The concept and reality of honor is being twisted and attacked in our post-Christian western world. The deep dishonor of the Godhead; of humankind; of God-given authority in society, in the family and in the Church, really flows from the dishonor and rebellion of anti-Christian forces.
Wikipedia (English) establishes that “to the ancient world, the concept of honor was frequently linked to one’s tangible possessions (…) Plato was among the earliest to establish the personal moral element of honor, what he called “inward honor.” The distinctions accorded a man by the world—“outward honors”—were not of the same value as a virtuous person’s inner worth. The Romans as well as the Greeks placed great emphasis on the indispensable role of honor in an individual’s life. Only in the Bible, however, do we gain a true perspective on honor.”
One of the great sources of Christian thinking and theologizing, Tyndale Bible Dictionary, develops this further: “That people do not honor God as they should is a lamentable truth of Scripture. In all of history only Jesus Christ truly honored the Father by submitting himself totally to the divine will. (…) Christians are called upon to honor one another—that is, each is to consider his fellow believer more worthy of esteem than himself (…) Showing honor to others should affect one’s entire lifestyle. (…) Husbands are to give honor to their wives by showing loving regard for them.”
In the post-Christian western world, dishonor of humanity reaches its lowest point in the slaughtering of babies in momma´s womb! What a tragic disrespect of human life!
Even the dismantling of parenthood that we have seen in the atheist cultures of the failed marxist revolutions is a reflection of our revolt against God. In modern Europe, the same attitudes are being promoted by leading child psychologists, such as the Norwegian Magne Raundalen, who has introduced government-supported ideas such as leaving “the biological principle” in our fostering of children: The responsibility for children is taken away from the parents, and instead given to “society”! Whereas The Ten Commandments state: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you”!
However, there are also good developments in western societies relating to God-given honor, most notably in the attitude to money. In our days, people are entitled to decent wages. Women and men! There are even limits for “minimum wages”! A slogan such as “same pay for same work” is increasingly a reality in many western societies today.
In the church, however, we have a lot of catching-up to do in this regard. We need to take social justice issues seriously, like the apostles did in Jerusalem when the members quarelled about the uneven distribution of food among them (Acts 6).
The same goes for our concern for the leaders of the church. From the beginning of my pastoral ministry in 1983, I was treated poorly, getting little or no pay, even when I pastored big churches. However, recently this has changed. Even in the small, developing church that my wife & I pastor in Oslo now, the members are concerned that I get paid – well! (I get only a little, but that´s because we have many needs as the church develops.)
But many men and women of God give up in their service because of financial fatigue. We should not allow that to happen!
The Apostle Paul is very strict in this regard. In 1Timothy 5:17-22 he says clearly: Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages”.
Note that Paul connects the remuneration of elders, teachers and preachers with the concept of honor. He even states that their “worth”(=value) is double!
In 1Corinthians 12:28, the Apostle Paul states that the rank in the church is “first apostles, second prophets, third teachers” etc. There is rank and value in the Kingdom of God, and this value must be in more than words, but even in financial evaluation.
As European charismatic-pentecostal churches develop in our modern era, we should have a realistic concept of honor: Honoring God, the sanctity of life, the equality of human beings, God-given authority, and the members and leadership of the church. That will bring soundness and long life to all!