Friday, March 15, 2013

Interesting Luther Quote

In teaching about Leah and Rachel speaking against Laban, their father (LW vol. 6, p. 17), Luther says the following:

Here, indeed, the Fourth Commandment could cease to apply. For what paternal quality does Laban have that is worthy of honor? He is a beast and a monster! But how will you honor him as a parent who does not want to be a father and who disdains to regard you as a son but has stripped off all paternal feeling and affection and has degenerated into a tyrant?

This seems to contradict what Luther wrote in the Large Catechism when he said:

. . . however lowly, poor, frail, and strange their parents may be, nevertheless, they are the father and the mother given to them by God. Parents are not to be deprived of their honor because of their conduct or their failings. Therefore, we are not to consider who they are or how they may be, but the will of God, who has created and ordained parenthood.

Perhaps the difference is between the office of parent and the person. Parents as sinners will always fail in their conduct but are still due the honor of their office as parent. However, if the man or woman abdicates the office through abandonment or abuse, then (as Luther said above) the Fourth Commandment could cease to apply?

Interesting also is the use of the word "could." It need not necessarily cease - the child in love could continue to honor such parents with an extraordinary, divine love. But the honoring could cease without sinning because the office has been abandoned. Do you think this is a right understanding?

In this regard, then, we could also apply this reasoning to the "other authorities" included in the Fourth Commandment, including government.

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