesterday, for example, I was asked how my work at a faith based outreach is going. I said fine and stated there is a lot of work to do. I was explaining to him and a friend standing near by how I needed to remove some games from the computers. Halo and some other killing game. His response was, " I think you are going overboard"

Of course I responded with, " you need to read the Bible". Not the best choice of words. His response was that we didn't need to go there because it wouldn't turn out well for either of us.

It doesn't matter what the conversation is about he will throw barbs at my faith and the fact that I do take everything to God. Even this problem.

So, how do you honor your parents when you feel the only way to tolerate them is not see them?

Blessings all,


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I think this can be a sticky situation in many instances. I've read where they've been sexually abused by a father & how they are to honor them. In your case, I think you'll just have to have a relationship without speaking of your faith to avoid criticism. Most of the time, the life you live in front of them will speak volumes. You are right about that not being the best choice of words but I've done it sooooo many times. I'll say something like "I'll pray for you" like I'm so above whoever I'm speaking to. As we now know, it makes us look worse instead of witnessing to the listener. We automatically put them on the defense. 

When Jesus walked the earth, He showed us the true example of honoring His Father as well as His earthly parents. His mother didn't understand Him but His honor was still there for her. They don't have to understand you brother but you can show them the love of God by simply respecting them & honoring them as the people who gave you life & raised you. You will not always have them so don't allow something as precious as your salvation to come between you. The Lord will give you the right words in the right time.

Thanks for the advise. You're right, as tough as it is, saying nothing may be the best choice.

It's funny, at 50 years old you would think I would know better or at least choose better words.

Instead of being angry with him I guess  I should feel sorry for him. I guess this is one of those times when I just have to lay this problem at the foot of the throne and give it to Jesus. I'm shocked at how upset this made me. I am normally the type to reason things out and come to a conclusion without needing advise or can easily let it go.



I totally understand why you would be upset. This is something that is part of your very heart. We, as Christians, can't understand what is left in life worth holding onto that will cost them their very soul. We can't understand why they don't want to hear the truth. However, we also know that only the Holy Spirit can draw them. You've planted the seed brother. Now, the Lord will send someone to water that seed. You've done your part & as much as you love your parents, you have to give it to the Lord at this point. I'm there with my son as well. I just want to shake him & say Why can't you see? But, instead, I choose to love him thru it because having that reaction only pushes him away. I'll pray for your parents & you pray for my son. Luv u


You've gotten some wonderful godly advice from Tammy...  My boys are in this position as my husband (their Dad) doesn't know the Lord. 

However, God's instructions for us to honor our parents are clear.. He doesn't say 'honor your Father and Mother if they honor Me'...  He simply says to honor them.


Perhaps the Lord is taking you through a process where other lessons are being learned.  God is extremely relational, and our earthly relationships matter very much to Him.  We are told to Forgive, Love, Pray for, Provide for them as they age, and be reconciled to all people.


God is handling these relationships when we ask Him to.  I can speak to my personal experience......when a relationship has been most difficult, the Lord was shining His light on something inside me that HE wanted to heal.  Sometimes it took me awhile to learn it and submit to the Lord's direction.


God is working in each of our lives... Praise Him--He will finish what HE has started in each one of us..  I'm happy to say He's not done with me yet.  I'm so thankful as He works in me to soften and change my heart, my motives, my priorities...  It has helped me to remember that God will work in the heart of the person who is willing...  If a person is not willing, Jesus will not force Himself on a person.. He 's a gentlemen.


Bless you brother... In Him, Carla

Hi, Gary. Boy, I know what it is to dread getting together with parents and to feel emotionally drained afterward. When I visit my mother, although she is a Christian, I get edgy and uncomfortable when I talk with her. I can see the contempt she has for me in the look on her face. I never confide to her -- I wouldn't feel safe to do so. By sharing how I feel I wonder am I honoring my parent or failing? It's hard for me to find good things about her to hold onto. As soon as good memories come up, bad ones follow. The bad ones crowd out the good ones. And even when I think about the good ones, they don't feel like love to me. I was never able to mirror what she expected out of me. She will say things to me like all her kids turned out bad and none of them care anything about her and never call or visit. I want to say, It's all about you, isn't it? But I bite my tongue and say nothing at all. I just take it because I know the word "all" includes me and I get the point. And I let the conversations all revolve around her life. That's my way of honoring her. I'm sorry I was never the daughter she wanted.

I was watching Dr. Phil one day last week and he said he and his wife both have buried both of their parents and Dr. Phil was abused as a child. He said when they are gone, they are gone for a long time. Dad has been gone for ten years and I miss him a lot. I know I will miss mom, too. She is 79 now. But it is difficult. Here is a good article that might help you figure out how to honor your parents. It mentions ungodly parents, too -- those who are the unsaved. 

