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OPINION


TEN COMMANDMENTS DAY

An Awareness day to be aware of what?
Keeping vs. Displaying All Ten C's

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April 23, Sun, 2006

Ref: THE TEN COMMANDMENTS DAY.COM - TENCS
       WRITTEN IN THE HEART
       Church State.org

John 14:15 - If you love me, display, restore, enforce  keep my commandments.

  1. A group of noted Evangelical leaders have set aside a ‘Ten Commandments Day’ slated for May 7, 2006 (Sunday) this year and to be celebrated as an ‘Awareness Day’ and also a ‘Pledge Day’ so to speak every year. For those willing, they may also pledge their ‘Obedience’ to the Ten Commandments by signing a document, I assume, something that amounts to a ‘Declaration of Obedience’. Is it really to the Ten Commandments Commission or is it to God? If it is to God, then why do I need a middle man and sign a third party pledge? I am reminded of the Old Testament times! Anyway, click here to read (PDF doc). The document also states that those who are willing may work toward the ‘restoring’ of the Ten Commandments in the United States to its rightful place (and all nations) by acts of love and reconciliation (and also non-violent legal action) while also acknowledging the diversity of expression across cultures and religions. While all the above intentions seem to be noble, I am now wondering what I as a Christian should be really aware of? What I as a Christian should take stand for in this age of unending calamities, natural and man-made?
     
  1. As I set forth my views, I hope to tread gently and not hurt anyone’s feelings or intentions. You are free to respond to this article with your disagreements or any other comments if any and the issues raised will be addressed as best I can with biblical support, and if you so wish, your responses will also be posted on this site.
     
  1. Also, in setting forth my thoughts, I would like to use the Bible as the guide. The following verses come to mind.. ‘Search the Scriptures, for in them is eternal life…Study to show thyself approved unto God….Compare scripture with scripture (I would even say compare Scripture with history, science and anything else to gain a comprehensive and current understanding of how it applies to today) and then God says ‘Come let us reason together' …so I hope to be reasonable in my approach.
     
  1. Before I take a stand on anything, it is best to know the Whys, Whats and Hows of any given issue. One thing to note is, we all can agree on the importance of the Ten Commandments, but can we agree on how it is applied and its rightful place in society? Where do we even begin? Unity at what cost and on whose terms?
     
  1. The following explanation has been given as to why we need to focus or set aside a day to honor or be aware of the Ten Commandments:
     
  1. “Recent court rulings against the Ten Commandments, along with a host of disturbing trends we witness daily throughout our culture, clearly demonstrates that our nation is moving away from that tradition.”
     
  1. My response: For this movement to have any credibility, the Evangelicals should first wholeheartedly rescind their current theological position that the Ten Commandments were nailed to the cross!
     
  2. And what are the recent court rulings that have been made against ‘The Ten Commandments'? Are the courts and the current legal system established to well protect and enforce the ‘Ten Commandments’? or its mere displays? If so, I wonder and I would like to know where in the U.S. Constitution was there any mention of the Ten Commandments or the protection of its mere display on government property? The government to my knowledge has not banned any religious symbols from places of worship or other non governmental places, so what is the real issue here? It is also said that “a host of disturbing trends we witness daily in our culture clearly demonstrate that our nation is moving away from that tradition.” So what are the ‘disturbing’ trends that we are witnessing that demonstrate that ‘our’ nation is moving away from that tradition? History shows and the Bible states clearly that this Planet is continuously deteriorating morally and is headed for a ‘complete destruction’ before a complete restoration by God Himself. So what is new? Further, was there anytime in the history of the United States since its inception, that the U.S. was morally more upright than now and that somehow this nation has moved away from that ‘pristine’ moral condition?

