How many of you enjoyed puberty? Puberty is awkward because you are caught in this uncomfortable state of becoming an adult physically but not yet being fully an adult. Everyone stumbles through this self-conscious stage at varying speeds.
College is a lot like puberty. It is the already but the not yet of reaching adulthood socially. Some students have helicopter parents who insist on meeting their every need while others have been “cut off” from their parents to financially fend for themselves. Still others come from terrible family backgrounds and can’t wait to escape them in college.
In the 5th commandment, God declared, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you” (Exodus 20:12). Since all students are at different points in their parent relationships, what it looks like to honor them will look different in every case. However, there are a few guiding principles that should shape the way you honor your parents while in college:
- Responsibility-authority principle. He who has the responsibility over your wellbeing has the authority over your wellbeing. As your level of financial and social freedom increases, the level of authority your parents have decreases. Yet, respecting your parents does not end when their responsibility for you does. God calls us to a lifetime of honoring our parents.
- Submission to parents cannot replace submission to God. In other words, the desires of your parents should be honored unless they cause you to compromise your obedience to God. This is especially challenging for those who have lost or divorced parents. Jesus models this principle well in Luke 2:49-51.
- Cost-benefit analysis. You cannot receive the benefits (i.e. tuition or spending money) of having parental assistance without accepting the costs (obedience) of having parental assistance. This principle is always tested the most when students go home for summer or Christmas break to live under their parent’s roof again.
God expects us to honor our parents, regardless of our life circumstances for one simple reason—the way we honor our parent’s authority reflects the way we honor His authority.