The middle school youth will consider how they experience the love of God in their families, and how following the example of Christ can enhance their family relationships.
God has revealed the moral law to humans over a period of many years, although primarily in a place and time when the structure of society and the family was patriarchal. As a result, the traditional association of God with a loving, authoritative father – responsible for providing for, protecting and leading his family – was natural. In the 21st century, however, we find ourselves living in a society that long has challenged traditional views on the composition and structure of relationships within families. Many children grow up without the experience of a caring, protective, authoritative parent, whether male or female. As a result, many middle school youth may have trouble relating to God as a loving father.
Still, the fourth commandment, “Honor your father and your mother,” is a fundamental piece of the moral law that shapes our human lives and existence. As stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
The fourth commandment opens the second table of the Decalogue. It shows us the order of charity. God has willed that, after him, we should honor our parents to whom we owe life and who have handed on to us the knowledge of God. We are obliged to honor and respect all those whom God, for our good, has vested with his authority. (2197)
The fourth commandment is addressed expressly to children in their relationship to their father and mother, because this relationship is the most universal. It likewise concerns the ties of kinship between members of the extended family. It requires honor, affection, and gratitude toward elders and ancestors. Finally, it extends to the duties of pupils to teachers, employees to employers, subordinates to leaders, citizens to their country, and to those who administer or govern it. This commandment includes and presupposes the duties of parents, instructors, teachers, leaders, magistrates, those who govern, all who exercise authority over others or over a community of persons. (2199)
Although the language of the fourth commandment is specific to children and their parents, we should understand it more broadly to apply to our relationships with all persons of authority and within our families, regardless of their structure, composition and relationship dynamics.