The Ten Commandments

Monday, October 06, 2003



I have been remiss on commenting about a topic that is important to about 77 percent of Americans. In August, a federal court ordered that a granite monument to the Ten Commandments needed to be removed from state property. See Ten Commandments Monument Moved, reported by CNN on Aug 28, 2003

My own feeling is that I am comfortable with the separation of Church and state, and willing to follow the federal court on this one. However, I think that a good argument could be made that the Ten Commandments specifically do not violate the freedom of religion principles in our Constitution.

Before commenting further, since this is not a state run sight, let me just go ahead and post the Ten commandments right here:

1) I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me. You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or worship them. For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting punishment for their ancestors' wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation; but bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation, on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments.

2) You shall not take the name of the LORD, your God, in vain. For the LORD will not leave unpunished him who takes his name in vain.

3) Remember to keep holy the sabbath day. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD, your God. No work may be done then either by you, or your son or daughter, or your male or female slave, or your beast, or by the alien who lives with you. In six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the LORD has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.

4) Honor your father and your mother, that you may have a long life in the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you.

5) You shall not kill.

6) You shall not commit adultery.

7) You shall not steal.

8) You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

9) You shall not covet your neighbor's house, nor his male or female slave, nor his ox or ass, nor anything else that belongs to him.

10) You shall not covet your neighbor's wife.

Some people hate being told they cannot do something, and I think when we are confronted with negative commadments in such an instance, we should try to undertsand the positive value that a negative command seeks to protect. The Ten Commandments are extremely humanistic principles. Translated into more positive language that focuses on what we can do, rather than what we cannot do, the Ten Commandments could be reworded this way:

1) Love the Lord God whom you image more than any "thing" in the universe.
2) Honor God's image in others by avoiding the name of God to lie, curse, or justify a unjust bias.
3) Give yourself adequate time for rest, community, and spirituality.
4) Respect your elders.
5) Respect human life from conception to natural death.
6) Honor your committments and your sexuality.
7) Be honest.
8) Respect the property of others.
9) Rejoice in the good fortune of others.
10) Rejoice when your neigbor finds a good spouse.

I believe that an argument can be made that a monument to the Ten Commandments does not violate freedom of religion. The Constitution does not Guarantee freedom from religion. Rather, it guarantees freedom of religion by prohibiting the state establishment of a single religion. The Ten Commandments belong to religiously to the Jews and almost all Christian denominations or Bible worshipping religions. Furthermore, the Muslims even acknowledge the Ten Commandments as basically good principles, and the Ten Commandments may have historical roots in other ancient Mid-East or African religions. The Ten Commandments are not a single denominational point of view, but a common heritage of the whole human race.

An argument can be made that even though there is mention of God, the Ten Commandments are not really "religious rules" at all. rather, they are practical guidelines for life that have become so popular and stood the test of time for so long that people consider them divinely inspired!

Atheists can argue all they want that the commandments cannot be divinely inspired since they believe there is no God to divinely inspire anything. However, that does not take away from the fact that most of the human race seems to find these rules profoundly meaningful.

Whichever way we feel about the Court's decision, I believe the ten Commandments are a bedrock for forming strong moral character, and the person who tries to live by these principles will fare happier in this life and the next.

Peace and blessings!

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posted by Jcecil3 2:49 PM

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