The Despicable List

Filled with unrighteousness and wickedness? What about coveters and fornicators? Or deceitful, envious, murderers? Haters of God, inventors of evil things, malicious and despiteful?

These are words you probably don’t use to describe yourself.

So why does Paul in this list from Romans 1:28-32 use words that probably do describe you… ‘disobedient to parents.’

He has a whole list of nasty and despicable attributes, and he puts ‘disobedient to parents’ at the end of it.

Just in case you’re thinking maybe Paul made a mistake, slipping that in there, he has a similar list in 2 Timothy 3:2-5. Once again, disobedient to parents is on the list.

The Bible makes it clear; disobedience to parents is a sin that is high on the most wanted list.

(I hope it does not describe your pattern of life, but it must describe what you’ve done at some point. I realise some of the readers here are no longer under their parents authority, but this is still an important topic to discuss. And later we’ll get into where the line is when you’re no longer under your parents’ authority.)

High Stakes

In Israel a child who was rebellious to their parents was to be taken outside the city and stoned to death.

Why is disobedience to parents so bad?

When God places an authority, that authority represents him. So when you disobey your parents, you disobey God.

Romans 13:1-2 says,

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” (ESV)

Rebelling against parents is rebelling against the order God has created. It’s shouting disapproval at God and setting up an alternative order in opposition to Him

There is one command specifically given to children… obey your parents. It’s important to get it right.


When I read the Bible, I find so much of living a godly life is about submitting my will. I have to submit what I would most like to do, and do the will of another.

Primarily, it’s God’s will we have to submit to. Next He has placed others in our lives who have His authority and can ask us to submit our will to theirs. All of us to the government authorities, employees to employers, wives to husbands, and children to parents.

It’s not about their worth. Parents are not better than children, husbands are not better than wives, and so on.

It’s about God’s worth. They represent Him.

The basis of success – true success – in your life, will be your ability to submit to the authorities God has given you.

I believe God places so much emphasis on obeying parents, because it teaches us that God is Lord. There are authorities whose commands must be obeyed. Having parents to obey is the perfect way to learn this early in life.

You want to do this. Like all God’s commands, it’s in your best interest; not just now, it sets up your future.

And whether you’re still under your parents’ authority or not, it’s great to remember you can obey all authorities ‘as unto the Lord.’ I find it so helpful to think, ‘this authority represents God.’ Doing the mundane stuff right glorifies Him.


The Bible also says to honour your parents.

While obedience is a command given only to children, honour is a life long requirement. And honour is harder. You can obey without honouring. Honour is harder to put your finger on than simply doing what you’re told. Honour is often in the little things… an attitude, a tone of voice, even posture.

Next time I want to look at:
•    When are you no longer a child, when can you stop obeying?
•    And what does honour look like, even if you are grown up?