In his 1943 work The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis writes, “We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.” Lewis’ observation more than seventy-five years ago falls far short in assessing the widespread disregard for honor in our day. Honor is no longer merely laughed at today, it is now mocked, ridiculed, and despised.
Along with dignity, respect, and decorum, honor is not fading away due to misuse, it is actively attacked and assailed from every side. Honor is assaulted not only from the world but also from within the church and from within the home. Many parents no longer highly esteem the value of honor in the home. Although some may teach honor, few actually do anything to reinforce it. Many men don’t show proper honor to their wives, and they even sometimes laugh when their children speak or act dishonorably to their mothers. I am repeatedly shocked to hear children speak disrespectfully to their parents, yet the shock begins to wear off when I see their parents speak disrespectfully to others, particularly online. Similarly, few wives honor their husbands as they ought, and it seems that some women find Paul’s teaching about submission entirely reprehensible.
Along with dignity, respect, and decorum, honor is not fading away due to misuse, it is actively attacked and assailed from every side.
Moreover, many of the cultural heroes of young people today are disrespectful and dishonorable sports figures, pop stars, and self-made social media pundits. It is no wonder that this is the case when traditional authority figures are torn down and when men are portrayed as idiotic fools on television shows and commercials, and the honorable men and women of the past are derided as out of step with progressive ways of thinking.
It should not surprise us that many young people are leaving and despising the church when their parents have long dishonored weekly congregational Lord’s Day worship, dishonored their own membership vows to the church, and dishonored their elders, pastors, and fellow congregants. Nor should it surprise us how many who profess faith in Christ have such little regard for the sacred Word of God when so many pastors have exchanged the preaching of the Word of God in season and out of season for watered-down, attractional, sociocultural, pop-psychological anecdotes and stories combined with ear-tickling, emotionalistic entertainment. Such preaching honors only the pastor and not the God of Scripture. Although honor may be rapidly disappearing in the world, we must never let it disappear from our hearts, homes, or churches that we might always honor everyone (1 Peter 2:17) and honor our Lord whose honor will not be mocked.
Dr. Burk Parsons (@BurkParsons) is editor of Tabletalk magazine, senior pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., and a Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow. He is cotranslator and coeditor of A Little Book on the Christian Life by John Calvin.