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The Trouble with the Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments have spelled t-r-o-u-b-l-e from the time God gave them to Moses to the present debate over where to display them. The Ten Commandments continue to be a source of inspiration and irritation, a cause of both comfort and controversy.

THERE  IS  A  NEED  FOR  LAW  AND  ORDER.  Without law there is anarchy; without order there is chaos. Life, especially the “good life,” cannot be without laws, rules, and Commandments to insure orderliness in our world. Laws are formulated to give structure and stability to our society.

GOOD PARENTS PROVIDE A CLIMATE OF SECURITY FOR THEIR CHILDREN.  Parents, because they love their children, set rules for them to live by. Good parents, because they care about their children, set limits to protect them from getting hurt.

The Creator, like a Divine Parent, sets down rules for the good of all his children. He brings order and stability to life to protect his children from the storms of chaos. She sets limits in life to protect her children from their worst selves. The Ten Commandments were intended for the benefit of God’s people. These Rules-for-Living did not apply to anyone else, did not apply to those who chose not to be  the people-of-God.

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS ARE RELATIONAL,  NOT RIGID RULES. Too often, we interpret the Ten Commandments as “Do this!” or “Don’t do that” or you will be punished. Perhaps this is our childish way of looking at any Rule or Regulation, man-made or divine, that keeps us from doing what we want to do.

A better interpretation of the Ten Commandments might be: the Divine Parent saying to the children, “If you love Me, this is how you will want to live!  Understand that I have made these Rules because I love you and want to protect you from the forces of chaos and darkness.”


We resent them, and ignore them, because they stand in the way of our own selfish desires. But because we break the Rules, we wind up getting hurt, our days are chaotic, and our lives are all messed up.

We try to apply the Ten Commandments to everyone, when they were meant only for those persons who choose to be a part of God’s Family. Some Christians would make the Bible the Law Book for governing our nation and our communities. The current debate, however, is not Church vs. State; it is God’s Family vs. the Outsiders. God never forces His will on the unwilling; perhaps God’s people would do well to do the same.

We think that posting a copy of the Ten Commandments in a public place or in our front yard will change lives for the better and will benefit everyone. How much better would it be if we posted the Ten Commandments in our heart, if we loved God enough to live by the Rules.  Then, the people around us would see by our example the benefits of following the Commandments and obeying the Divine Laws. More is to be gained by loving obedience than by rigid enforcement.

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