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Posting the Ten Commandments Is Not Enough
By Larry J. Walker

It is certainly a start, but the Ten Commandments must also be written on the hearts of parents and taught to our children.

he United States Congress recently approved posting the Ten Commandments in schools to help prevent school shootings. This surprising turn of events poses some challenging questions.

How ironic that the document's author cannot be spoken about or spoken to in the classrooms. Discussing the Ten Commandments in school would be construed as a violation of students' rights. Prayer to the God who authored them is not allowed in the classroom.

Evolution is taught as a fact in many schools today; creation is often ignored, even as a scientific possibility. How much credibility can be attached to the Ten Commandments when scientific and historical information from the Bible is ignored or dismissed as a fable or fairy tale?

Our Constitution and Bill of Rights were framed to guarantee freedom of religion. Yet our society seems to promote freedom from religion. As a result, our schools have become secular institutions unable to promote or provide the spiritual values that underlie our national heritage.

Parents often fall woefully short of instilling proper values in their children. My wife and I reflected on this phenomenon on a recent camping trip. The silent beauty of the forest camp was often punctuated by a mother yelling at her infant daughter or a father's steady stream of four letter words to his teenage son. How ironic that in a society where tests, permits and legal requirements abound, no training or instruction is required for "making babies" (to quote Dr. Laura Schlessinger).

When God gave the Ten Commandments, He also said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be in your heart; you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up" (Deuteronomy 6:5-7). The precedent for posting the Ten Commandments originated with God's injunction to "...write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates" (verse 9).

Israel's experience, recorded for our admonition (1 Corinthians 10:11), documents the futility of posting the commandments without following the rest of the instructions. In order to love God, we must internalize His laws and teach them to our children. As a part of society at large, we tend to grasp at portions of the package, the Ten Commandments for instance, in an effort to fix what has gone awry. In the same breath, however, we deny other essential components of the picture: prayer, recognition and acceptance of God, adherence to His plan for eternity, etc. This half-hearted effort at restoration is destined to fail for it excludes essential pieces of the big picture.

The culprit behind such faulty reasoning is human nature (Deuteronomy 5:29, Hebrews 8:8). "Because the carnal mind is... not subject to the law of God" (Romans 8:7). The New Covenant offers the means to offset the pulls of human nature and impart the motivation to obey God's laws (Hebrews 8:10). This is the starting point for successful parenting.

The next step is learning how to rear children according to the Bible. The Bible is full of advice regarding children, parents, and their interaction and responsibility to one another. Focus on the Family (www.focusonthefamily.org) is also an excellent resource for Bible-based information on marriage and family.

Posting the Ten Commandments in schools is not enough. It is certainly a start, but the Ten Commandments must also be written on the hearts of parents and taught to our children. We can make a difference by setting an example within our own families--an example that can inspire others to implement biblical family values.

Copyright 2000 by United Church of God, an International Association All rights reserved.


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