I was first introduced to the ten commandments through CCD, the Catholic version of Sunday School. These ten standards were drilled into my mind as God’s expectations for human beings to follow. As a young boy, I didn’t understand love or know how these principles would shape my life. Yet, this portion of the Bible serves as the cornerstone for being civilized. Anyone who adheres to the final six commandments follows the golden rule, treating others as you want to be treated.
12 “Honor (respect, obey, care for) your father and your mother, so that your days may be prolonged in the land the Lord your God gives you.
13 “You shall not commit murder (unjustified, deliberate homicide).
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
15 “You shall not steal [secretly, openly, fraudulently, or through carelessness].
16 “You shall not testify falsely [that is, lie, withhold, or manipulate the truth] against your neighbor (any person), Exodus 20:12-16.
After attending seminary for two years, my understanding of the ten commandments grew. Jesus’ response to a first century religious leader below highlights two distinct sections. The first four commandments are focused on loving God. The final six commandments emphasize loving your neighbor. Within his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis refers to Cardinal and Theological virtues. Anyone can follow the final six commandments if you are determined to do so. However, loving God requires the Holy Spirit which is only available to those who enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, Romans 10:9-10.
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 And Jesus replied to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for others].’ 40 The whole Law and the [writings of the] Prophets depend on these two commandments,” Matthew 22:36-40.
As I listen to cable news, talk shows and people throughout the course of my day, there is a growing crisis. Either Americans don’t know the ten commandments, don’t care about these Old Testament commands or the searing of consciences has reached epidemic levels? There are various mantras, narratives and talking points that are spewed daily. If you change the channel or turn the page of a newspaper, these messages bombard human minds day after day. When a different opinion or point of view is offered, attacks are made in the form of lies. Maybe I am alone, but it appears that the United States is becoming a nation of false witnesses as both sides can’t be right Perhaps, the ten commandments is the only thing that may reverse this trend by convicting souls to love God and love others.
by Jay Mankus