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Living the Ten Commandments

Outdated, boring, archaic, and useless, — is that how your youngsters might describe the Ten Commandments? Join in the discussion of why these basic commands for better living have lasted for centuries.

By Caryl W. Krueger

Categories: Guidance

Outdated, boring, archaic, and useless, — is that how your youngsters might describe the Ten Commandments? Considering the place of these simple rules in legal justice today and in their world-encompassing effect for centuries past, there must be some reason that these basic commands for better living have lasted. 

If some concepts are difficult to understand, suggest that the family rewrite them — maybe one each week. Find ways in which they apply to today's living in relation to parents, kids, community, and the world.

The following commands are from the King James Version of the Bible with ideas from other translations and from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson. As you discuss each command, no doubt you will find added meanings beyond those suggested below.

  1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
    The concept of one God, one supreme being, is the basis for many religions. God's place as Creator, Heavenly Parent, Divine Love, makes Him/Her aware of every element of creation - a God tuned-in to you and me, our needs, our prayers, our life as His eternal/forever child.

  2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image....Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them:
    The graven images of today try (but fail) to compete with God's goodness. These images could be the desire for wealth, the amassing of human theories in hope of intellectual success, the reliance on alcohol and drugs to improve character and provide "fun" - thus neglecting God's infinite supply of goodness for each of us.

  3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain;
    This goes beyond profanity or the casual misuse of God's name which attempts to belittle God's power. Curses, belief in magic or fate, and silly banter are irreverent and undermine one's respect for God's omnipotence. Belittling God belittles one's self.

  4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
    Every day needs to be God-based, not just days when there are church activities. One's life should be based on daily growth in spirituality, expressed in truthfulness, joy, adventure, sharing, and outreach to all humankind.

  5. Honour thy father and thy mother:
    Honour includes respect, obedience, and love to those who care for us through the years, but also to the Heavenly Parent who is always guarding and guiding us. We show our honor by each word we speak and activity we pursue.

  6. Thou shalt not kill.
    This command encompasses every killing action from drunk driving and scuttling the aims of others, to thinking killing thoughts and accepting violence as "natural." Yes, it is hard to "love one another" - no matter what - but that's what is required for peace.

    Also consider ways to protect, not kill, the environment.

  7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
    Breaking marriage vows is just one part of this command. Mentally dwelling on illicit sex and pornography is another. Enjoying magazines, books, and movies that make gender jokes attractive denies the perfection of each of us - male and female. In God's kingdom, there are no second-class citizens.

  8. Thou shalt not steal.
    While we might never consider burglary or robbery, we often condone stealing in other ways: cheating on a test, shop-lifting small items, stealing the time of others, "borrowing" ideas and plagiarizing. These try to tell us that there is a shortage of God's gifts to us, so we need to steal from others. But our time is best spent in finding and accepting God's unlimited abundance.

  9. Thou shalt not bear false witness.....
    We might not lie when under oath in court, but it can be easy to lie on other occasions when we exaggerate the truth, take part in gossip, or lie by omitting all the facts. "What goes around, comes around" will undermine our own integrity until we learn to value the truth.

  10. Thou shalt not covet.....
    It's a waste of time to wish for something that another person has. It is the false assumption that we lack our own creative ability. Instead, consider our own assets and how to best use them.

    We will find that our needs are satisfied in unique ways. There is no shortage of blessings that come to those who thank God for the good already received.

    These commands show us how we love God and our fellow man - and in return how greatly loved and fulfilled we are.

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