Thanks for responding with comments and emails to the question I posted. The reason I ask is my church is planning a series on this topic (honoring our parents) and I'm helping with research.
I've discovered this is a big issue and source of stress for a lot of people. We want to be faithful to God's command - it's #5 of the Big 10 - but often find it hard to do. And we're not really sure where, if anywhere, to draw the lines.
I suspect part of the problem lies in our notions of the word "honor." The word in the original language simply means "weight" or "weighty." That doesn't paint a real clear picture of how to do this verb, does it?
Some of my friends have said they feel it is always right to obey our parent's wishes ... no matter our age, no matter the circumstance, and no matter what their wishes are. They see it cut and dry. We honor them. We consult them, listen to them, and follow their advice. I suspect they have great parents.
Others look at their parents and all the grievous mistakes they've made and figure honor is not due here. Or they look at the unhealthy, unethical, unmoral things their parents advocate or do and think, "Surely I'm not suppose to follow their will." These friends reason that, particularly as adults, our primary allegiance is to God while our parents' wishes rank below that. These gals put up some boundaries or limit their interaction with their parents just to maintain their own safety and sanity, or that of their children. (Naturally, their parents may feel disrespected by this.)
I'm thinking the crux of the issue is: according to whose perception are we honoring them? Do we measure how well we honor our parents on whether or not we're making them happy? On whether or not we are agreeing with them? On whether or not they'd say we're respecting or disrespecting them?
In other words, who are we getting our definition of honor from? I'm not sure that our ideas of what it means to honor our parents, God's ideas of what it means to honor them, and their ideas of what it means for us to honor them, always line up.
Still other friends told me about their difficult, unbelieving parents and the struggles they faced over the years trying to maintain a healthy degree of relationship with them and honor them as best they could. And to my friends' surprise, their parents were eventually won over, came to Christ, and changed their ways!
So this is a "weighty" topic indeed. Personally, my own mother has passed away, though I had some issues with her before then. And I have a great relationship today with my father, for which I am grateful. Thanks for talking with me as I sort through this tough topic. I'm looking at various verses and praying for understanding.
PS. It's going to be 89 degrees here today so I'm thinking of stealing away to the beach this morning!