306. In the spiritual sense, "to honor father and mother" means to reverence and love God and the church. In this sense, God who is the father of all, is meant by "father" and the church by "mother." In the heavens little children and the angels know no other father and no other mother, since they are there born anew of the Lord through the church. Therefore the Lord says:
Call no man your father on the earth; for one is your Father, who is in the heavens (Matt. 23:9).
This was said with reference to children and angels in heaven, and not of children and men on earth. The Lord teaches the same thing in the common prayer of the Christian churches, "Our Father who art in the heavens, hallowed be Thy name." In the spiritual sense, "mother" means the church, because as a mother on earth nourishes her children with natural food; so does the church nourish her children with spiritual food, and this is why the church is frequently called "mother" in the Word, as in Hosea:
Plead with your mother; she is not my wife, and I am not her husband (2:2, 6).
Where is the bill of your mother's divorcement, whom I have put away? (50:1; Ezek. 16:46; 19:10).
And in the Gospels:
Jesus stretched forth His hand towards Ills disciples, and said, My mother and My brethren are these who hear the Word of God and do it (Matt. 12:48-50; Mark 3:33-36; Luke 8:21; John 19:25-27).