Why Are the Ten Commandments So Important?
In this blog series I’ve been addressing some of what I have observed to be hot button topics regarding Christianity. The Ten Commandments certainly come up in the media from time to time and even those people who have little or no knowledge of Christian doctrine or the Bible at least have a basic familiarity of the Ten Commandments.
This Sunday I’m preaching a sermon largely inspired by the first commandment: “You shall have no other god before me. You will not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You will not bow down to them or worship them.” (Exodus 20:3-5)
It is assumed that this commandment was given first because of it’s importance, but certainly all ten of the commandments were important. These ten commandments were given to the ancient Hebrews out of a spirit of love and a parental desire to nourish and guide the ancient Hebrews much like a parent cares for their children.
I find these commandments to be much easier to understand by envisioning someone I love and respect sitting down with me and giving me these commandments with their arm around me. I implicitly know and understand that this loved one can be trusted and believed. That’s what these commandments were and really what they still are for Christians and Jews alike.
That first commandment was given at a time when the worship of other gods meant sacrificing of human lives in a ritual fashion. It was this kind of barbaric behavior that I believe these Ten Commandments were and are intended to direct human kind away from. To show humanity that we can worship God without giving up our “humanity” in the process.
I know that it can be argued that Christian practices have been and continue to be used in barbaric ways, and I cannot disagree with that assertion. Despite how cliché this sounds, I would suggest that we do not need to throw the baby out with the bath water. Ideally the worship of God while living by the principles of the Ten Commandments would lead towards humanity treating one another with respect and respecting all of the Earth’s inhabitants, human and non-human alike.
That is not the reality, but that does not mean the commandments are faulty, rather that we have not lived by them. We have not been inspired by them or the concepts which they create. Concepts centered around loving our neighbor, our friends, our family members, and even our enemies. That is why those Ten Commandments are so important.