The Fourth Commandment:
“Honor Your Father and Mother”.
Ugh, you mean I have to listen to what my parents have to say?
Yes. God gave us parents for a reason. That reason is for our creation! Hey! Who’da thought that? You really should be grateful for your parents, no matter how dysfunctional they may be, because without them, you wouldn’t be reading this.
It may be worth pointing out, that your parents are sinners, just like you and I. This does not excuse you for your sin, that is, because your mom did this or your dad did that, that this entitles you to sin. This is wrong. They may be the root cause of your sin, but, you are still responsible for your actions.
When we honor our parents, we are holding them in high regard. Why do we do this? Again, of all the people here on earth we should be giving such high respect, it should be our parents, after all, they brought us into the world, took care of us, nurtured us, bathed us, clothed us, fed us, housed us, educated us, you get the idea.
Without further ado, here are some mortal sins against the Fourth Commandment.
Serious failure to care for aged parents/Failure to carry out the last will of a deceased parent
The commandment is very clear that we are to honor our parents. That would include taking care of them in their time of need. Our parents nurtured us during our childhood and possibly even up to our college years as well. It makes sense for us to take care of them, and as long as their last will is not immoral, to follow that up for them.
Serious disrespect for or disobedience to parents, superiors or authorities
We have to respect our parents. We also are to respect superiors (boss, supervisors, managers, etc) as well as authorities (judges, police, etc). Again, it has to be moral. Obviously, we do not have to listen if it breaks the law, and especially if it breaks moral law.
Wishing death or evil on parents
We are not to wish death or evil on anybody, but most importantly, not our parents.
Abuse or serious neglect of children
This is where some people will think it goes a little different. Yes, we are to honor our parents, but we as parents must also take care of our children. What makes it a mortal sin to abuse or seriously neglect our children is that they are individuals that God has given to us to take care of. They are not ours, nor are they our property. Some abuses would be beating your children (especially adult children), starving your children (for lengthy periods of time). Serious neglect would also include abandonment, failure to take care of your children, and other such parenting failures.
Failure to baptize children in a reasonable time (within a few months) after birth
As a Catholic, we are responsible for baptizing our children. No ifs, ands or buts about it. We believe that baptism washes away the stain of original sin and infuses God’s grace into us. It is a permanent sign of God’s love and mercy. It is understandable that when the new baby arrives you are incredibly busy, but, you are now responsible for your child’s religious upbringing and forming their conscience in this stage of their life. If your baby dies and hasn’t received baptism, there is the chance that they will not make it to Heaven. The Church teaches that if we die with unrepentant mortal sin, as well as have not been washed with the saving grace of Baptism, we can go to Hell. Baptize your children shortly after they are born, the sooner the better.
Serious neglect of the religious education or upbringing of children
As mentioned above, you are now responsible for formulating the conscience of your child. You need to teach your children about the faith, and educate them in it. Get them to practice their faith, explain it to them, get them excited about it. Take them to Mass weekly. Pray at meals. The family that prays together, stays together. When you die and are judged by Jesus, you will be held responsible for the early formation that you have given your children. It is one thing for them to abandon the faith when they go out on their own (you can’t control them, keep this in mind (and pray for them!)) but, if you did not give them any reason to keep the faith, that is on you.
This post is one of many in a series on Mortal Sins. Click here for more posts explaining and defining mortal sins.