    Many believe that the U.S. started out as a ‘Christian’ nation and that somehow we need to get back to the ‘Judeo-Christian’ tradition. If anyone takes time to read the ‘Declaration of Independence’(
    read it here), the declaration clearly states that this nation is to become independent to among other things for its peoples to freely pursue ‘life, liberty and happiness’. Of course it mentions the Creator as creating all men equal and endowed with some inalienable rights and invokes God’s protection in the preserving of this republic and its sovereign rights. The declaration is not a ‘Declaration of a Christian State’ where only the Christians are its rightful and pre-eminent citizens. It is a gross distortion to say that the U.S. was established as a Christian Nation when the Declaration of Independence itself does not explicitly or implicitly refer to such a ‘Christian Formation’. This country was established as a ‘Federal Republic’ where all are free to pursue religion or no religion and to be free from the tyranny of the ‘mother’ country i.e., England at that time. The individual States consent to be governed collectively as a Federation, therefore the term ‘Federal Republic’ and not a ‘Christian Republic’. Moreover, the U.S. does not have a 'Christian' Constituition and a 'Christian' Bill of Rights. One other question to ask is if the U.S. is a Christian nation by proclamation or practice or both and if so, who is suppose to run this country as a 'Christian' nation?

    Biblical history also clearly shows that the experiment of a Religious State as a ‘chosen nation’ failed in the end simply because the ‘chosen did not choose’ to obey God and therefore no longer entitled to a ‘Chosen Nation’ status. So is God going to repeat that same experiment again? God has always been in the business of ultimately saving individuals who choose to choose Him on a voluntary basis. ‘Work out your own salvation’ the Bible says and not engaged in the working out the salvation of one nation or the other, as nations are not going to be saved in the end but only its people who choose to be saved. When Jesus said ‘My kingdom is not of this world’ and that the Gospel shall be preached to all the world before the END comes, He did not leave room for any illusion that somehow through love and reconciliation, and through various human efforts the nations of the world will unite ‘Under God’, even though attempts will be made in the end times to do such a thing. After all, the Bible clearly states that in the end times, nation shall rise against nation and people against people and consequently an attempt made to unite all to obey God by legislation! How soon we forget the lessons of history and the Bible itself predicts?
     
  1. “These actions have threatened the very fabric and foundation of our culture and faith. The Ten Commandments and all other references to God, which have served as the moral foundation and anchor of our great country, are systematically being removed from public places. Public displays of the Ten Commandments and other symbols of our faith have been a powerful visual testimony to the fact that the United States of America is "one nation under God." Their removal from public places shows that those with a secular humanist agenda are intent on destroying the moral heritage of our nation.”
     
  1. My response: So what are the actions of the secular humanists that are threatening the ‘foundation’ of our culture and faith? What is our culture and who defines that culture? Isn’t this country a multi-cultural and pluralistic nation? Whose faith is being threatened by what actions? Faith is being referred to as though ALL had the same faith or the same interpretation of Faith at one time in the past! What is the battle to be fought here? The Ten Commandments and references to God are being systematically removed from ‘display’ in the Public places is being claimed. So is removing a display of the Ten Commandments from a public place tantamount to removing God from individual belief and practice of any religion? Does the Bible say anywhere that Christians are to monumentalize and memorialize and thus ornamentalize the Ten Commandments in any public place, if so, why not ‘display’ the Ten Commandments everywhere including all the Churches and Government places starting with the White House?

