My mom, sisters, and I watched the movie together, all four of us huddled on the same couch. The Birds was Dad’s idea. He thought it would be funny to see us get scared, and he wasn’t disappointed.

Despite the nondescript title, we discovered that The Birds is not a National Geographic special on the treetop warbler. With 1960s-era special effects, this Hitchcock thriller remains a perfectly chilling tale of maniacal birds that conspire to attack human beings. They swarm schoolchildren, strike when least expected, and peck people to death with their bills. I won’t give away the ending, but suffice it to say, it’s not happily ever after.

To this day, the sight of birds perched on a telephone wire still makes me wince and walk a little faster. I can’t quite convince myself that they aren’t secretly plotting my demise. Probably a mild case of ornithophobia—fear of birds (I had to look it up; so don’t be too impressed). But as scary as The Birds is, there are verses in Scripture I find even more frightening because they aren’t from a two-hour spectacle on my TV screen. These verses are deadly serious about God’s perspective on how I relate to my mom.

Most of us are familiar with the fifth of the Ten Commandments and the promise it contains: "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you" (Ex. 20:12). But keep reading past Exodus, and you’ll find that there are some pretty severe consequences for the sons or daughters who dishonor their parents. A brief sampling is enough to make me shiver:

Leviticus 20:9: For anyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother; his blood is upon him.

Proverbs 20:20: If one curses [or dishonors; it is the same word] his father or his mother, his lamp will be put out in utter darkness.

Proverbs 30:17: The eye that mocks a father and scorns to obey a mother will be picked out by the ravens of the valley and eaten by the vultures.

Not looking good for the disrespectful daughter, is it? But God is not finished yet. The Bible also says that when we fail to honor our moms, it’s as serious as dishonoring God Himself. Charles Bridges, author of a commentary on the book of Proverbs, explained, "The cursing of a parent was visited with the same punishment as the blaspheming of God; so near does the one sin approach to the other. The rebel against his parent is ready to ‘stretch out his hand against God’ himself. (Job 15:25)"1 These verses frighten me because I have been guilty of dishonoring my mom.

Dishonor comes in many different forms: from open defiance to sly disrespectful comments. For me, it was at some point in my teen years that I began to develop a haughty attitude toward Mom. I grew to think quite highly of my own abilities and opinions and not so highly of hers. I found fault with her clothing, her way of speaking, and the godly priorities of her life. My sin was small in my own eyes, but not in God’s. For even one of these "small," proud thoughts I deserve the full punishment of a dishonoring daughter.

I’m not what you would call subtle; so it wasn’t long before Mom perceived my disrespect (days, weeks maybe—I’m so glad it wasn’t much longer). She confronted my puffed-up thoughts and pointed out the arrogance and pride from which they sprang. She proved her mother’s love for me in spite of my insulting attitude toward her. And God used her kind response to produce sorrow and repentance in my heart.

To set the record straight: Ask anyone who knows my mom, and that person will confirm that I was mistaken in my thinking. Mom is clearly superior to me in every way—beauty, intelligence, gifting, and most importantly, godly character. (She wants me to take this sentence out, but I’m not listening.) But you know, sin distorts and mangles our view so that we no longer see things rightly. I certainly didn’t.