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In the Gates

For Failing to Stand

For Failing to Stand--Standing is a way of showing deference, as if to give up one’s seat to the arriving person.

The fifth commandment

5.5 Honor others

We are to show respect to the elderly, the poor, and all other people, because they are the image-bearers of God.

Leviticus 19.32

You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the LORD.”

Luke 14.7-11; Romans 12.10-17; 1 Peter 2.17

The reference here may be specifically to a ruler or judge or elder in a local community, but it was probably meant to include all elderly. Standing is a way of showing deference, as if to give up one’s seat to the arriving person. The story, told by Bede, of how the Celtic priests used this little test to determine whether or not they could trust the Roman missionary, Augustine, demonstrates how seriously the people of that day regarded the Law of God. When Augustine failed to stand as the Celtic elders entered his presence, it indicated he either did not know the Law or did not regard it as he should. Either way, he was not to be trusted, and the Celtic priests did not.

This series of In the Gates we present a detailed explanation of the Law of God, beginning with the Ten Commandments, and working through the statutes and rules that accompany each commandment. For a practical guide to the role of God’s Law in the practice of ethics, get The Ground for Christian Ethics by going to and click on our Book Store.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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