A World Without the Ten Commandments

Much of the world has never experienced the blessing of the Ten Commandments.

That’s why India and many smaller nations are poor (according to Indian thinker Vishal Mangalwadi in The Book That Made Your World), and graft and bribery are widespread. When you don’t have a moral foundation that creates freedom, you are ripe for tyranny and its subsequent fruits of poverty, corruption, and a lack of human rights.

Western nations have enjoyed the blessings of the Ten Commandments and faith in Jesus Christ in varying degrees. But today, that foundation is crumbling.

What does a world look like without the Ten Commandments? If our current political leaders have their way, we are about to find out.

A World Without the Ten Commandments

For nearly three thousand years the Ten Commandments provided portions of the globe with a foundation for right and wrong. Through the Reformation in Northern Europe beginning in the 16th century, whole nations began to base their civil polity on the guiding principles of the Decalogue.

It was Samuel Rutherford, a Scottish Presbyterian minister, who published Lex, Rex in 1644, who rightly argued that kings are subject to God’s laws (the Ten Commandments) rather than the other way around–the standard for most tyrants since the beginning of time.

No nation built its freedom more squarely on the Ten Commandments than the USA. As James Madison declared:

We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government; upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.

Thus, the Ten Commandments are prominently displayed in the United States Supreme Court. Our laws were built upon their guiding wisdom.

But much of that is unraveling before our eyes.

In my lifetime, I remember an American culture whose laws generally followed the teaching of the Ten Commandments. We once believed “In God We Trust.” Swearing was dirty or looked down up. Most stores were closed on Sundays. Families stayed intact and parents were respected (Father Knows Best). Murder was rare and wrong. Adultery, frowned upon. 

I remember being taught in kindergarten a cute jingle against lying: “Hon-es-ty. No matter what the consequences be. Is the very best pol-i-cy.”

We were also learned that envy and coveting destroy human relationships.

But now our country and many Western nations are rapidly turning away from the wisdom of the commandments. People’s rejection of God and the Bible has led to corrupt institutions and ungodly leaders who are pushing us off a moral cliff.

We are rapidly leaving the protection of God’s loving commands for social chaos.

In both Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 we read about the giving of the Ten Commandments to the Hebrew nation. They were designed to bless the people, provide a balance of form and freedom in human life, teach the truth about reality (God, law, sin, mercy, and justice), and make them a light to the nations.

Here’s a look at each command and how we are destroying them in America. Then I will suggest how to make a revival of the Ten Commandments a priority in our lives.

Commandment One – No God but God.

Americans are turning away from God in record numbers, and during the pandemic, a great “pruning” of God’s Church has taken place. As God-consciousness recedes in our communities,  tyranny grows on every hand through government mandates and gross manifestations of evil in many areas of life.

Commandment Two – Don’t make idols or any kind

Idols are anything that takes God’s place and cheapens our humanity. Most Americans now live for self-pleasure created by affluence (Francis Schaeffer’s phrase) and essentially “worship” money, sex, and entertainment. Going from big (God) to small (self) is destroying the nation’s soul. 

Commandment Three – Don’t misuse (take in vain) God’s Name

Cussing and swearing have always been around, but the Internet now spews it everywhere. Social media is today’s equivalent of the Roman sewers. It stinks–and God’s glorious Name has become a common four-letter word–not just used by drunken sailors.

Commandment Four – Rest on the Sabbath Day

Whether you prefer Saturdays or Sundays, most Americans do not worship on either day or are committed to a day of meditative rest (for their good). It’s 24-7 business or pleasure and go to the beach instead of church. We rarely “rest in God,” but turn to alcohol and drugs as substitutes.

Commandment Five – Honor your parents

The breakdown of the family is one of the most egregious realities of American life. Parents are not esteemed in the home and even some family members are estranged. The nuclear family rarely eats together let alone worships and studies the Bible. Divorce is as common as a one-dollar bill (and as cheap).

Commandment Six – Do not murder

2020 saw a thirty percent rise in murders–highest since statistics have been kept. Previous high was 12.8% in 1968. That doesn’t count the largest holocaust in world history–abortion–which has taken over seventy million lives in the U.S. and one-to-two billion globally. 

Commandment Seven – Do not commit adultery (or any other sexual sin).

