I’m having a difficult time “honoring my father and mother” while trying to also teach my children that God created all people equal. My parents are Southern Baptist and have always said the right thing or acted “appropriately” in front of others but they are very racist. When they visit my home they very plainly use language, regarding people of different color, that I don’t want around my children. We live in the north and this is strange to them. My problem is I don’t know how to broach the topic without making my parents feel like I’m disrespecting them. I do however want my children to know that I don’t approve of this language or way of thinking but I don’t want them to see me as showing my own parents disrespect either. Mostly I’m worried about the example they are setting and the confusion this could cause my children. How would you handle this?
It is a matter of priorities.
For example, the Bible says to obey the government (Romans 13:1), but the higher priority is to obey God. Where God’s commandments differ from the government, God is to be obeyed.
Similarly, you need to get your priorities straight. Yes, you need to honor your father and mother, but in the right order of Godly duty. Your priorities are: God, your spouse, your children, then your parents. Where your father and mother violate those priorities, you are to RESPECTFULLY respond in whatever manner appropriate.
You have several things to consider, none of them easy:
- By your own admission, your parents are being hypocrites by “acting appropriately” in public, then being racist in private (and I’m assuming we are talking about TRUE racism here, not the politically correct ridiculous oversensitivity that the media flames up). As Christians, regardless if those in question are your own parents, you have a duty to rebuke a fellow Believer for such behavior.
I have known people who have used racist language for so long, that they don’t even realize it. Sometimes just a calm conversation will change the situation. I personally have experienced this, choosing to very gently ask someone to quit speaking that way around my children, and they did. I think it just took them realizing that people really do get offended at true racism. Genuine Christians have NO BUSINESS participating in, or passively condoning real racism.
- Regardless, you need to teach your children exactly what I’m teaching you: honor your parents, but honor God first. Teach them that just because parents say or do something wrong, it does not mean we “honor” it anyway, even by ignoring it. Wrong is wrong. It doesn’t matter who it is and honoring Godliness is more important than honoring any person, including our parents. Teach your children that “honoring father and mother” is Godly, but honoring God is a higher priority in a situation like this. This is not showing your parents disrespect – it’s teaching your children the proper Godly order of things.
- Next, teach them WHY racism is bad: there is no such thing as race! “Race” is a concoction of EVOLUTION. Evolution teaches that there are different classes of people primarily distinguishable by skin color. The fact is, skin color is nothing more than a varying amount of melanin brought on by genetic selection. Humans are humans, PERIOD. Culture, language, religion and genetic selection (such as skin color, eye shape, hair type, etc) make us look and act different… but a human is a human is a human.
Christ died for EVERY HUMAN no matter what skin color, eye shape or hair type. For any person of any color to think they are superior of any other person of another color is simply devilish pride or ignorance. So teach your children why “racism” is wrong, and why “races” don’t even exist. That is evolutionary thinking that has permeated our culture, and the Church.
- God is not the author of confusion (1Cor 14:33). When you teach your children the truth, there will be no confusion. When you have this truth firmly grounded in your own mind, there will be no confusion.
I think you obviously need to have a talk with your parents and tell them your concerns. Do it with love and respect – THAT is the way you show honor. Your Christian duty comes before their feelings. Your children come before their feelings. The truth comes before their feelings. So tell them with love and respect, that you’ll have no more racist language or comments in your home.
Here is my personal advice: if they respond favorably, then all is well. If they get mad at you and respond negatively then tell them that if they insist on continuing with the racist language, you will point out to your children immediately that racist language and comments are wrong, in front of your parents if necessary, even if embarrassing.
Tell your parents with the greatest respect, that your Christian faith and your children come first, even at the price of them being mad or uncomfortable.
Remember an over-arching principle: AS CHRISTIANS WE ARE NEVER TO PROVIDE A COMFORTABLE ABODE FOR SINFUL BEHAVIOR. No matter who it is, or how uncomfortable for us, we are never to sit idly by while sin is provided an unchallenged haven… especially in our own homes where our impressionable children are ever watching.
You honor your parents the most when you teach your children true Godliness.
Readers, how about a little help here. Any advice? I know that racism is alive and well in ALL skin colors and cultures. I’d love to hear some feedback from my black, yellow, brown and red skinned friends… put your comments on the message forum here.