Pick-and-Choose Commandments?

Only six of the Ten Commandments are important—at least, according to a recent public opinion survey in England.

Still taboo are murder, theft, adultery, lying, and covetousness. And 69 percent of Britons surveyed said it was a good idea to honor your father and your mother.

But if it’s idolatry, taking God’s name in vain, worshiping other deities and, especially, keeping the Sabbath, majorities of nearly 70 percent or greater said that transgressing these commandments is permissible. And only one in five people in the United Kingdom thought it was important to take a day of rest, even when Sunday was listed as the “Sabbath” in the poll questions.

This development is quite a change for Britain, once a nation where Christian faith, including the Decalogue, was given at least some attention by the majority of its citizens. No honest student of British history would say all of its people, or even all of its leaders, were faithful to Scripture’s teachings in all circumstances and at all times, but there was at least some acknowledgment of the importance of the Ten Commandments and their role in shaping their society.

Even an iconic American television newsman, anchor Ted Koppel of “Nightline” fame, acknowledged the importance of a divine code of conduct in a commencement address he delivered thirty years ago at Duke University:

“What Moses brought down from Mt. Sinai were not the Ten Suggestions; they are Commandments. Are, not were. The sheer brilliance of the Ten Commandments is that they codify, in a handful of words, acceptable human behavior. Not just for then or now but for all time. Language evolves, power shifts from nation to nation, messages are transmitted with the speed of light, man erases one frontier after another; and yet we and our behavior, and the Commandments which govern that behavior, remain the same.”
So why do people today believe that four of the Ten Commandments aren’t important? The reasons vary from person to person, certainly, but decades of secular education and cultural conditioning in Britain’s public life surely haven’t helped develop a reverence for God’s law. And while Queen Elizabeth II, the country’s longest-reigning monarch, is known for her devotion to the Church of England, her son Prince Charles doesn't appear as attached. In 2008, he floated the idea of being known as the country’s “Defender of Faith,” a pluralistic stance, rather than as “Defender of the faith” of Christianity.

But whatever people may think, be they royalty or commoners, the fact remains that God’s Word is eternal. We read in the book of Exodus: “He gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God. … Now the tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God engraved on the tablets” (Exodus 31:18; 32:16).

The tablets and the writing was the work of God! You can’t get much more clear than that; the Ten Commandments, all of them, are intended for our welfare. You can learn the whole story by clicking here to view our FREE online Bible Study lesson, “Written in Stone!”

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