God gives us rules in society for our own good. Men are to be men, women are to be women, and kings are to be kings, and servants are to be servants. There is no denying that this is the natural order of things. We remember that the Ten Commandments are not a response to sin, but are the very character of the Lord laid out for us to follow and be conformed to. If we would stand in authority over the law then we have become a law unto ourselves.
We are going to do something a little bit different today for our look at the Larger Catechism. In the act of taking questions out of order it may seem as if we are doing violence to the original intent of the writers. If they wanted to keep the scope and the definition of the fifth command together they would of done so. Why should I feel the right to divide them? It’s a good inquiry worthy of an explanation. Simply put the breaking up of a multi-year look of 196 questions is going to mean that some decisions will be necessary in order to better explain the totality of the purpose of the Christian religion for believers and unbelievers alike. When it comes to this part of the law some terms are going to be used that are wildly foreign to the way we talk today, for good or for ill. Any conversation that gets into hierarchy, roles, and place is going to receive some pushback, since nearly all of our agencies and corporations operate with a strict conception of egalitarianism, that is that men, women, children, etc… are equal in such a way that any talk of difference is seen as demeaning or derogatory. Yet, we will see that the Bible is anti-egalitarian in a number of important ways.
In our walk through these three catechism questions we’ll see a couple of things that will neuter any conversation that the WLC is in any way making ontological statements about worth or value, one to another. However, what we will notice is that God has a purpose in not only making us different, but giving each of us unique roles to play in His kingdom. Our faith is patriarchal and it is so because God is God and we are not. Let’s get into the Q/A’s so we can talk more:
Q. 123. Which is the fifth commandment?
A. The fifth commandment is, Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
Q. 124. Who are meant by father and mother in the fifth commandment?
A. By father and mother, in the fifth commandment, are meant, not only natural parents, but all superiors in age and gifts; and especially such as, by God’s ordinance, are over us in place of authority, whether in family, church, or commonwealth.
Q. 126. What is the general scope of the fifth commandment?
A. The general scope of the fifth commandment is, the performance of those duties which we mutually owe in our several relations, as inferiors, superiors, or equals.
As you can probably tell from the middle of the three questions there are some assumptions made about the way God made the world that need defined.