    Are we not suppose to worry or talk more about how to KEEP ALL the TEN COMMANDMENTS on an individual basis, rather than mobilize on how to restore the Ten Commandments to the nations or to societies i.e. on other unwilling participants? What’s the biblical justification here for this kind of an approach? Seems like a lot of references are made to restoring the ‘tradition’. Who are we to ‘restore’ OUR traditions on those who may not hold those same traditions? Isn’t the calling of God to only ‘Preach’ and 'Teach' the Gospel’ to those who may freely and willingly listen? And not expect some kind of government assistance or enforcement or even some tacit acknowledgement of some Christian tradition as the preferred religion over others? Does your practice of religion require some government validation, when there is already an abundance of freedom to practice and propagate any or no religion at all? You might say that you do not want the government to forbid you to practice or express your religion in the public square as a matter of history and tradition. Again to counter this argument, I will again simply point out to the ‘Declaration of Independence’ and also the Constitution and the Bill of Rights of the U.S. and say that the Christian religion or any other religion has not been mentioned to be given preferred status in the public square where the government is forced to choose one religion or religious expression above another! Why should the government be involved when it is not explicitly forbidding or expressing any individual from following any religion? And only asking its citizens that it be not involved in religious expression disputes in public spaces to keep public order? Further, can the citizenry even agree on how much religion a government can or should practice? Or shouldn’t religion and moral issues be left for each individual to sort out? How can we in good conscience somehow claim that others follow the dictates of our own conscience in the name of Christian this and Christian that? Further, it is mentioned that the Ten Commandments have served as the moral guide to this nation! Last time I checked, the laws of the U.S. were derived from many legal traditions including the English and Roman law and also some from the Bible. Thinking that somehow Christian laws have a pre-eminent position in the formation of government policy seems to be preposterous and neither biblical nor practical.

    Please explain how holding or using the Courts to uphold Christian tradition or Christian laws will lead to public obedience of an otherwise secular pluralistic society where there is already freedom to practice any religion, if moral restoration is your agenda? Further, has this Country been established as ‘One Nation under God’?
    (note that the phrase 'one nation under God' was only adopted in the pledge of allegiance by an act of Congress in 1954 as a way to distinguish from the atheist Soviet Union after a campaign by the 'Roman Catholic Knights of Columbus', this phrase was not in the original Pledge composed by Francis Bellamy, socialist and Baptist Minister, in 1892) or just one nation established in the pursuit of equality and justice no matter belief, in the pursuit of happiness? Also note, that the 'Declaration of Independence' does not state 'in the pursuit of God or Christianity as this nation was formed. Also imagine this: One nation under God watching 'Desperate Housewives'?? I wonder what God must be thinking? So how are we going stop others form watching what is not supposed to watched as a 'Christian Nation under God? And how come there are many other gods permitted to be worshipped by non Christians? So what about the citizens who either don’t believe in God or believe in a different god than Jews or Christians? Which god are they under? Who has the final say on how God is implemented?  How much of the oneness can we agree upon anyway besides the Geography that binds this country? It is more accurate to say 'One Nation in Geography', with some very porous borders I might add. Aren’t we playing fast and loose with the idea of where to put God in public life by picking unnecessary fights with those we ought to first find ways to reach out instead of thoughtless legal threats and provocations?
     
  1. “With secular humanists waging their attacks at home and the looming threat from the international radical Islam - people of faith become the line of defense - this is the "Wall of Jerusalem", and you are the watchman God placed.
     
  1. My response: Who are the secular humanists and what are they waging war for or against? Before I put everyone I disagree with into one box, it will be very helpful to know what the issues are from every relevant angle so that an informed decision can be made and a stand taken, for a fair and reasonable settlement of issues, and not just based on my own religious fervor of how everything MUST be. Government works best with collective consent which also takes into account the well being of all those governed and not some privileged group claiming pre-eminence in the name of God. Before we shoot, I hope we can aim and before we go to war, I hope we can explore biblical solutions like ‘loving our enemies’ and that if that does not work, that we not engage in retaliatory conduct but work for the general good of all, with patience and long suffering, taking into account the well being of all citizens and counting on God for the fulfillment of His will, in His own time and in His own way! I hope that we do not forget the lesson Abraham learned when he tried to force the hand of God to fulfill His promises.
     
  1. Those who care about traditional values cannot passively sit by and watch the removal of the very principles that made this country great. The Ten Commandments and what they represent are the heart of all moral code and must be restored to the heart of our society.”
     
  1. Too often when the term ‘traditional values’ is mentioned it is almost understood to mean conflicting issues surrounding abortions and homosexuality and also now the ‘display’ of the Ten commandments and other favorite ‘moral’ issues. What if my ‘traditional values’ are much different than yours? For example, I believe in the separation of church and state, if so, can we work together for the common good despite our differences? Or engage in a culture war so to speak? If so, how can I ‘win’ the culture war? What are the 'weapons' to be used?