How do we honor an abusive parent?

Are theyl saying that a child should honor a sexually abusive parent?  Do you really think that is possible to do ? If done only by fear  maybe but just to honor them?

Alienated, I am not sure that we can say one form of abuse is worse than another form. Neglect by itself is abusive and some children are so severely neglected that they eventually die from malnutrition, lack of medical care, or no supervision. In this case a simple "Thus saith the Lord" should be enough to persuade us that honoring even an abusive parent is the right thing to do. How? The gift for knowing how must come from God. It is something which many are not able to do alone. We need empowerment from God and knowledge. I hope things get easier for you soon. I'm so sorry that you were abused. I can only imagine how you have coped. I'm so sorry this has happened to you. It might take time to learn how to honor an abusive parent. God is willing to work with us on these things and is merciful and longsuffering. I wasn't sexually abused by my parents. I was neglected and physically and verbally and emotionally abused by my parents. One thing that is helping me show more compassion and understanding for my mother is knowing that she has had loss and trauma in her own life from which she was never able to heal or probably even acknowledge and admit. I, too, have loss and trauma from which I have never healed. And I am not a perfect parent either. If I make this all about me, then, no, I won't honor my parent.

The article I posted says:

Let God handle them: There may come a time when civil interaction is not possible because of a parent's sin. If so, the most loving thing to do may be to back away and let God handle things. First Corinthians 5:5 suggests that allowing a sinful Christian to reap his own rewards may be the most gracious course of action we can take.


These are hard steps to take; many of them will require a great deal of spiritual maturity and a fair amount of emotional detachment. But the nature of abuse often precludes either. If the abused child is unable to interact with the parent in a confident, proactive way, the child's priority should be seeking the emotional stability and spiritual maturity needed. It is loving and honoring to take whatever action is necessary to prevent the sins of abuse and hateful feelings. God does not expect instant maturity in His followers. It is God Who works in us (Philippians 2:13), and if we follow Him He will complete the necessary work to enable us to honor our abusive parent (Philippians 1:6).


I wasnt being all about me either. I only mentioned sexuall abuse because of reading the sentence in bold.

I've read where they've been sexually abused by a father & how they are to honor them.

I wasnt thinking of me either at that time I wrote that. I dont and have never belittled someone elses abuse or tryed to build up my parental abuse.  I just read and commented.






My apologies as I did think your questions in response to my reply were for personal reasons. I was trying to clarify what the article says as well as using my personal experience as an example and was stating that if I make it all about me then I would not honor my parent. I have to emotionally detach when I visit and try to be as mature as possible. Also, there have been times when I have not visited simply because I knew it would turn out badly -- and that is considered as a form of loving and honoring to take whatever action is necessary to prevent the sins of abuse and hateful feelings.

Again my apologies. Do I ever make it all about me? Sure. All abuse is horrible and it's easy to make it all about me. In fact I have to try very hard not to make it all about me but still do it. People never have to build abuse up IMO. I think a lot of people don't talk about it because they fear no one will believe them anyway or will say that it wasn't abuse. Discipline is one thing but if it becomes extreme then it can turn into abuse. Abuse is defined as:



Use (something) to bad effect or for a bad purpose; misuse.


The improper use of something.


verb. revile - misuse - insult - vituperate - scold

noun. misuse - insult - vituperation - invective

More info »Wikipedia - - - Merriam-Webster


Thank you for your post. My questions were not directed to you but to Taminators comment I've read where they've been sexually abused by a father & how they are to honor them.


When I read that sentence my thinking was can a child who is being abused by a parent really honor them..... When I think of the word honor, I think of obeying , respecting , doing for them.  It would have to take Gods intervention for sure.



Amanda, Thank you for clarifying the meaning of  "abuse" I wasnt too sure what it meant.


I put up the definition for abuse in order to explain that sometimes what we may not call abusive is actually defined as abuse. A scolding alone can be abusive and really cut down a child and be very damaging. How do we honor a verbally abusive parent? How do we honor a neglectful parent? How do we honor an alcoholic parent who goes on binge drinkings? How do we honor a sexually abusive parent? I am not sure that I can say one form of abuse is worse than another. I do believe that only God can help us honor our parents in whatever the case. We all have sins and need prayers. Knowing this is what helps me love and forgive and keep trying ... and also knowing that I, too, have failures as a parent helps me see my own parents in a different light and even abuses that I suffered from my siblings. Gary has asked How do we honor parents and I was only giving my take on it. Again I apologize. I thought your initial questions were directed at me and were in response to the article I posted. I was trying to reply as best as I knew how.


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