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  • Writer's pictureMcYoung Y. Yang

The Necessity of the 5th Commandment

Updated: Sep 28, 2021

Social Experiment:

I scoffed at the notion that the Apostle Paul listed "disobedient to parents" as one of the premiere sins amid murder, slander, covetousness, and deceit (Rom. 1:29-30). To me, this nomenclature seemed a bit much. How could something like this be considered vile among the vast array of dreadful deeds found within this broken world? Surely this was misplaced. It must have been established for the sake of struggling parents. It seemed, therefore, to be disproportionately emphasized.

Or was it?

Sociological studies in the past 30 years have found that much of the disparities in crime, drug use, and self-inflicted violencein large parthave been due to major dysfunctions found within the family unit. Hence, single parent homes and/or fatherlessness has played a pivotal role in the degradation of the generations and, in turn, broader society. According to, a faith-based organization whose statistics are instituted through the U. S. Department of Justice and Texas Department of Corrections, cite that 85% of youth who are currently in prison grew up in a fatherless home. Simultaneously, 75% of rapist deal with displaced anger due to father abandonment. In addition, 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorder come from fatherless homes.[1] Sociological studies affirm the biblical teaching, then, that the 5th commandment is essential for the advancement and flourishing of any given society.

Biblical Foundation:

A pattern of disobedience is no slight in the categorical framing of sin. Such endeavors speak to the deeper depravity that haunts the nucleus of the human race. As Adam and Eve were given the cultural mandate, such commands includ a God-centeredness which points toward the rearing of faithful offspring (cf. Gen. 1:26-28; 2:15).[2] Yet the discipline, accountability, and structureall central to God's designoperate for the benefit and prosperity of children; it is no coincidence, then, that the 5th commandment comes with a promise (cf. Ex. 20:12; cf. Eph. 6:2).

12 Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. (Exodus 20:12)

Therefore, the necessity and urgency of the 5th commandment is paramount. Discipleshipin particular family discipleshipis foundational and it is a much needed engagement by and for the community of saints. Three rudimentary components (this is NOT an exhaustive composition) flow from the 5th commandment: (1) God as authority, (2) proper engagement with authority, and (3) exemplifying authority.

Worship of the Creator. The family unit is ground zero for the inculcation of the Christian tradition (cf. 2 Thess. 2:15). It is not only the first institutional guild to teach the bedrock pillars of the faith, but the family unit is the stage where the drama of doctrine is vehemently performed. Parents exercise authority, one which is meant to be steward to the glory of God as representatives of the Creator God Himself. All authority find their aim and purpose in Him. Mark F. Rooker asserts that "parental law in the Ten Commandments is spiritual and presupposes the spiritual dignity of parents. Parents should be viewed as representatives of God."[3] Not that parents are infallible, but their leadership is one that does and should derive from the decrees of God; that is, they must wield their authority in accords to the Word. Therefore, a child's first practical submission toward her Creator will be shaped by her obedience to her paternal and maternal guardian.

Ground Zero to Social Structure. If the family unit is the starting point to instill faithful teachings in the Lord, it is also the axiom to which societal function is managed and matured. Parental guidance and familial engagement is a child's initial encounter with persons not themselves. "In this relationship with our parents," according to Kevin DeYoung, "we learn what it is to have someone in authority over us, to listen to people, to honor them, and to do things that we sometimes don't want to do. Someone else has a say over us, so we're going to trust that they know better."[4] If the greatest commandment is to love God and the second is similar to itloving othersthe bible is consistent, then, in portraying the sequential and necessary order of these commandments (cf. Matt. 22:36-40; Mk. 12:28-34; Lk. 10:25-28; 1 Jn. 4:19-21). Thus, if persons are going to be released into the broader society, a sound and solid familial structure is necessary for personal as well as corporate success. Fundamentally, a child learns how to interact within society through the familial structure that is granted her.

A Picture of a Greater Kingdom. The dynamic of family is a vital image that spans the broader narrative of Scripture. Therefore, it is central that the church continues to hold to its biblical definition. The family unit is not merely a western construct forged upon humanistic ideals, but rather is a divinely designed institution created for the good of His people and the glory of His Name. "The family, then, is God's means," according to John M. Frame, "both of dominion and of redemption. It is as families that people replenish and subdue the earth, and it is as families that we serve as ambassadors of Christ."[5]

A Command with a Promise:

The Apostle Paul asserts that proper honor toward mother and father is a command instilled "with a promise" (Eph. 6:2). It is the infrastructure to which belief in the Creator is nurtured, the foundation for society is built, and the basis for understanding and living out God's redemptive purposes are demonstrated. Promise of long life and prosperity, then, is contingent upon the principles that seep from the well of honoring proper authorities that are construed by the Creator God Himself. As the church presses forward in the proclamation of the Gospel, it will be vital to uphold these biblical truths (for the good of the church and the people that surround her). In this way, by holding onto the Gospel and, simultaneously, submitting to His divine commands, the community of saints will be the salt of the earth that He has called them to be (Matt. 5:13). Soli Deo Gloria!



[1] “36 Shocking Statistics on Fatherless Homes | Life Is Beautiful”, accessed August 12, 2020,

[2] John M. Frame, The Doctrine of the Christian Life (PHillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2008), 593-595.

[3] Mark F. Rooker, The Ten Commandments: Ethics for the Twenty-First Century, NAC Studies in Bible & Theology (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2010), 107.

[4] Kevin DeYoung, The 10 Commandments: What They Mean, Why They Matter, and Why We Should Obey Them (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2018), 80-81.

[5] Frame, The Doctrine of the Christian Life, 595.


McYoung Y. Yang (MDiv, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; ThM, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary)

He is the husband to Debbie Yang and the father to McCayden (11), McCoy (10), McColsen (8), and DeYoung (5).  He is one of the Teaching Pastors at Covenant City Church which is a church-plant in St. Paul, MN. McYoung is continuing his doctoral studies at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, MO where he hopes to obtain his PhD in Systematic Theology. His ambition is to use his training as a means to serve the local church in living life through the Gospel lens. McYoung enjoys reading/writing, sports, and playing with his children.


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