Evan Sayet’s insightful new book The Kindergarten of Eden: How the Modern Liberal Thinks points out the implausible philosophy of those who follow the aphorisms Robert Fulghum trumpeted in his book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. I was in college working on an education degree when Fulghum’s book came out. Some of my instructors looked at this tome as the culmination of the wisdom of the ages and shared little tidbits in their daily lessons. When I read Fulghum’s book for myself, it seemed the literary equivalent of spending an afternoon in a Hallmark card store. Sure there were some happy positive thoughts and advice, but they were no deeper than the jingle on a “get well” card. The advice was not just elementary, as Sherlock Holmes would say, but, well, kindergarten-y. That is to say it was childish, and when we grow up we have to put away childish things. Some of those childish things are merely naïve, some are just plain foolish, but all of them simply will not work in the real adult world.
The lessons we should have learned are those listed in the Ten Commandments. The Commands given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai are timeless common sense instruction directly from the Hand of our Creator. The sooner we begin to practice them in our daily lives, the happier and more successful we will be. Notice, too, that they are commands, not ‘suggestions’ or ‘advice’ or ‘happy thoughts.’ There is no “exception clause” or government waiver available to escape the demands they make upon us – or the dire consequences that will result from choosing to disobey them. Due to our sinful human natures, they are impossible to fully keep, but they do serve as a goal, a measuring stick, and a school teacher (Galatians 3:24). Following their direction makes it possible to be a decent human being and an honorable citizen. As John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” So, can an atheist or a non-Christian be a good citizen? Definitely – if they practice the morality set forth in these precepts. The Ten Commandments build upon each other and contain the solutions for all the problems we face as individuals and as a nation.
I am the Lord thy God, … Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
The First Commandment, like the First Amendment to the Constitution, sets the tone for what follows and unless we hold to this command, we seek to keep the others in vain. Though America is not a theocracy, it cannot be denied that the “Lord thy God” that spoke these words is the Judeo-Christian God of the Bible that our Founders worshipped and honored. In America we celebrate religious freedom, but we must keep the Founder’s God first and foremost. We do not set ourselves or others in the place of God or accommodate those who try to eradicate His preeminence. The modern day trap of multiculturalism is an attack on this Commandment. All moral people are welcome within our nation, but other cultures, religions, and practices must assimilate into the traditional American religious ideal – not the other way around.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven images.
The Second Commandment builds upon the first. Whereas the First forbids us from removing God from His rightful place, the Second Commandment forbids us from elevating man-made objects to His status. We are not to place our hope and faith in things that have been created by men no matter how noble and honorable they appear. Whether it be traditional patriotic objects such as guns or the flag, or the latter day creations of government programs such as social security, we must keep God in His proper place, and then everything else in its proper subservient place.
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
There is the literal application of this commandment (is it any coincidence that the name of Jesus Christ is the only deity used as a swear word or the only Name which is attacked and barred from public prayer?) as well as the more general application. In times of crisis, as a nation we are quick to spout the cliché “God bless America.” When we examine the history of our nation from its founding to the current day, we have eradicated many practices, such as slavery, that were not in keeping with the goals of our Founders or consistent with the testimony of a godly nation. However, over time we have allowed other evil practices and changes in our culture to take root. If American is not a nation that is pleasing to God, it is in vain that we seek His blessing and protection.
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
This command is unique in that it calls us to “remember.” We cannot remember what we have never taken the time to learn in the first place. But even learning the truth doesn’t ensure it will be remembered. It is easy for us to become distracted by the insignificant and then forget the essential. What was so special about “the Sabbath day”? It is the day God rested from His work in creating the world. The day itself is not special – it is what happened on that day that must be acknowledged and honored through our actions and attitude. There are things that God has created for a special reason, and when we fail to remember this or act in direct contradiction to His intended purpose, we are breaking this command. We are to set aside a definite time for God (the Sabbath) and keep it holy by keeping it dedicated to Him. This is to be a time for remembrance, meditation, and recommitment.
Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long.
Since time immemorial, the family has been the basic building block of civilization. American families are under a withering attack today like never before in history. Whether it be the growing acceptance of gay ‘marriage’ or the proliferation of single-parent homes, these choices deliberately deny the children of such a relationship a mother or a father. The traditional family was instituted by God and to break its bonds will unravel and destroy our society. Notice, too, this is the only Commandment with a corollary – “that thy days may be long.” The explosion of gangs, the proliferation of drug use, and the increasingly narcissistic pop culture in today’s society testifies to the nihilistic lifestyles that result from disobedience to this command.
Thou shalt not kill.
The Founders championed “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Respect for God-given life is the basis of all free societies. However, the Progressive social engineering practices so prevalent in our nation today place a subjective value on human life. The holocaust of abortion that has been sanctioned by our nation’s Supreme Court is in blatant violation of this Commandment. The creeping advance of socialized programs such as euthanasia, which will be the natural result of rationed healthcare, continue the assault on the preciousness of life. Our nation’s justice system too often releases those who have committed murder, the most heinous crime an individual can commit against humanity, back into society. God’s command warns us that where there is diminishing respect of life, there is a corresponding loss of liberty and happiness.
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
God does not accept excuses. Honoring marriage commitment vows are not just “a private matter” as politicians caught breaking this commandment contend, it affects the entire nation.
Keeping this commandment would reduce the nation’s divorce rate to practically zero. It would negate the abortion debate. It would also remove the necessity for the greatest majority of welfare programs. The consequences of breaking this Commandment are devastating our nation.
Thou shalt not steal.
If it’s not yours, leave it alone. America is a unique nation in that it has championed the protection of individual property rights. Because the Founders recognized life as a gift from God, they reasoned that each individual had the right to do with their time, talent, and earthly goods as they alone saw fit. Though charity is a virtue, coercion is a crime akin to robbery. The individual is encouraged to freely give to any cause they deem worthy out of their own goods, but it is a sin to take what belongs to another in order to donate to the most noble of causes. It makes no difference whether such a forced contribution is carried out by an individual or by a government. Our current Progressive tax system is based upon the violation of this commandment. There is no honorable argument that justifies “spreading the wealth around” and individuals that champion such an agenda are in violation of God’s Command.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
Don’t lie. It really is that simple. Without lies, there would be no suspicion or cynicism. How long would a politician’s speech be if he or she kept this commandment? The lengths that our elected officials go to in masking the true intentions of policy by using deceptive names and descriptions is appalling. “The Affordable Healthcare Act” will really lead to no one being able to afford healthcare. “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” will really forever alter our nation’s character by erasing our borders. An early American legend recounted a young George Washington confessing to his father, “I cannot tell a lie.” Today’s politicians cannot seem to tell the truth.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house.
Our Creator commands us to be content with what we have – though we are free to apply our God-given talents and thereby acquire more. However, we are not to give a thought to desiring things which do not belong to us. If someone else is the owner, it is out of bounds and we are not to expend one moment in contemplation upon it. Coveting is a jealousy that leads to believing a lie (some are rich because others are poor) and culminates in theft (spreading the wealth around). Following this Commandment would annihilate the Progressive political agenda which is based upon jealousy and class warfare.
The Ten Commandments are definitely not easy, but they are plain and simple. Learning and obeying the Ten Commandments would have a positive impact in the lives of individuals and a powerful influence upon our nation. They point to what has gone wrong in our society and show us there is a better way. The Ten Commandments are certainly not “politically correct,” but they can correct our political predicament.