Regardless of your faith – or lack thereof – I would be you could name at least half of the 10 Commandments. Like it or not, they have been an integral part of our society since its creation. They are posted in schools, court houses, churches, hang on the walls of homes, and are probably a part of your memory to some extent.
It seems odd to me that something that is at its center is just a good basis of rules for any culture has the power to create such turmoil. Atheist organizations have made the removal of monuments that portray the 10 Commandments a significant part of their work. They state that it’s a division of church and state issue which is a much larger topic than I can tackle to a huge degree in this forum, but let’s look at that for just a moment,.
These Commandments are found in both the Jewish and Christian religious texts. When they were given to Moses, they were a tool to try to calm the constant fighting that was going on amongst the people so while they are clearly found in religious text, they were provided as guidelines in how a community should function in order to work together well. They are essentially a road map for us all to help us avoid the potholes and pitfalls of life.
The first 3 commandments call believers of both Jewish and Christian faith to focus on God. Now while this may seem antagonistic to a non-believer, what if the purpose here is to simply remind us to choose something outside of ourselves to focus on? Even if your “god” is the air around you, choosing to focus on something else – something bigger – seems, at least to me, to provide more meaning to life. Each of us has one thing that is the focus of most of our energy and time. Figuring out what that is 1 thing is is the key to finding out what will make you the most content in his world. Certainly God would like us all to realize that by focusing on Him, we will find the most fulfillment and joy, but regardless of where you end up on that journey, that is the first step to finding your true happiness for your time here on earth. And once you find that one thing, as commandment 2 indicates, don’t let other things distract you from the one thing that is most important. That’s what idols do – they distract us from the most important thing and we end up unhappy and frustrated.
Ok. Onto taking the Lord’s name if vain.
I know. This seems silly particularly when the f-bomb is dropped in nearly every other sentence in some movies and television show. What does this have to do with anything? It comes down to showing respect for the thing that you most love. For example, I adore dogs. When someone says to me “it’s just a dog!” I find that hurtful. To me, a dog (my dog) is a member of my family and I love it. There is nothing “just” about it. This is what happens when you truly love and respect something. So the bottom line here is be respectful about that thing you have decided is the most important thing in the world to you. Seems logical, doesn’t it?
I thought so, too.
Now about that Sabbath day. What in the world does it mean to keep it holy? Well, that really depends upon who you ask and what interpretation you wish to follow, but for me, to keep the Sabbath holy means something truly simple. Take the day away from your otherwise busy schedule, don’t burden your day with tasks and work, and instead take the day to focus on and enjoy that one thing you already determined was, for you, the meaning of life. So if you have decided trees are the meaning of your life, your Sabbath day would consist of things like watering your trees, maybe hugging them, singing to them and caring for them. This commandment wasn’t meant to be a burden, but rather a respite – a time that each of us could enjoy the thing of utmost importance to us. Doesn’t sound like a bad thing to me!
The remainder of the commandments really all fall under the Golden Rule category: treat others the way you would like to be treated.
We are called to honor our parents. This doesn’t mean that they were perfect or that we are to bow to their every whim. What it does mean is that we are to acknowledge that they provided life to us and have raised us, fed us, cared for us, and we have grown as individuals because of this. Now I know – there are those of you who are arguing with me because your parents did none of those things. They were abusive, spiteful and mean. You never had food, your clothes were tattered and dirty and you had to fight for every scrap you ever got.
First, let me say that if this is true, I am truly sorry about that and I wish I could correct it for you. We were all meant to be loved and cared for and I truly hope you have found that for yourself somewhere.
However, hanging onto that bitterness and anger about the past does nothing but hurt you. If your parents were truly awful, calling them names, ignoring them or otherwise disrespecting them doesn’t do anything to fix the problems from the past. Learning how to let go of those heavy burdens of pain and anguish we each carry from past struggles frees us to live our lives better, be happier and – guess what? Even have more time and energy to focus on that one thing that we have already decided is the most important thing! Funny how that happens. Ok – so to honor our father and mother simply means to be respectful – even if that means at a distance – and in that way, you are treating them the way you would like to be treated.
The rest of the commandments are really very much the same. Treat everyone around you the way you want to be treated. It’s not a stretch to say you don’t want to be murdered, so don’t murder (duh!). You wouldn’t want your spouse to cheat, so don’t you do it either. You wouldn’t want your treasures stolen, don’t steal. You wouldn’t like someone to lie about you – so don’t lie about them. And the thing about coveting? Ok. Sometimes it can feel pretty cool to have someone covet your home or your car because they are so amazing, but what this is really focusing on is don’t try to be someone you aren’t. Instead, remember that one thing that is the most important thing to you and focus on that. As simplistic as this all sounds, when you are able to find that thing that is the meaning of life for you – God or not – using these Commandments as your guide for how to live will truly make your life more fulfilling.