So there we were in the car driving home on a lovely almost-spring day also known as Easter. I was mentally shuffling through the heap of junk I call my brain, trying to remember all ten of the commandments.
I found myself stopped at around seven or eight, depending on how I divided the “How to behave to God” section. I turned to Garry, my good Lutheran husband and asked him if he knows all ten commandments and he replied, with some irritation, he had to pay attention to traffic. There wasn’t any traffic, except for one very slow driver in front of us. I suppose Garry was trying hard to avoid ramming him.
Finally, he admitted he didn’t know all of them either.
“It’s a sad state of affairs,” I pointed out, “When two such educated souls as us cannot list all ten commandments.”
“Well there’s a lot of stuff about not making idols and coveting and all.”
“Yeah, and taking a day off once a week.”
So when I got home, I looked them up.
It turns out there really are a bunch of “how to behave to God” commandments and not all religions divide them up the same way. You can come up with as many as 15 (à la Mel Brooks “History of the World.”) or as few as 8. It depends on how you look at them and where you punctuate the sentences.
Following are the Big Ten according to most Protestant sects and a second list which are my streamlined easier-to-remember set.
The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2-17 NKJV)
- “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.
- “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My Commandments.
- “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
- “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
- “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
- “You shall not murder.
- “You shall not commit adultery.
- “You shall not steal.
- “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
- “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”
I thought I’d make them easier to remember, so here’s my take on them. Remember, mine are not etched in stone. For that matter, except for the ones Moses got on Sinai, none of them are.
The Serendipity Top Ten
- I’m God. The One and Only. Don’t forget it, not for a moment.
- Idols are O-U-T.
- No using God’s name to swear. Or maybe no swearing. I’m not sure. Maybe both.
- Take a break on the seventh day of your week. Really it doesn’t matter what day you choose because when I started making the world, there were no calendars. So take your pick, then stick to it. Everyone gets the same day off, including your family, guests, slaves, servants and animals. No work. Got that?
- Take care of your parents.
- Don’t murder anyone.
- Don’t cheat on your spouse. YOU know what I mean.
- Don’t steal stuff.
- Don’t lie.
- Don’t envy other people’s stuff. You’ve got your own.
Is that better? I’m just here to help.