Honour Forgotten

Giving Honour, which I have looked at in some recent posts, is a matter of the heart. We are commanded to give honour, not as an outward form but as a heart choice. The problem in our society is that we have lost the notion of honour and only the form remains.

In bygone eras the giving of honour was a matter of character training. Children and youth learned to hold people in a place of honour. From that heart to give honour the child would happily do the things that expressed the honour in their heart.

When I was a child, and that wasn’t so long ago in historical terms, children still called adults by a title, such as Mr Jones or Mrs Smith. We were taught to respect our elders. Adults could not be spoken to the way we would speak to another child in the school yard. We had to say, “Excuse me”, when we wanted their attention. We had to wait for them to give us their attention before speaking. And so it went.

In a generation before mine it was customary for children to remain silent in the company of adults. At the dinner table, for example, children were to sit quietly and not speak unless spoken to. This behaviour pattern expressed honour to the adults and humility and self-control on the part of the children.

In the middle of last century it was still considered reasonable for a wife to serve her husband. She might prepare a hot drink for him and fetch his slippers to make him comfortable.

When travelling in a bus or train children were to give up their seat to an adult and everyone would give up their seat for an elderly person.

Honour was given to adults, the aged, those who were in positions of responsibility, those needing care, and so on. However, many people only learned the form, and not the heart attitude of honour that went with it.

In a previous post I pointed out that honour is a visible process. I’m going to almost contradict myself here, by noting that it is possible to go through the external motions, but not actually have the right heart attitude.

What happened historically was that children were taught to do the right thing, but not to feel the right heart attitude. Giving up their seat to an adult was seen as a duty, like a chore, but not as an expression of honour for that person.

Wives were told to please their husband, but as a matter of duty, not as an expression of the honour that was to come from their heart.

Children were told to be silent but did not understand why. So they demanded to be heard and no-one knew how to deal with that.

The actions have all but disappeared, because the people trying to teach them only held them as duties and appearances that had to be kept up. When the actions were challenged or disobeyed the teachers could not come up with a compelling reason to reinstate the lost practices. The problem? The practices had become a hollow and empty form of the process that was remembered. The action prevailed for a season, without the true heart basis upon which the actions were built.

We need to rediscover ‘honour’ and that will be reflected in actions that express honour to others. But it starts in the heart. If a child despises their parent then forced acts of honour are vain. If a child has no heart for the elderly then they will resent having to give up their seat for those people.

Honour has been forgotten and needs to be rediscovered. I pray that the Lord give us grace to make that discovery and to change the way people behave because we are able to transform their hearts first.