    Further, what are the principles that made this country great? Is it the Ten Commandments only? If so, which of the Ten Commandments and why not all the Ten Commandments? Were all Ten Commandments followed at one time or the other? for example, what about the seventh day Sabbath? If the Ten Commandments are being broken, what are the penalties and how are they to be ‘enforced’? Further, it is said that the ‘Ten Commandments are at the heart of ALL moral Code and MUST be restored to the heart of our society! IT is so paradoxical first of all to know that very many Christians believe that the Ten Commandments were nailed to the cross and now the same people claim that the Ten Commandments still apply especially as a basis of U.S. civil code? I think the first issue to be resolved is whether the Ten Commandments have been really nailed to the cross as many claim and secondly to really ask if the Ten Commandments are really at the heart of all moral code of the U.S. by carefully and without bias, reading and understanding the history of the how this country was formed So, does the U.S. have a ‘moral code’? I can agree that some laws were derived from the Ten Commandments, but then to say that this country has a moral code? and if so whose interpretation of that moral code? Well, as I said earlier, what is at the heart of the Declaration of Independence is that all men have been created equal and endowed with some inalienable rights to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and no where does it state that all its citizens MUST now practice the Ten Commandments or follow some hidden moral code!!

    This is a FREE STATE and a secular Republic and anyone is free to practice or not practice any religion and no one can be coerced in the name of God to practice anything! Even though recognition is made of God as the Creator and that ALL men are created equal, how much effort has been made to treat ALL men as equal from the very inception of this country? treating all with equality also means being considerate of others views despite my objections to those views, more so when the discussion is about moral issues!! And then a call is made that we MUST restore the Ten Commandments to the heart of our society!!! We Must?Where in the Bible does it state that the believers MUST restore the Ten Commandments to any society? If so how?
     
  2. I sincerely hope that those observing the Ten Commandments Day use the occasion to discuss how best we can KEEP ALL TEN Commandments rather than use threatening and intimidating language of how WE MUST get others to recognize or obey God’s law!! The best guardian of God’s law is yourself when you decide to KEEP ALL TEN Commandments without change and re-interpretation.
     
  3. Many things have been said and done in the name of God but when Men command or expect obedience to God from other Men, it most definitely is not of God and I would dare say that the Spirit of God is not in them. God commands obedience of those who freely believe in Him but He has definitely not put any human beings in charge of monitoring or measuring such obedience. In fact, we are only called upon to show love for all, from the least of these to the most, nay, ALL of these we may find despiteful and unworthy of our time and consideration.
     
  4. I hope that as a faith community, we refrain from threatening retaliation in any form or manner against politicians and lawmakers who may not agree with having to enforce our expressions of moral values based on our own religious beliefs but that we strive to elect and support individuals who work for the equality and justice of all citizens and choose those who are honest and work to preserve all freedoms on which this great country, the U.S.A. was founded upon. Religion and morality has its place in the public but not as an instrument of coercion.
     
  5. The opinions expressed above may not change your views but I hope will make you think so that you will base your views on sound biblical teaching. What you decide will ultimately decide which camp you and those you influence are in, for better or for worse. God is not mocked with symbols and rituals and pledges and publicity stunts or pious pronouncements but looks at the hearts of men. Look at this paradox: Take the expression ‘In God We Trust’ – well, how do we know and whose definition of God? (f.y.i. this phrase was adopted in 1956 by an act of Congress, much later since the founding of the U.S.) isn't trusting God a matter of personal relationship rather than some corporate or government sanctioned expression? if that be the case, why have Caesar’s image on the dollar bills? And what about those who don’t trust in God? How do we know that 'we' as a nation are really trusting in God? Isn’t trusting or offering prayer to God a matter of faith and personal choice rather than some government  initiated expression? Isn’t this reducing God to a meaningless government expression based merely on tradition rather on an active act of faith? Didn’t Jesus clearly state to give Caesar's what is Caesar’s? If Jesus wanted His image to be on the currency of any country, He would have clearly said so, if some government validation was part of the plan Salvation. When government is engaged in this form of religious symbolism, isn’t it taking sides in what is a religious issue and thus discriminating against those who don’t hold the same views about God? Isn’t government best neutral on issues of religion? The pilgrims if I recall came to this country to escape state mandated religion, so how soon we forget what principles this country actually was founded on?

