1. I, the Lord, am your God. You shall not have other gods besides me.
2. You shall not take the name of the Lord God in vain
3. Remember to keep holy the Lord's Day
4. Honor your father and your mother
5. You shall not kill
6. You shall not commit adultery
7. You shall not steal
8. You shall not bear false witness
9. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife
10. You shall not covet your neighbor's goods
In the Protestant Churches, they are as follows, with the differences highlighted:
1. You shall have no other gods but me.
2. You shall not make unto you any graven images
3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain
4. You shall remember the Sabbath and keep it holy
5. Honor your mother and father
6. You shall not murder
7. You shall not commit adultery
8. You shall not steal
9. You shall not bear false witness
10. You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor
The differences are that the protestant churches forbid any graven images, the word “kill” is replaced by the word “murder”, and they lump all covetous things together, while the Catholic Church specifically adds the prohibition of coveting your neighbor’s wife. Why the differences? The 10 Commandments come to us from Exodus 20:2-17, which reads as follows:
I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.
Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
Thou shalt not kill.
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Thou shalt not steal.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor's.
From Exodus 20, one can see that either list is an abbreviated version of the prohibitions. How they are abbreviated is the key. The Catholic Church has had its list of 10 Commandments for around 2000 years, while the protestant churches have had their list for almost 500 years. The highlighted portion of the text from Exodus above says that the punishment for our sins can be handed down to our children, our grandchildren, and our great grandchildren. The good news is that it also says that His mercy will be handed down to thousands of our descendants if we love Him.
The protestants’ list forbids any graven images whatsoever, which is an extra commandment when compared to the Catholic listing, but this isn’t adhered to in a lot of protestant churches, which have crosses and stained glass windows of biblical events. It also wasn’t adhered to by God, who told the Israelites to put graven images of 2 angels on top of the ark of the covenant, which carried the Ten Commandments, who told Solomon to put graven images of cherubs and palm trees in his temple, and who told the Israelites in the desert to make a graven image of a bronze serpent, so that the Israelites who looked upon it (not worshipped it) would be healed. The protestant commandment to not make any graven images whatsoever does not take into account the entire paragraph, which includes the prohibition against worshipping the graven image. The key here is that God didn’t want any more golden calf incidents, where the people actually believed that the graven image of the golden calf (an Egyptian god) was a god itself. (An interesting observation is that there is a statue of a bull on Wall Street in
The protestant commandment of prohibition against murder, rather than killing, is a minor distinction. In the Bible, both Moses and Joshua killed many non-believers, and were told to do so by God. The Catholic Church says today that one is justified in killing if you are protecting your homeland against invaders, or are protecting yourself from someone who is trying to kill you, as long as it doesn’t occur after the person is already debilitated.
The protestant version of the tenth Commandment that lumps all coveting together is also a minor difference from the Catholic version, because that would also include coveting someone’s wife, which is the Catholic ninth Commandment. How many people today covet everything their neighbor has, including their wives? A lot. And how many people fail to confess this sin in the confessional? A lot.
And what gives God the right to tell us what not to do? He created us. When you buy an electronic gadget, and the instruction book says not to get it wet or use it in the shower, how stupid would we be to do what the book says not to do? The creator of the electronic gadget knows it a lot better than we do, and we would be wise to listen to the rule book that comes along with the gadget. The same goes for us. God, who made us, knows us better than we know ourselves, and He surely doesn’t want us burning in hell for our own actions. As a loving Father, He warns us about what not do in the Ten Commandments.
The 10 Commandments from Moses, the lawgiver in the Old Testament, can be seen as God’s “stop” lights for us. If we do not do these horrible things, then that is a great starting point for a good Christian life. However, Jesus, the lawgiver of the New Testament, gives us some mandatory “go” lights. These include, from Matthew 25, to feed the hungry, to visit the sick and imprisoned, to give drink to the thirsty, to welcome strangers, and to clothe the naked. In Matthew 25, the people who did not do these things did not get into heaven, but were banished instead to hell. The people who did do these things did get into heaven, because Jesus said that as often as they did these things to the least of their brother, they did it to HIM. The big lie that many protestants believe in today is that good works are useless, and that all that is required to get into heaven is to profess your belief in Jesus Christ as your personal lord and savior, words which are not found in the bible, by the way. While this is certainly true for deathbed conversions, it is not true for those of us who are alive and well and believe in Jesus today. Many protestants are confused about the meaning of the word “works”. The Bible does say that Jewish works of the law are indeed useless (Romans 3:28), but those are not good works, which the bible says that we have to do. Romans 2:6 says that He will render to us ACCORDING TO OUR WORKS. And notice that the Bible doesn’t say that works done by the government with our tax dollars get us into heaven. What it does say is that WE personally have to do those works. That means getting involved with our time, our talents, and our treasure, in whatever capacity suits us best. On a practical level it means that we have to turn off the TV, and sacrifice our time and our money for the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, the hungry, and the thirsty. A great way to do all of this is to get involved with the St. Vincent de Paul organization, but whichever organization that does all of these things is OK.
What is so sad today is how so many of the 10 Commandments are ignored, and how the opposite of them is thrown at us daily through the law, commercials, and the media. Abortion, the taking of an innocent human life (the “thing” in the mother’s tummy is human, and it is growing, therefore it is a LIVE HUMAN), is now seen as a basic human right by so many evil governments. Coveting your neighbor’s wife occurs a lot in the movies, when female beauty is shown endlessly and is the main draw to get men to watch the movie. Every time somebody succumbs to a commercial to buy more useless stuff because our neighbor has it and we don’t, we are breaking the tenth commandment. How many politicians lie every day in full view of us all? How many Catholics ignore the second Commandment and don’t go to Mass anymore? A lot. And how many people casually take the name of God in vain as an expletive? A lot.
To sum up, by obeying the 10 Commandments we may think that we are on cruise control or autopilot to heaven. But that kind of thinking would completely ignore the entire New Testament. Jesus says that the greatest Commandments are to love God with your whole strength and your whole soul, and to love your neighbor as yourself. That means we have to sacrifice our time, talents, and treasures for the least among us. After all, a diamond in the mud is still a diamond; we just have to clean the mud off of it first. The poor and destitute among us are just like that diamond in the mud.
If we all did a small share right now, the poverty problem in the world today would be solved. That may mean not going gambling, or on a cruise, or on an expensive far-away vacation this year, but which is more important – being temporarily satisfied now, or being permanently happy in heaven later? Choose wisely! We are all called by Jesus himself to rescue that person from the mud in his life, whether it is drugs, poverty, pornography, occultism, loneliness, imprisonment, etc. Probably few who read this are called to be a Mother Teresa, but what she did with her life is what we should all be doing on a smaller scale.