Are The Ten Commandments Old Hat?

I grew up in the Catholic Church. Although I am no longer Catholic I believe many of the things I was taught. As I read the news this morning the Ten Commandments came to mind. They were rules to live by in earlier days. Most Christian churches believed in the Ten Commandments. I knew right from wrong because of my upbringing in the church and those Ten Commandments. They were drilled in to me and I still use them to guide me today.

But those teachings seem to be muddied these days. Knowing right from wrong today is confusing. We fudge on those moral teachings because they are not as clear cut. Somewhere along the line we don’t hear too much about those important words. I’m not sure our young people today would be able to recite the Ten Commandments. Are they as important to Christians today as the Pledge of Allegiance we are fighting about in the news?

The Ten Commandments from the Christian Churches are pretty clear cut. In case you have never heard of the Ten Commandments here are a few that to me seem easy across any language and religion.

Thou Shalt Not Steal.

Thou Shalt Not Take the Name of the Lord Thy God in Vain

Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness Against They Neighbor

Thou Shalt Not Kill

It was clear when I was a kid if you stole something and your parents found out about it, they would march you back to the store to make amends. There were were consequences back home and then there was the guilt. A little healthy guilt isn’t all bad. It might keep you from making the mistake again. We knew what stealing was and that it was wrong.

Today the lines of that commandment seems blurred even in my mind. Is it wrong to take something from our place of employment? Maybe we pick up a few pieces of paper, or pens, or office supplies? Don’t we work hard and deserve the little perk? What about purposely entering the wrong information when we apply for a job? A clerk doesn’t charge us enough for an item—do we point out the mistake or tell ourselves the mistake was theirs so it lets us off the hook? That’s a perk right, and not stealing? What little or big ways do we steal and chalk it up to being accepted? But do we feel the same way if we are the ones on the losing end of a transaction?

What about taking the Lord’s name in vain? Everyone does it these days. It seems to be accepted in mainstream USA. It wasn’t accepted in my parents home or the school I attended. It used to bother me when someone used God’s name in vain in front of me, but I am so used to it now that it becomes a blurb in the conversation and on television.

Recently at a local drinking and eating establishment a group of young men were using God’s name loudly and repeatedly, along with other language. A couple sitting at a table near them decided to move and leave because of it. They were offended. We took their table and during our meal listened to the loud, crude language. What had happened to me that I blew it off? What happened that it no longer offended me so that I wanted to say something?

I know a few people who use the Lord’s name and profanity profusely in their life outside of the church, but when they enter that church their entire demeanor changes and the language is pure as the driven snow. Here is what I want to say to them, “Come to church, be yourself. Decide which of those people is you and be who you are all the time.” Why do others feel they have to change when entering a church. If you are not ashamed of the language you use in public, then use it in church too. After all, we know the chameleon you are and accept it outside of the church walls. God does too. Don’t confuse the kids who know you in both worlds.

Let’s get on to the Do Not Bear False Witness. Your neighbor these days is everyone you come in contact with. Read the Social Media and people are bashing and bullying their neighbor on post after post after post. And we join in.

We all break rules. We all break the Ten Commandments if we believe in them. For many of us we know we want to do better. We know we are not living the lives we want to model for others. We make mistakes but we try and rectify them and go forward.

What’s the point of this long diatribe? Not to make me any better than you. But the thought crossed my mind today as we listen to the left and right, and the interpretations of morals from sides using the Bible, perhaps all we need to do is to follow the Ten Commandments. We could adopt a generic Ten Commandments for those that are going to argue the Ten Commandments are for Christians only.

Generic Rules To Live By

I will not put money and power before people and compassion.

I will not make my house, my cars, my wealth or my electronics more important than living a life of integrity.

I shall watch my language so as to not degenerate or offend another person.

I will take time to rest away from the noise of the world and the media so I can hear my own voice in the clutter of others opinions.

I will treat my elders with respect. I will see that they live their lives to the end with dignity.

I will not hurt another human being physically or with words.

I shall be a loyal mate and friend.

I will not steal.

I will not talk about my neighbor unkindly or bully another person because of our differences of opinion, race or religion.

I will not be jealous of my neighbor’s good fortune.

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we tried at least one of them?

Celebrating Our Freedom

14687804116_c553cd4dc4_zThis is from my column in the Albert Lea Tribune on July 4, 2016. I believe we are so fortunate to live where we live and have the freedoms we do.

Rapper 50 Cent was arrested for swearing in public during a performance in St. Kitts in the Caribbean. In the United States we have the freedom to use whatever language we choose in public.

In the United States it is not illegal to burn the flag. In Argentina, Article 222 of the Penal Code criminalizes public desecration of the national flag, coat of arms, national anthem or any provincial symbol imposing one to four years of imprisonment.

We have the right to bear arms. In the People’s Republic of China gun ownership is heavily regulated and private citizens are not allowed to possess guns and penalties for arms trafficking include death.

It is the Fourth of July, Independence Day. I wonder how many of our young people know the reason for our holiday. Independence Day is a federal holiday celebrating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, by the Continental Congress. It was declared on this day in 1776 that the 13 American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation. We became the United States of America, separating ourselves from the British empire.

The world has changed many times over since the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Living in the United States of America has changed over the years; we have progressed and some might say that some forms of expression have regressed.

In my early years, people didn’t burn the flag — they respected the flag. The Pledge of Allegiance was said every morning to remind us of the freedoms we experienced and to show respect for our country.

Now swearing is rampant in everyday society. It is hard to walk down the street without swearing being heard in one form or another. Yet in other countries it is a crime and punishable by prison.

Social media, the news and the subject of gun control dominate conversations arguing the rights of our citizens with people voicing their opinions loudly, not caring who is disrespected.

My point is this — Independence Day, when our forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence, they broke free so that we have the freedom to swear in public, whether others like it or not. We have the freedom to desecrate our flag, whether others feel it is disrespectful to our country or not. We have the right to bear arms no matter how high the murder rate becomes. We have the right to bash our leaders and each other because we live in a free country. Life may have been much different if the Declaration of Independence were not signed. We may not have the freedoms I just described.

We take our freedom for granted and because of it we abuse those freedoms that were supposed to be for the good of the people so that we could pursue a life of liberty and happiness.

As you are out celebrating the day, take a few moments to be thankful for the freedoms we have, and to appreciate those freedoms and our country. In all the loudness of confrontation we forget to appreciate that which our forefathers protected.

Celebrate the day. Shout for joy. Let the fireworks begin and celebrate our great country. If you get a moment take the time to sing the national anthem, recite the Pledge of Allegiance or read the Declaration of Independence to remind yourself what the day is all about – our freedoms.