Sex before marriage used to be rare, adultery uncommon, and brides getting married in white dresses (symbolizing chastity) once meant something. No more. We stand awash in sexual immorality and pornography as a society and even glorify it on television and in the movies.

Commandment Eight – Do not steal 

The government practices theft through unjust taxation and give-away entitlement programs. Looters and vandals destroy businesses for sport and corrupt prosecutors don’t even charge them. 

Commandment Nine – Do not lie.

For the first time in America, you can’t trust the news, the FBI, the CDC, or what many people in authority tell us. “Fake News” is the order of the day because many outlets have an agenda–and it isn’t finding the truth. We tolerate fibbing politicians because we citizens elect them.

Commandment Ten – Don’t covet other people’s possessions 

Marxism/Socialism was invented to get a large portion of the population envious of the “rich” and then take everybody’s money away in the name of “equity.” When you see a dress called “Tax the Rich” you know you’re looking at a demonic message.

I once saw a cartoon showing a person with a large hammer hitting the Ten Commandments (as if to destroy them). In the next frame, the Ten Commandments hadn’t budged, but the little man with the mallet had broken himself into thousands of pieces.

You don’t break God’s principles. If you turn away from them, they end up breaking you. A world without the Ten Commandments is a hellish place–and we are rapidly entering it in America. 

But there’s always hope in God.

Start with yourself. Do you know the Ten Commandments? Can you paraphrase them in order? That’s your assignment for today. Each of us needs a renewal of the love of God’s wise commands in our own heart and life.

Then live them and teach them to those around you.

In Matthew 5:19, 20, Jesus gives us his perspective on God’s wonderful laws for living:

Trivialize even the smallest item in God’s Law and you will only have trivialized yourself. But take it seriously, show the way for others, and you will find honor in the kingdom (The Message).

Let’s pray for a revival of the Ten Commandments (and faith) in every area of life.

What the Justice Generation Needs to Learn About Race and Slavery

I’m on a break between quarters after grading  numerous papers.

One of the final ones was written by an African American pastor who is a great guy. But he made a fatal mistake often found among preachers obtaining degrees. He preached a passionate sermon in his paper (what he already knew) instead of telling me what he learned from a classic book on world missions.

He spent half the paper speaking about racism. 

I thanked him for his burden, but had to knock his grade for not following directions. His paper provoked a question: 

What does the “justice generation” need to learn about race and slavery?

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Reparations Promotes Envy Not Responsibility

Evanston, Illinois became the first city in America  to pass a “reparations” law to compensate for slavery. $25,000 checks will go out soon to black residents only–and many of them are unhappy and want more money. 

Paying people today for yesterday’s sins is governmental and cultural insanity.

In Washington, D.C., a bill is making its way through the House of Representatives demanding that all non-black Americans pay reparations for the sins of slavery committed hundreds of years ago. That would divide America further and bankrupt the nation.

Reparations is a bad idea. It promotes envy (a sin) not responsibility (a virtue).

Reparations Promotes Envy Not Responsibility

I saw an article recently on the foolishness of reparations that made me feel like I was reading my own writing.

Here is what Star Parker had to say.

My Ancestors Were Slaves. Here’s What I Think About Reparations

“The House Judiciary Committee just held hearings on H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to look into ways in which African Americans could be compensated, including possible payments of trillions of dollars to individuals.”

“The commission would examine the role of government in supporting the institution of slavery, ‘discrimination in the public and private sectors against freed African slaves and their descendants,’ and ‘lingering negative effects of the institution of slavery … on living African Americans and on society.’”

“My ancestors were slaves. And my life as a young woman was a mess.”

“Was my life a mess because my ancestors were slaves? I don’t think so.”

“My life was a mess because I lived a wanton, irresponsible existence, defined by promiscuity, petty crimes, and scamming the nation’s well-meaning but totally confused welfare system to the greatest extent of my ability.”

“Did I need reparations to turn things around for me? Certainly not. I needed a wake-up call, which, to my great gratitude, I got from a few church-going black Christians who told me the way I was living was unacceptable.”

“I went to church, took back responsibility for my life, and turned my circumstances around.”

“The problem with the idea of reparations is it redirects attention away from exactly where attention is needed: on individuals’ personal responsibility for their own unique lives.”

