The Ten Commandments were given to Moses centuries ago in the Old Testament. The Old Testament. Doesn’t that make them outdated? What relevance could the ten commandments possibly have for our advanced society today?
In the 1970’s a minister on the radio said that he never talked about the Ten Commandments in his church anymore because they were so out of date. Not only were they outdated but he felt the language was too harsh for the weak sensibilities of our day. Strong words such as command and Thou shalt not. This minister believed the Lord should have used softer words like I recommend or I suggest or I advise.
If a minister is dispensing of the Ten Commandments in the 1970’s, what good are these Commandments now some 40 years later? Even today there are churches that don’t have ten commandments but rather ten suggestions.
Tuning in to the news for even a few minutes brings to mind all the Ten Commandments for anyone who is aware of them and hopes for a more peaceful tomorrow. I don’t want to stand in judgment of the world. I want to take this idea a step further and make it more personal.
My friend brought up an interesting idea in a church lesson. It has really made me think. The 6th commandment states Thou shalt not kill. Well that’s easy enough for me. I don’t hunt. I have no desire to kill another person. I feel no need to own guns for protection. The same was true for Eric. He suggested that maybe the commandment doesn’t apply to similar people. What would be the purpose of a commandment that doesn’t apply to most people? Perhaps it’s outdated or needs to be reworded.
Then he asked how many of us drive a car? He pointed out that a car can be a deadly weapon. How often do we think of that? How often do we climb into our cars, weighing anywhere between 3,000 and 8,000 pounds, and speed to our appointments we are late for? Is that not a violation of the 6th commandment? What about the times we are careless, selfish, or just not paying attention as we drive?
There are so many stories on the news almost daily about fatal car accidents. One story was told of a car speeding down the freeway. It clipped an SUV whose passengers included small children. The driver of the car lost control and the car rolled off the freeway crashing violently into a tree. The impact caused the car to catch fire which ultimately burned the driver and passenger to death.
Thou shalt not kill. In that case they killed themselves. Luckily no one else was hurt. What a tragedy though.
Every time I hear Katy Perry’s Roar I can’t help but think of a music teacher who was killed in a senseless car accident. The news showed a clip of her leading her students in the singing of that song. She was in the car with her husband and mother. They were out celebrating the teacher’s birthday. Their car was stopped at a red light. A truck was speeding down the road. The driver was busy looking at his phone and was oblivious to the upcoming traffic light. He slammed into the car with such force it’s actually impressive the husband survived. His wife and her mother did not.
Thou shalt not kill.
Are the words too harsh for our day? A story is told of the chief engineer of a company. He was fired and asked the president why he had been dismissed. The president said, “You let us make a mistake which cost us a lot of money.” The engineer replied, “But certainly you must remember that I specifically advised you not to do that.” The president replied, “Yes, I remember that you advised us not to do it, but you didn’t pound the table when you advised us.”
Is that what it takes? Soft words delivered with fist poundings for emphasis? Unfortunately I see this mentality in other drivers every day. I drive by a park near my house every day. There are two signs at the exit from the park. Two large, bright yellow signs with thick black letters that say “CROSS TRAFFIC DOES NOT STOP.” There are also stop signs. Which the last time I checked were not optional or nice suggestions.
At least once a day, I kid you not, there is a driver who ignores those signs or chooses not to believe them. I don’t know. But they start to go thinking the thick white lines marking the crosswalk are a stop bar for cross traffic. So far no accidents but we have had many close calls.
Thou shalt not kill. And vehicles can be deadly weapons when misused.
Just this morning I was at an intersection trying to turn right. As I started to creep out into the intersection I noticed a pedestrian standing on the corner. It’s hard to look left and see when to attempt to fit into traffic when I’m concerned for the safety of a pedestrian on my right. Just as I was about to go the lights changed. I had the green. I stopped to wait for the pedestrian who should have crossed in front of me. A car behind me came around my left side to make a right hand turn in front of me.
It freaked me out! The pedestrian wasn’t walking. I couldn’t understand why he was just standing there with no indication he would ever step off the corner in either direction. Still, I felt obligated as a driver to wait. The driver behind me felt no such obligation. He drove around me as if we were on a larger arterial street with two right turn lanes, rather than the neighborhood corner we were on with barely a center divide line. What if the pedestrian had started to walk? That could have been ugly.
Another intersection I have to navigate several times a day has two left turn lanes. A woman was in the furthest left lane. I was in the right left lane. When we got the green arrow she inched her way through that turn very slowly, not to mention widely. She was crowding into my lane. I was trying to maintain my position in my lane. Many parents turn right immediately after that left turn. I stay in the middle lane so I can drive to the back of the school. A few parents do what this woman was trying to do. They try to turn right from the furthest left lane.
She cut me off. Still slowly. It was as if she really had no idea where she was. And then slowly drifted into that right turn only lane on the other side of me. I was mad enough I honked at her and loudly yelled that she was an idiot. Because that’s how she was driving. (Not a Christlike attitude on my part, I realize.) She was facing forward with the blankest expression I have ever seen on someone who just crossed several lanes in front of other motorists who were braking hard to avoid hitting her.
Every day I feel like I’m taking my life in my hands when I drive. In a way I am. I am operating large machinery that has been known to kill people. I’m not the only large deadly machine out there either. The streets are congested with many more. How many of us are consciously aware that our cars, convenient as they are, could be so powerful and deadly in certain circumstances?
I don’t think any of the Ten Commandments are outdated or should be reworded. I think people need to be more responsible in recognizing consequences to their choices. Yes, there are atheists out there but even then they should strive to be more responsible citizens. It’s not surprising to me that the commandments have been woven into the laws of the land. If only we regarded the laws of the land with more importance than merely suggestions.