Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics 10 on Filial Piety

After I became a Christian, I tried to witness to my dad. I was trying to show him that Christianity is not a western religion. Rather, the Bible teaching is very similar to Chinese teaching. I cited the 4th(4th for the Catholic, 5th for the Protestants) commandment of the famous Ten Commandment, which is Exo 20:12 Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. In the Chinese Classics teaching of the Ru Jia, Confucius School, this is known as Xiao 孝 translated as Filial Piety.

In my study of the original 'Bible on Filial Piety', see Understanding the Bible of Filial Piety (Xiao Jing) in One Minute, I discovered that Xiao is not just one-way of children honoring their parents but also of parents loving their children. It extends beyond the relationship between parent and children, but to friends and to the kings and its subjects. Filial Piety is best, in the original Chinese Classic teaching, to translated as "Love and Respect". It teaches that the Elder should love the younger and at the same time, the younger should respect the elder. The teaching of Filial Piety has been distorted over time just as the Bible has been. Xiao, according to Confucius, is the basis of all virtue. It begins at home with the Elders loving and the Younger respecting.

This duality matches well with Paul's teaching in Eph 6:1-4:

 1Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; 3That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
 4And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Much has been said about Children obeying and honoring their parents. But in Confucius teaching, honoring involves taking good care of oneself, be faithful in work, excel and do well in life, leaving a legacy that brings glory to their parents. It also involves not showing angry faces at our parents or any act that may embarrass them. It involves taking good them of them when alive and giving them a good funeral when they die. It does not, as have been frequently misunderstood, that we must obey all the commands of our parents. It involves ensuring that our parents live the righteous life and if need be advises them. We must as children ensure our parent live rightly and well.

There is much less teaching on "Fathers provoke not your children". "Provoke" and "Nurture" come in the same verse and should be related together. To nurture our children well, we must not provoke them with our so called 'nurturing'. Let me quote a paragraph from my post Walk in the New Life Part 3 Roles.
The right way to bring up Children is given in 6:4, not provoke them to wrath (to anger and then rebellion later), but in nurturing and admonition of the Lord. 
There are two points:
  • A DO NOT - provoke the children.
  • A MUST DO - nurture them in the biblical values.
How do parents provoke their children?

Here are a few examples:
  • Breaking promises made.
  • Being a hypocrite. Not walking their talk. They say one thing and do another.
  • Being a tyrant - must do exactly as I say or else. Not showing love and concern. Not explaining the reasons for demanding such behavior.
  • Not showing care, giving respect to the children opinions and wishes. Not really listening to the children.
  • Not showing love for one another. Quarrel and fight in front of children.
  • ... can you add some more into the list?
[Update 27 June 2012]

There is similar verse in Col 3:21 

(ESV)  Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

The KJV version added anger which is not in the original manuscript. In this case, the provocation results in discouragement. How it is done? A modern Chinese Translation put it better as:

(JMSJ-T)  你們做父親的,不要嘮叨不停地挑剔、責罵兒女,惹他們生氣,免得他們心灰氣餒。

You fathers, do not keep nagging, finding faults and scolding your children, making them upset, so that they may not be discouraged.

So we can add the following to the list of DO NOT:
  • nagging
  • picking faults to criticize by being a perfectionist
  • over demanding 
  • comparing one against another
 Lim Liat copyrighted Apr 2011/12

For more, see Chinese Classics & The Bible

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