“And it redirects attention in such a way to encourage individuals to believe that some abstract, collective entity from the past is the cause of all their individual problems in the present.”

“Compensation for damages is a basic legal principle.”

“It’s about personal responsibility. Individual A sues individual B for damages caused. Exactly what the damages were and exactly how B injured A must be shown in a court of law.”

“Today, only a small fraction of our population has ancestors who were around before 1865 when slavery was legal. The idea of collective guilt, with no specific individual identified as causing the damage and no specific individual showing how he or she was damaged, doesn’t fly.”

“If there is any legitimate claim of collective guilt, it is the guilt of original sin, which we learn in the book of Genesis. Every man and woman is imperfect and responsible for fixing themselves—and, by doing so, helping to fix the world.”

“There is no word more frequently used in political discussions than ‘freedom.’ But rarely discussed is what gives meaning to the word ‘freedom,’ and that is understanding that individuals have free choice—the power and responsibility to choose how to live.”

“Only when we understand that there is good and evil, that there is sin, does free choice have meaning. It means individuals have the power and responsibility to choose how to live—that their individual choices matter.”

“Driving the push for reparations are policies on race that obliterate this key idea that every individual, regardless of circumstance and history, is unique and has free choice. The political idea of freedom becomes irrelevant because free choice becomes irrelevant.”

“So-called critical race theory says everything is about culture. Because, per their claim, the USA is about what they define as white culture, the cultural script needs to be rewritten to make things fair for those who are not white. Put politicians in charge of making things fair.”

“No, I am sorry; I always thought the problem with racism is it denies the uniqueness, dignity, and personal responsibility of each individual.”

“If the ideal we seek is a free country with free citizens, then commissions such as that proposed in H.R. 40, which pretend to be about justice but are really about a left-wing agenda to put government in charge of our lives, are not the way to go.”

Exactly right.

I am not African American like Parker, but here’s what I shared a year ago.

Everybody’s Ancestors Were Slaves

Some people believe that every non-black in American needs to pay up for slavery (reparations).

Could any public policy be more absurd or expensive than that? (Unfortunately, that answer is yes but I digress.)

Have we so lost our common sense in the West that we forget that ALL our ancestors were once slaves to other nations?

  • During the Roman Empire, half of its citizens were slaves–for nearly one thousand years. Should we send a bill to Italy?
  • China and Mongolia made each other slaves for centuries–and finally built the Great Wall of China over the conflict (in which 2 million slaves died during its construction). Should Ulaanbaatar write Beijing a check?
  • European nations took turns being the slaves for centuries. The Vikings made slaves of the Celts. The Visigoths enslaved the Slavs. Come to think of it, my German ancestors were slaves of the Goths for hundreds of years. Should I appeal to Angela Merkel for a reparations check?
  • In the 20th century, the USSR enslaved numerous nations and the Imperial Japanese raped and oppressed the Chinese for a decade. Time to make that right with money?

As ugly as slavery is, during the seven thousand years of human history, more people have served as slaves of another culture than enjoyed the blessings of freedom. In some centuries they were the conquerors and in others the conquered.

Who should be paid? How far back should we go? What if you are half-slave? Or one-tenth?

You can’t pay for past sins.

God’s Word says it best:

“‘Doesn’t the child pay for the parent’s sins?’ No! For if the child does what is just and right and keeps my decrees, that child will surely live. The person who sins is the one who will die. The child will not be punished for the parent’s sins, and the parent will not be punished for the child’s sins.”

“Righteous people will be rewarded for their own righteous behavior, and wicked people will be punished for their own wickedness. But if wicked people turn away from all their sins and begin to obey my decrees and do what is just and right, they will surely live and not die” (Ezekiel 18:19-21).

That’s what Star Parker learned by experience. She chose responsible character which empowers a life instead of envy and greed which poison and destroy it. 

In a book I ghost-wrote eighteen months ago about the life of Dr. Corinthia Boone, she recalls that her grandparents, who were children of freed slaves (just one generation removed), never demanded “a hand-out, just a hand up.”

Let’s follow their example–through the love of Jesus Christ.

Everyone’s ancestors were slaves. Let’s leave the past behind–and offer a helping hand to everybody who needs one–by rejecting envy and promoting responsibility in every precious human life.