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by tzadikguy

“If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter, or the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is like your own soul will entice you secretly, saying, “Let us go and worship the gods of others” – that you did not know, you or your forefathers, from the gods of the peoples that are all around you, those near to you or those far from you, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth – you shall not accede to him and not hearken to him; your eye shall not take pity on him, you shall not be compassionate nor conceal him. Rather, you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be the first against him to kill him, and the hand of the entire people afterwards.” Deuteronomy 13:7-10

G-d is a Holy G-d. He is the one and only. Serving other gods is a sin worthy of death. HaShem commands us to literally kill the person that commits such a heinous sin. Although, there is something interesting about this passage. Notice in the list of potential seducers there is no mention of a father and/or mother. The reason is the mitzvah [command] “honor your father and mother” takes precedence in this situation. A father and mother are to be honored and respected forever. According to this verse a child is never allowed to kill or even strike his/her mother or father even if the parents force the child to serve other gods. HaShem states in Exodus 21:

15“Whoever strikes his father or his mother shall be put to death.”

17“Whoever curses his father or his mother shall be put to death.”

In verse 17, the word “curses” in the Septuagint is reviles which Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines as “to subject to verbal abuse”. Dishonor and disrespect occur through our attitudes, our actions, and even our words. We are called to always bring honor to our parents even when it is difficult; even when our parents force us to serve other gods. Why is this so? I believe the relationship between parents and children is an earthly reflection of the relationship between us and G-d. The Bible describes G-d as “Father” in several instances. “So now, HaShem, You are our Father. We are the clay and You are our Potter, and we are all Your handiwork.” Isaiah 64:8 Just as G-d created man, a husband and wife create a child. In a Biblical marriage, G-d is a crucial part of the relationship, and when we dishonor our father and mother, we are dishonoring G-d.

In the extreme case where a person’s parents actually force them to worship foreign gods an appeal can be made in a respectful and honorable way. A great guide to presenting wise appeals is found in Dr. Gothard’s The Basic Youth Conflicts Seminar: Seminar Workbook.

  1. Check out attitudes
  2. Clear our consciences
  3. Discern basic intentions
  4. Design a creative alternative
  5. Appeal to our authority
  6. Give G-d time to change their minds

If the parents still enforce idol worship after the appeal then the child is obligated to honor his/her parents’ demand. HaShem spoke and said, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the L-RD your G-d is giving you.”1 When we honor and respect our parents HaShem promises a long life. This is one of the few mitzvot [commandments] that is accompanied by a promise. We should not do what is right in our own eyes and dishonor our parents through disobedience. Who are we to say to G-d, “I don’t think that is right so I am not going to do that.”? Our mortal minds cannot understand HaShem’s plan or purpose. Therefore we must be obedient to His Torah. Similarly, we do not understand why our parents would force us to disobey HaShem but we must honor and respect them as our authority. Parents will be accountable one day for all actions, but it is not our place to dishonor or curse our parents.

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1Exodus 20:12

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