Question: I wonder if I really have to honor my father and my mother. My father [sexually abused] my brother and myself when we were very young and through middle school. My mother knew about this (she even saw this happening). [She] neither said nor did anything to try to stop it. Do I really have to honor my parents if they did such things to my brother and me? And, where was God when all this was happening? Why didn't He keep it from happening? I've tried to forgive my parents for their sin, but it is extremely difficult.
Response: In Ephesians:6:1-3 we read, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth."
We are to "obey" our parents "in the Lord." Not everyone may have godly parents who are "in the Lord." This directly implies that we are not obligated to obey ungodly commands or submit to the evil they propose. The Lord's commandments have the precedence in our lives. Neither does it mean that we have any contact with them, particularly if they pose a danger.
"Honor," however, is something else. To "honor," in your circumstance, may simply mean not speaking evil of them and continuing to pray for their repentance and salvation. Further, the Scriptures tell us to forget "those things which are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are before" (Philippians 3:13). Even secular commentators note that it is not healthy to dwell upon the past. The Lord has given us lives that may be lived in accordance with His will and plans. We serve the Lord in hope, not in bondage to the past.
You ask "Where was God when all this was happening?" He was where He always is. We can either blame God for failing to act as a policeman in a world that has rejected Him, or recognize that the sin of man for a time holds sway upon the earth. That knowledge alone may not be comforting, but we need to remember that in the synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus proclaimed, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised" (Lk 4:18). To heal the brokenhearted means that there will be brokenhearted people. To bring deliverance means there must be captives. The recovery of the sight of the blind means that there must be blind people. And to set at liberty those that are bruised means there first must be those that have been bruised by the cruelty and injustice of the world.
To apprehend these promises, however, means to forsake the past, which cannot be changed, and look to the Lord who can bless and guide one's life ahead. The Scriptures are filled with examples of how the Lord will comfort those who come to Him. We also have available the testimonies of those who underwent horrendous experiences (Corrie Ten Boom, Richard Wurmbrand, and others), who testified of the healing and restoring power of the Lord.
The Apostle Paul wrote, "Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren" (2 Cor:11:25-26). We might very well ask "where was God during those times?" That wasn't the response of Paul, who wrote further, "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God" (2 Cor:1:3-4).
Paul spoke of being able to comfort others because of having experienced the comfort of God. May the Lord encourage us, as we have opportunity, to minister "by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God."