Reminding us of the commandment that we honor our fathers and mothers, Paul added the phrase, “in the Lord.” To honor our parents in the Lord means that we accept their authority as coming from the Lord.
In the second chapter of Genesis when God looked at his first human he immediately said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” With that statement he was telling us that he created us as social animals. We can only survive by working in union with one another. From that it flows that when differences of opinions arise, as they inevitably will, someone must have the right to speak decisively. So, we can say that God established roles of authority at the moment of his creation of our race.
We might not like what our parents or our bishops, or our bosses on the job decide on. We might not even like them, but we must go along with their directives because their authority comes from God. As Paul put it in Chapter Thirteen of his Letter to the Romans, “There is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been established by God. Therefore, whoever resists authority opposes what God has appointed.”
The wording of the commandment requires us to honor our parents. Specifically, to honor means to put the kindest interpretation on their behavior the way we naturally give the kindest judgment on our own actions.
As for when we are excused from obeying, it is safe to follow the old rule that “We must obey in all things but sin.”