The Westminster Shorter Catechism – Questions 63 & 64
Q. 63. Which is the fifth commandment?
A. The fifth commandment is, “Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee,” Exod. xx. 12.
Honor thy father and thy mother. –Esteem and love them; obey their commands, when these are not contrary to the commandments of God; and maintain them with a part of the fruit of thy labor, if they be in want, and unable to support themselves.
Q. 64. What is required in the fifth commandment?
A. The fifth commandment requireth the preserving the honor, and performing the duties, belonging to every one, in their several places and relations, as superiors, inferiors, or equals.
Preserving the honor. –Paying every one that respect which is due to them, in their rank and station in life.
Superiors. –Those who are above us in station, such as Parents, Masters, Ministers, Magistrates, &c.
Inferiors. –Those who are below us in rank, such as children, servants, people, subjects, &c.
Equals. –Those of the same rank with ourselves, such as brother, sisters, neighbors, &c.
In this answer we are taught three things:
- That there are different degrees or relations among men, such as superiors, inferiors, and equals.
- That we are commanded to preserve the honor belonging to every one in their several places and relations. –Rom. xiii. 7. Render, therefore, to all their dues; tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.
- That we are also commanded to perform the duties belonging to every one in their several places and relations; –such as,
(1.) The duty which we owe to our superiors. –Eph. vi. 1, 5. Children, obey your parents in the Lord. Servants, be obedient to those that are your masters, according to the flesh. Rom. xiii. 1. Let every soul be subject to the higher powers.
(2.) Those which we owe to our inferiors. –Eph. vi. 4, 9. Ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath; but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. And ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening; knowing that your Master also is in heaven.
(3.) The duties which we owe our equals. –Rom. xii. 10. Be kindly affectioned one to another, with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another.