This column is the first of several connected ones, as I tackle the Ten Commandments and apply them to our current culture. Many readers over a certain age may recall (but not necessarily embrace) these teachings; others, younger ones will likely have no idea what I’m talking about.
At this point, I may be more motivated to show the latter group that these seemingly antiquated biblical edicts are actually relevant in today’s culture. There is no urge on my part to attempt to put anyone under the Law of God, nor is this a step towards establishing a “theocracy” (rough etymology: theo = God; cracy = rule)!
I will do my best to not preach, or even sound like I’m preaching. That’s a challenge, because I do find the Bible immensely relevant in today’s world. And because this novel idea of applying the principles of the Ten Commandments to today’s society is worth considering. It saddens me that our culture has turned its back on the Bible, and despises those of us who value its teachings.
Not only that, I believe we have suffered as a result of our rejection of biblical truth. In particular, I believe that murders, adulteries, stealing, lying, and envy (five of these Ten Commandments) would decrease, if we followed them.
My basic premise is as follows: I see these Commandments as having a profound relevance to today’s culture; if practised, they would have an equally-profound affect on the families, economy, jails, and well-being of our nation. There is absolutely no question about it, in my opinion.
I will tackle them one at a time, allowing maybe a week or two per commandment. That depends on hows much comes to mind as I write.
The Ten Commandments are immersed in a historical, cultural context. They were recorded on stone (twice) and practised (or rejected). I could give you names and dates, but that is not my focus today. You can google that yourself, or ask your resident theologian.
I am not writing to debate whether they should be applied today, or whether the New Testament fulfills their teaching, or whether keeping them is a means of salvation, or whether Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Law, or whether certain religious groups are right or wrong to maintain them for today. Not for a second.
(That paragraph alone to be the basis of a book.)
I have no problem dealing with each or all of the above. It’s just not the purpose of this column and not the goal of this series. I just want to show the positive outcome on our culture if we all (writer included) didn’t use f-bombs, didn’t swipe things that didn’t belong to us, kept our hands off other people’s wives (or husbands), didn’t long for our neighbour’s boat, and so on.
I’m not sure if you had a chance to read from the Bible as I asked you to last week. If you did, you’ll see that the first commandment deals with the supremacy of God. This will be possibly the hardest Commandment to express (my part) and the hardest one to accept (your part).
Each of the other nine Commandments flow from this one. The moral, ethical, fiscal, and spiritual ramifications develop from the simple premise that there is one God. Even the Bible itself starts with the four words, “in the beginning God…,” no apology, no explanation, no rationale.
Some will struggle with the whole concept of a Divine Deity (vs. a god or Power or Being or Force, or something or Someone inside or outside of themselves). Or you can simply write the God thing off, and call yourself an “atheist” (another rough etymology: a =no; theos =God). Along the same lines, you may call yourself an “agnostic” (further rough etymology: a = no; gnosi= know) because you don’t know for sure.
Fair enough. There are a lot of angles here, but the one that resonates in my heart, based on strong empirical evidence, is that there is a God Who is behind and above everything. And if you’re open-minded and reasonable, you’ll hang in there till the end. Just don’t dismiss me out of hand yet.
As a culture there is a reason why we need to stop murdering, adulterating, stealing, lying, and envying. The advantages are overwhelming, but it starts with a clear-cut understanding of Who God is.
I will continue to flesh this out next week.