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What's Up With The Ten Commandments?
Multiple Choice Suggestions
The journalist Ted Koppel once famously said: "In its purest form, truth is not a polite tap on the shoulder. Truth is a howling reproach. What Moses brought down from Mount Sinai were not ten suggestions."
A sign outside a local business dovetails with that quote: “The Ten Commandments are not multiple choice.” We flinch in significant denial, but in the present relativistic climate that is their de facto status: Just ten multiple choice suggestions.
Were the edicts given to Moses on Mount Sinai absolutes or optional lifestyle choices? To our detriment, we have come to disregard the extraordinary essence of God’s top ten list; to our peril, a cultural mindset disparages all things related to the boundaries or expectations of a Supreme Being.
We have developed a cavalier spirituality that systematically deconstructs God’s Word; we reconstruct it to include passages that warm or comfort, while eliminating those that heighten personal responsibility and virtue.
In the postmodern mix where truth is presented as non-existent or entirely negotiable, we attempt to rationalize the Ten Commandments away as relics from antiquity. Our reasoning plays itself out as enlightened wisdom, but is driven by the conspicuously false premise that people are basically good.
Historical and headline news evidence shreds that assumption into confetti but we persist in putting the idea forward. We cannot face-down the darkness that resides within, so we intellectualize goodness into humanity’s nature. The framework to support that façade is a dismissal of holy law that reveals our moral bankruptcy.
Is there a connection between our systematic deconstruction of God's Word and the breakdown of morality in the 21st century?
Truth & Consequences
The end result of relegating God’s imperatives to multiple choice suggestions is ethical ambiguity and societal chaos.
Why do children routinely have children? Why is infanticide enshrined at the altar of convenience and choice? Why is sexual promiscuity no longer shameful, but rather is an accepted and expected cultural norm?
Why has greed and avarice become badges of honor? Why do marriages get discarded like last week’s pizza boxes? Why does suspicion and mistrust have free reign in our hearts?
Why is bold-faced lying and cheating dismissed or winked at in the public square? Why are guns or bombs regularly carried into schools and workplaces to kill people?
The answer to those questions and a thousand more just like them is quite simple: Choices have consequences. Our society has transformed truth into multiple choice suggestions and as a result is reaping the whirlwind. Having casually denigrated God’s prescription for avoiding the tragedies of destructive living, we ought not to feign surprise or be shocked by the resulting catastrophic problems.
A Top Ten List That Matters
In precise human language God clearly laid out the design for integrity and civic order. Contrary to naysayers, the precepts originally inscribed on stone tablets are not shrouded in primitive superstitions or ignorance. Their supernatural brilliance transcends the ages to be the foundational bedrock of civilization.
In a mere handful of words, the Creator of the universe set forth ten principles - that if implemented and put into practice - produce community peace and harmony: “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything. You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Honor your father and your mother. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. You shall not covet.”
No Ifs...No Ands...No Buts
It was active love that motivated God to give us his rules; they are an expression of an eternal compassion. The One who fashioned the stars desires that we experience true success, measured by our joyful obedience.
God’s definition of success has not changed since it was explained to Joshua: “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
What’s up with the Ten Commandments is this: They are the howling reproach of truth; they are the underpinning of God’s written revelation of himself. When our hearts incorporate them we get a glimpse of his character as he molds within us a perspective and worldview that has him at the center.
Jesus of Nazareth modeled what it meant to practically apply not only the letter but also the intent of God’s requirements. He spelled it out plainly: “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”
That towering standard serves to keep our latent arrogance on a short leash: Love and obedience are inseparable; no ifs, no ands, no buts and no suggestions or multiple choices.
- Wanted Man
Wanted Man a.k.a. Ken R. Abell, seeks to be a blessing to others. He's a rake, a rambler, and a teller of tales who understands that there is strength in a story well told and well lived. To learn more, inquire or schedule him, visit this web site.
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