The Fourth Commandment is the first of the “love of neighbour commandments”, immediately
following the “love of God commandments.” No one, except Adam and Eve, has ever come into the world without a father and a mother. God has willed that after Him, we should honour our parents to whom we owe life and who have handed on to us the knowledge of God. We are obliged to honour and respect all those whom God, for our good, has vested with His authority.
The Fourth Commandment is addressed expressly to children. However it likewise concerns the
ties of kinship between members of the extended family. It requires honour, affection and
gratitude toward elders and ancestors.
Observing the Fourth Commandment brings its reward: “ Honour your father and your mother,
that your days may be long in the land which the LORD your God gives you.”
Old Testament – Deuteronomy 5:16
New Testament – Cf. Mt 15:4-6, 19:19, 1 Cor 4:14-17; Eph 6:1-3; Mt 22:39-40; Rom 13:9
The Fourth Commandment requires love, respect, honour for parents (filial piety), obedience to parents and to civil and religious superiors. Also to parental figures in Church or state, patriotism. Duties of parents, Church and state toward members, especially the duty of a human and religious education. Care on the part of parents for the spiritual and temporal welfare of their children.
The Fourth Commandment commands us to respect and love our parents, to obey them in all
that is not sinful, and to help them when they are in need. We are also obliged to respect and obey all lawful authority.
The Fourth Commandment condemns hatred, dishonour, disrespect disobedience of parents and superiors, neglect in old age etc. of parents.
The Fourth Commandment forbids:
(A) For children:
1) All manner of anger and hatred against parents and other lawful authority.
2) Provoking [annoying or irritating] them to anger.
Grieving them [causing them deep sorrow or distress]. Insulting them [saying something meant to hurt them].
3) Neglecting them in their necessity [not helping when needed; not caring from them when they are old].
4) Contempt or disobedience to their lawful commands. [Serious disrespect. Acting as if their commands are worthless.]
(B) For students:
1) Disrespect, disobedience, stubbornness, idleness.
2) Wasting of time.
(C) For parents:
1) Hating their children. Cursing them.
2) Giving scandal [bad example] to their children.
3) Allowing children to grow up in ignorance, idleness or sin.
4) Showing habitual partiality [favoritism] without cause.
5) Deferring their children’s Baptism.
6) Neglecting to watch over their bodily health, their religious instruction, the company they keep, the books they read, the movies and TV that they see, the electronic games that they play, the Internet sites that they visit, etc.
7) Failing to correct them when needed.
8) Being harsh or cruel in correction.
9) Failing to educate children in the faith, prayer and all the virtues.
10) Failing to provide for the physical and spiritual needs of the children.
(D) For husbands and wives:
1) Putting obstacles to the fulfillment of religious duties.
2) Lack of gentleness and consideration in regard to each other’s faults.
3) Unreasonable jealousy.
4) Neglect of household duties.
5) Sulkiness [showing resentment and ill-humour by sullen, withdrawn behavior].
6) Injurious words.
(E) For employers:
1) Not allowing one’s employees reasonable time for religious duties and instruction.
2) Giving bad example to them or allowing others to do so.
3) Withholding their lawful wages.
4) Not caring for them in sickness
5) Firing them arbitrarily or without cause.
(F) For the employed:
1) Disrespect for employers.
2) Lack of obedience in matters where one has bound oneself to obey.
3) Waste of time. Neglect of work.
4) Waste of employer’s property by dishonesty, carelessness or neglect.
For professional men and public officials:
5) Culpable [blameworthy] lack of knowledge relating to duties of office or profession.