The Personal Website of Mark W. Dawson
Containing His Articles, Observations, Thoughts, Meanderings,
and some would say Wisdom (and some would say not).
The Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments are a solid basis for living a moral and ethical life. However, there is much misinterpretation and misunderstanding of these commandments. Misinterpretations often due to the numerous translation faults and the different meanings of the words throughout history. To help clear up these misinterpretations, I have rewritten them in modern English. Though the numberings differ, the Ten Commandments are:
- You shall have no other gods but me.
- You shall remember the sabbath day and keep it holy.
- You shall not make any graven images of anyone or anything.
- You shall not utilize the name of the Lord thy God to justify immoral acts.
- You shall respect your father and your mother.
- You shall not unjustly take the life of another person.
- You shall not have sexual relations with the spouse of another person.
- You shall not steal, loot, nor destroy the property of another person.
- You shall not lie about nor give false testimony against any person.
- You shall not covet anything of any other person.
The first four commandments are your duty to God, while the fifth through tenth commandments is your duty to yourself and to others. The first four commandments are for sins against God, a sin that God will not often forgive. The fifth through tenth commandments is for sins against yourself and others, a sin that God can forgive if you repent and follow all the commandments henceforth. As to Gods judgments of your sins, you should remember the words of the Bible:
“The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”
- Psalm 19:9 (NKJV)
When you meet your maker, he will know all that you have said and done, and what was in your heart, and judge you accordingly and forgive you as appropriate. As to God's ability to forgive your sins, I would direct you to my Article, “God’s Forgiveness” for my thoughts on this subject.
As for the misunderstanding of The Ten Commandments, this often occurs by trying to read too much into what the commandments mean. The Ten Commandments are rather straightforward when written in modern English, and when not encumbered with convoluted interpretations and excessive elucidations. You should remember that God created these commandments for the ancient Jewish common people to be able to understand and keep. Consequently, modern Americans should be able to understand and keep them. The individual questions of morality and ethics, and how to answer these questions utilizing The Ten Commandments may not be straightforward, but the actual commandment is straightforward.
The best modern explanation of The Ten Commandments is a series of short YouTube videos by Dennis Prager. However, I would like to add my pithy comments on these rewritten commandments:
There is but one God, and he is the only God to be worshipped. Not only to be worshipped in words but to be worshipped in deeds. Do not idolize any other person or thing other than God, for such idolization is often a form of worship.
This is one of the most difficult commandments to keep in today’s 24/7 commercial world. However, you can keep this commandment in your heart if, on the sabbath day, you take the time to pause and reflect on God, God’s wisdom and teachings, the importance of God in your life, and the importance of your family, friends, and community.
God has an ethereal form and not a corporeal form. As such, he cannot be represented in a corporeal form but must be in your ethereal thoughts. It is easier to worship a corporeal image than an ethereal mental image, but corporeal worship often devolves from the true meaning of God. To put God in a corporeal form is to debase the true being of God. It also displaces God into a realm that is inappropriate.
God never makes you do anything. You have the freedom and liberty to choose your own words and deeds. God only provides wisdom and teaching to guide your words and deeds. Never justify your immoral words and deeds as God’s will, as it is your will that committed these immoral words and deeds. To shift the responsibility of your immoral words and deeds to God is a grievous offense against the name of God. Indeed, it is an offense that God will not forgive.
Always be polite and respectful to your parents. Listen carefully to what they have to say and consider their words. However, this does not mean that you must obey them. Each person has the God-given right to choose their own words and deeds, and a parent has no right to impose their will on anybody. You are responsible for your own words and deeds, and you have the freedom and liberty to choose your own words and deeds. But always remember that “You are free to choose, but you are not free from the consequence of your choice.” - Ezra Taft Benson.
The key to this commandment is “unjustly”. It is just to take another’s life in the protection of your own life, or your loved one’s lives. It is just to kill another in the cause of a just war or to execute a heinous person if it is done in a just manner. But the concept of ‘Justice’ must be vigorously defined and implemented. It is better to cede justice to society to assure true justice rather than take justice into your own hands. For if you take justice into your own hands, you will most often commit an unjust act.
Adultery has had many and different meanings throughout history. Many of the Old Testament Kings had multiple wives and many of the stories of the Old Testament stories revolved around adultery. I believe that God’s purpose for this commandment was to preserve the sanctity of marriage and to protect the family as the fundamental basis of society. There is no better way to dissolve the marital bonds than for a spouse to have sexual relations with another person. This commandment includes both the man and the woman, and either is guilty if they violate this commandment. This commandment is also violated if a single person engages in sexual relations with a married person, or a married person engages in sexual relations with a single person. As sexual relations between a married and unmarried person are a mutual act, an act that is shared between the persons, each share in the guilt of the violation of this commandment. Therefore, both the single person and the married person are equally guilty of violating this commandment. If a marriage is having problems, the solution is to resolve the problems or to dissolve the marriage. It is never a solution to the problems of a marriage to engage in sexual relations with a person other than their spouse.
To steal, loot, or destroy the property of another is to unjustly deprive them of the fruits of their labor, a violation of their natural right to own property. It is also to impoverish them and their family and make them susceptible to the vicissitudes of life. This commandment not only includes the personal property of another but also includes the business property of another, as both the personal and business property of another is the same property. And pilfering from a business is stealing from a business.
To lie about a person is to besmirch the good name and reputation of a person. To give false testimony about a person endangers the Freedoms and Liberties of the person. Both are words that are spoken or written to "Demonize, Denigrate, Disparage (The Three D's)" a person. To Demonize, Denigrate, or Disparage a person not only harms the person, but it harms you. Your harm is in the debasement of your character, a debasement that will spread to all other things that you say or do. If you are caught in the lie, your good name and reputation will be besmirched, while giving false testimony could endanger your Freedoms and Liberties if you are caught. You should also remember that a lie spreads much faster than the truth and that a lie often remains even when the truth is revealed. You should also distinguish the difference between “Lies and Beliefs”, for false beliefs that are spoken or written are a form of a lie.
Unlike the other commandments which focus on outward actions, this commandment focuses on thought. Coveting happens when someone sees the prosperity, achievements, or talents of another, and then resents it, or wants to take it, or wants to punish the successful person. It is fine to desire to own similar things that others own if you try to gain similar things through your own legitimate actions. However, it is immoral to take the actual things of another. If someone gains something through moral, ethical, and legal means, then that something is theirs and is not subject to your desires. Whether this taking is done by yourself, with the aid of another, or the aid of a group of people working in unison, it is the theft of another’s legitimately obtained gains. When you covet something, it is poisonous to your mind, and often leads to emotional suffering and/or immoral actions. This is why your thoughts of coveting are prohibited.
The best advice on how to follow the fourth through tenth commandments is The Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”. For if you keep this in mind in your dealings with others, it would be nearly impossible to violate the fifth through tenth commandments.
Always remember to love God and people and to use things, rather than to love things and to use God and people. You should also remember that “Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and angels know of us.” - Thomas Paine and that “Our character is what we do when we think no one is looking.” - H. Jackson Brown, Jr... Not only are The Ten Commandments a solid basis for living a moral and ethical life, but an excellent basis for building our character.