Disrespect for fathers?
Matthew 23:9—”How can Jesus tell people to call no man their father on earth? Should a father get no respect?”
Understanding the context of this passage is essential for its correct interpretation. Jesus is teaching against the excesses of the Jewish Pharisees and scribes, a group of people very similar in many ways to the clerical class of alems and ulema within Islam. Here Jesus is discussing:
With regard to the surrounding context of this verse, we must understand Jesus’ use of the term ‘father’ strictly as a religious title applied like ‘Rabbi’ or ‘instructor’ to clerics—Jesus was condemning a tendency to regard a cleric as a ‘father’ of infallible truth. The term ‘father’ applied to a cleric within religious structures can exaggerate the actual authority of the cleric, just as ‘rabbi’ and ‘instructor’ can. Jesus was condemning both clerics who claimed these exalted titles and laypeople who called them by these titles. We are bound to this interpretation for the following reasons:
3. Jesus repeatedly emphasized the importance of honoring father and mother, the least of which is shown by calling them father and mother. He never condemned earlier prophets who called their parents ‘father’ or ‘mother’
4. Jesus’ followers throughout history have not interpreted this verse as a ban on calling one’s biological father “father.”