The 10 Commandments – Rules That Hold Us Together

The 10 Commandment hold us together. They lead us out of our self-centeredness into loving relationships and caring community.


In Losing Moses on the Freeway: The 10 Commandment in America, Chris Hedges writes:

The commandments are a list of religious edicts, according to passages in Exodus and Deuteronomy, given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai. The first four are designed to guide the believer toward a proper relationship with God. The remaining six deal with our relations with others.

The commandments are one of the earliest attempts to lay down rules and guidelines to sustain community. The commandments include the most severe violations and moral dilemmas in human life, although these violations are often beyond the scope of the law. They were for the ancients, and are for us, the rules that, when honored, hold us together and when dishonored lead to alienation, discord and violence.

The commandments choose us. We are rarely able to choose them. We do not, however hard we work to insulate ourselves, ultimately control our fate. We cannot save ourselves from betrayal, theft, envy, greed, deception and murder, nor always from the impulses that propel us to commit these acts. These violations, often committed without warning, can leave deep lifeling wounds. Most of us wrestle profoundly with at least one of these violations.

The commandments guide us toward relationships built on trust rather than fear. Only through trust can there be love. Those who ignore the commandments diminish the possibility of love, the single force that keeps us connected, whole and saved from our physical and psychological torment. A life where the commandments are routinely dishonored becomes a life of solitude, anger and remorse.

The commandments do not protect us from evil. They protect us from committing evil. The commandments are designed to check our darker impulses, warning us that pandering to impulses can have terrible consequences. “If you would enter life,” the Gospel reads, “keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17).

The commandments hold community together. It is community that gives our lives, even in pain and grief, a healing solidarity. It is fealty to community that frees us from the dictates of our idols, idols that promise us fulfillment through the destructive impulses of constant self-gratification. The commandments call us to reject and defy powerful forces that can rule our lives and to live instead for others, even if this costs us our status and prestige and wealth. The commandments show us how to avoid being enslaved, how to save us from ourselves. They lead us to love, the essence of life.

Jesus was asked which was the greatest commandment and his response was: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-39)

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