The fifth commandment is stated thus:
Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee (Exodus 20:12).
Before the advent of the welfare state, all aspects of caring for aged parents fell to their children. There is something about caring for someone—washing them, changing their sheets, helping them dress, taking care of their bedpans, feeding them, that is healthy for a care-giver.
Paying for their care, buying someone else’s time to accomplish it, can be done, and doubtless there are situations in which this is the only serious option. But these are likely very, very few. The benefit we derive from serving others is then mostly lost. The same connection and affection is not there. We loose something when we assign caring duties—and others use their time to accomplish it.
Actually, nowhere I can think of in Scripture suggests that we buy the services of others to care for our loved ones. We should do it directly.
But with the introduction of social security, medical, and similar arrangements, many attitudes changed. Realizing that there is always “the state” to fall back upon, people became less responsible. Since the shift to the democratic republican form of government, the rate of having children has fallen significantly in the Western world. You no longer need children to care for you later in old age! The state will do it for you. Or your children will drop you into a nice nursing home somewhere where you can watch television and sit in your pee.
Honoring our fathers and mothers makes us more human. And keeps them more human. Honoring begets honoring. Your children see you taking care of your parents. What an impression this must make! The promise is that as we honor our parents, our days will be long upon the land that God gives to us. Our humanity gives our parents a higher quality of life in their golden years, and in turn our children see and are prepared to do likewise for us when our turn at the wrinkles comes.
In the Bible, the aged person is consistently honored and respected. In the modern world, his main utility is as a consumer of dental adhesive products. The welfare state is dehumanizing and decivilizing in its effect. The anarchist Christian needs to rise above the standard inhumanity. He should honor his parents in many ways, but, in particular, by as much as is feasible, caring for them directly, with his own hands.
Another point of interest in this commandment is that God gives land to the Christian. Private ownership of Property is built in to the Ten Commandments. We will ponder this further when we discuss the eighth commandment. For now, we limit ourselves to the observation that God made earth for man and intended that he should be able to own property.
God is the original Maker. He created the earth ex nihilo. Thus, He homesteaded it from nothingness; it belongs to Him. As His private property, He can give it to whomever He will. He links our care for our parents with His gift of private property to us in the form of land. For the Christian anarchist, these provide several interesting lines of thought, strikingly in support of a libertarian position although written more than three millennia ago.