How does a Christian honor unbelieving parents? How can one honor and respect parents who are not following God's ways? Can we look to them for leadership and example when they are doing things which are not really right in God's eyes?
The answer is in your Bible! God clearly commands us to honor our parents. He does not say "Honor your parents only if they deserve honoring" or "Honor your parents if they please you." God says: "Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee" (Ex. 20:12). God condemns those who do not honor and respect their parents. "For God commanded, saying, 'Honor thy father and mother:' and, 'He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death'" (Matt. 15:4). However, in Ephesians 6:1, God says through Paul, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right." Notice Paul says "in the Lord," that is, as long as it is obedience within God's laws. God does not tell us to follow the things our parents do if they are not right in God's sight (Acts 5:29). But, understand this point: Obedience to God is not an excuse for dishonoring parents! Nor does God hold us responsible for their actions "Now, lo, if he [a Father] hegat a son, that seeth all his father's sins which he hath done, and considereth, and doeth not such like...he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live... When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live" (Ezek. 18:14-19). God does not say to "look down your nose at" and disrespect your parents and the office He has given them! Just because they are not perfect does not allow you — who also are not perfect — to disobey them. Remember that even a truly converted Christian is not perfect. Respect, love, and honor your parents and the office of authority God has given them. Have genuine humility. Obey them all you can! Do not overlook the good in your folks. Never forget how much your parents have fed, clothed, housed and educated you. If you are at home, go cut of your way to be on good terms with your father and mother. Help with the chores. Be with your family on outings together so your parents can enjoy their children as long as they can. Never offend them or try to cram your beliefs or religion down their throats. Be a success for your parents in school or on the job. Write to them if you are away from home. When Mother's Day rolls around, there is nothing wrong with showing how much you love and appreciate all your Mom has done for you by sending her flowers, candy, or something she has been wanting. God feels very strongly about this. He is our spiritual father and we owe Him awe and respect. He wants us to obey Him and His perfect way of living. God will not tolerate a rebellious individual who will not respect Him or earthly parents. Remember what God says about your physical parents: "Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth" (Eph. 6:1-3). God will bless us not only with long life and physical blessings, but also with spiritual blessings and EVERLASTING LIFE!
Question: Would it make any difference if a Christian were to become engaged in a business partnership or similar close relationship with a nonbeliever? Is this a matter of personal choice, or does the Bible give us clear-cut guidelines that are applicable to associations of this nature?
The Bible is a complete book. It contains the basic guidelines, principles, and knowledge essential to man's happiness and well-being — knowledge he would generally be unable to acquire for himself. Thankfully, we are given instruction that directly applies to the questions posed above. In II Corinthians 6:14-15 we read: "Be [become) ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness... or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?" This scripture has direct application to any close relationship or partnership that one might enter, and would include marriage between a Christian and a non-Christian. Let's consider the wisdom of this instruction. True Christianity is a way of life. It is the way that will bring greatest happiness at this time, and eternal life in God's Kingdom. It is the way of surrender and obedience to God and His commands — of spiritually growing each day more like God so that we may he finally born into His family and Kingdom. But a nonbelieving associate, business partner or mate is very likely going to oppose and fight the way of life God reveals. "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be'' (Rom. 8:7). Other Bible principles regarding association between persons of different beliefs are found in Matthew. 12:25 and Amos 3:3. "Can two walk together except they be agreed?" The answer is obvious — they can't! I Corinthians 1:10 and I Peter 3:8 also show how important it is that there be unity and singleness of mind and purpose in order to have success in such close relationships. Take for example marriage. In most cases interreligious marriages encounter many problems and obstacles, and they are among the most likely of all marriages to fail. True, there are some "unequally yoked" marriages as well as Christian and non-Christian partnerships that have succeeded. But how much more successful would they have been had they been yoked together with those of like faith! "He that walketh with wise men," we are told, "shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall he destroyed" (Prov. 13:20). Wise counsel? Indeed, because every person with whom we come into contact influence us to some degree. It is important, therefore, that we wisely choose our associates. We are warned that 'a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump" (I Cor. 5:6). The Bible shows that a true Christian will not include as his close circle of bosom friends those who are yet of the world (James 4:4-8), Does this mean that a Christian cannot have any dealings with one who isn't a Christian? No, the Bible does not imply that we are to cut ourselves off completely from ever having any contact with the unconverted, "for then must ye needs go out of the world" (I Cor. 5:10). Christ said: 'Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). Christians are supposed to be "the salt of the earth the light of the world" (Matt. 5:13, 14) because they have a love for all men. But at the same time we are to come out of this Babylonish civilization referred to as "this present evil world" (Gal. 1:4), established by men under the sway of the Devil. "Wherefore come out from amoung them [the people of the world], and be ye separate, saith the Lord..." (II Cor. 6:17; Rev. 18:4). The teaching of the Bible, when all the scriptures are pit together, is that we are to go into the world, but that we are not to become a part of the world (termed Babylon) and its society, customs, business practices, moral codes and traditions (I Cor. 2:15-18). God's plagues will fall on those who will not renounce this present evil world (Rev. 18:4). But what of those already yoked in such a relationship? If a Christian is already unequally yoked with and unbeliever in a harmonious partnership which does not interfere with his Christian life or growth, he may continue until Cod makes it possible to do otherwise. Whenever such a relationship develops to the place where a Christian is not able to obey God and grow in grace and knowledge as he must, then, the Bible instruction is that he should "obey God rather than men" and be prepared to immediately sever his association in such a partnership! This of course does not include marriage because once it is bound it remains bound until death (Matt. 19:6). Here it becomes the responsibility of the converted person to be a proper light and example until such time as God sees fit to convert the other mate (I Cor. 7:13-16; I Peter 3:1-2). Those in such a position may request the articles: "Be a Positive Christian." "Personal from the Editor, and the booklet Your Marriage Can be Happy. for future help. So we are given the answer in God's Word. Here then is positive instruction given by a loving God who wants to spare us the bitter fruits of a relationship that is unwise and ill-fated because the other individual has a totally different mind, purpose, and goal.