The Fifth Commandment: Frame on Family

On Sunday evening we will be thinking about the fifth commandment as we continue our way through the Westminster Shorter Catechism.  John Frame in his excellent The Doctrine of the Christian Life, shows how the narrow application of the command within the context of family relationships, is rightly to be broadened to the other areas of authority in life – church and state.  He also gives a timely warning against one sphere of authority encroaching upon another.

So the family is the basic unit of human society. … all the institutions of society—prophetic, priestly, and kingly—begin in the family. To children, parents are rulers, educators, providers, and evangelists. All other forms of authority are extended forms of fatherhood and motherhood. Historically developmentally, and logically, the family is, I said in the previous chapter, “the fundamental sphere from which all others are derived.”  Honor in all spheres is derived from parental honor.

The family is also crucial to economic well-being. Honor to parents brings inheritance. It brings long life and prosperity. Rousas Rushdoony points out that “throughout history the basic welfare agency has been the family.”  Government policies that weaken the family lead to poverty and cultural decline. (Frame, Doctrine of the Christian Life, 595)


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