    God blessed this country and other countries because of its citizen’s willingness to respect the freedoms of others and their willingness to work hard and to treat everyone with equality and justice. Further, if removing the Ten Commandments from public displays seems to affect your beliefs in God and His Final Plans for the Planet, then it is time to ask when did religious symbols become paramount to practicing true religion? It almost annoys and deeply concerns me when I see some Christian groups for example taking issue with those who do not want to call a ‘Christmas Tree’ a ‘Christmas Tree’ and then threaten to sue or claim persecution in an effort to get others to recognize their own personal beliefs. I just wonder if this energy could be best directed at what God has really called us to do i.e., to preach and teach and reach out, through dialogue and reason.  It seems like there is a constant tension portrayed between US and THEM who don’t believe, only furthering the rift and alienation instead of working toward building bridges when and where possible.
     
  1. In the entire Bible I think there are only three references made with the word ‘REMEMBER’ i.e., Remember the Sabbath (seventh day) to keep it holy, then Remember thy Creator in the days of they youth and finally ‘Do this in Remembrance of Me. To me, the Ten Commandments day should be an everyday affair culminating with the Sabbath on the seventh day. Are we ready to do this so that we may be the examples we may want others to follow?
     
  1. Call To Action: If you look on their site to see what to do after and in the context of the Ten Commandments day, you are asked to support some bills to be enacted in the name of ‘restoring the constitution’ … “Join with us in supporting two new bills that that have been introduced to Congress to protect your religious freedom to acknowledging God in America. S520 in the Senate and HR1070 in the House of Representatives.” The context here being is that the Ten Commandment ‘display’ was removed from a public place and therefore we must act to reverse this removal and so on. So the appeal is made to resort to legislation to get 'America to acknowledge God' in the public arena. And that judges can be impeached if they forbid acts of acknowledging God in government/public places by government officials. This sounds more like an effort towards 'religious authority' than 'religious liberty'. So more legal action over ‘moral’ issues.
     
  2. It truly amazes me to no end that finally the Call to Action is to get the Ten Commandments display issue back in the public square. The call to action definitely does not seems to stress a KEEPING of ALL TEN Commandments! So what am I to make of the Ten Commandments Day? Unfortunately, another  opportunity lost! Or maybe an opportunity to focus on what really matters for those who think otherwise? KEEP ALL TEN may be what the CALL to ACTION should be about. A living 'Display' follows keeping all TEN in your own life. And you don't need a pin or a monument but your own actions as a living proof of what God can do.

    In God We Trust, IF we obey all Ten Commands without change or alteration. Some believe that the U.S. Constitution must be restored to reflect more accurately its original intent by its founding fathers and that it i.e., Constitution does not change with time. If that be the case, why not apply the same reasoning to the Ten Commandments the way it was originally intended, to begin with? If God wanted the Ten commandments to be monumentalized, He would have had the original Ten commandments enshrined on some hill somewhere, so why are some wanting to do this in places it is not even called for, thus belittling its importance and its actual place - your heart?

    The preamble of the U.S. Constitution starts with the words 'We the People..' and not 'We the Christians' or 'We the Chosen'. This should cause you to think twice if your mission is to 'restore' the Ten Commandments to the heart of this or any other nation. The mission is to reach, preach and teach through love. Restoration is God's work and He has not called any human being to restore morality to anyone or any nation. God's been there and done that through the 'chosen', and it really did not work out in the end.

    To me, these kind of events only signifies the upcoming and final conflict of all the ages –
    The Commandments of Men vs. The Commandments of God. Whose will you keep? Do you know what to be ‘aware’ of on the ‘Awareness Day’ of the Ten Commandments?

 

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