We Don’t Need a New “Ten Commandments”
Lech Walesa, famous for masterminding the overthrow of Communism in Poland, recently proposed that the world needs a new set of commandments, secular commandments, that transcend religions and draw from common global values. His proposal made worldwide headlines. Speaking at the 13th Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Warsaw on October 21, 2013, Walesa’s proposal sounded very good to secular thinkers around the world.
Secularists will applaud this idea and will, no doubt, organize themselves to work for this objective very soon. There are two reasons that secular thinkers find this idea appealing: 1) a secular ten commandments would not include any mention of God, and 2) a global Ten Commandments would increase momentum for a world government to sprout from the United Nations.
Like a lot of other items on the secular agenda, this item may not immediately bear fruit. It smacks of a call for one or several global gatherings to produce a document with the list. Such gatherings may not be able to contain themselves within only ten commandments. There is so much to say!
Christians may feel puzzled by the prospect of this endeavor. On the one hand, Christians don’t feel the need for new commandments. The ten given by God on Sinai are quite universal and deal with the most profound human problems. Christians believe that the first commandment, to worship God and God alone, is central to all the others, yet they know that secular thinkers don’t want any mention of God in their rules. Further, anything global must, in the secular view, take into account every god ever dreamed up plus all the views of people who reject God or any idea that any god can exist. In the stew that such a concern stirs up, it is almost certain that all mention of God or gods will be suppressed by whatever group is tasked with the writing. That rejection immediately poses problems for Christians, especially if the rejection is expressed in a commandment that everyone must keep his religion to himself. (For comments on this idea, see my post “Just Keep Your Religion to Yourself.”) This commandment flies in the face of the Constitutions of many nations and is in direct contradiction to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Nevertheless, if public rhetoric in the US is any guide, there will be momentum to shut down the public expression of faith or anything spiritual, all in the interest of world peace. Christians will not be the only people who feel threatened by such a commandment,
On the other hand, Christians will want to be involved if such a discussion takes place. Christians have a commission from God himself to share their faith with the whole world. Simply to object to a process that will create new, global commandments for humankind will not be enough. If objections fail, and the process is initiated, Christians will want to have a voice in the final wording.
That phrase is ominous: “final wording.” And worrisome. It invites contemplation of an era in which someone in the world has the final say on everything in the world. Commandments, by definition, require enforcement. Otherwise they are nothing but suggestions. “The Ten Best Options for Human Behavior” simply do not have the force of “The Ten Commandments.” If enforcement is called for, the options for enacting enforcement lean heavily in the direction of a global government with police powers. Only secularists who actually believe that human beings are steadily and irreversibly evolving into a higher morality could think that this development would be utopia.
Christians know that God has already given us ten commandments that humans cannot live up to. Those commandments begin with a commandment that empowers all the others. If humans could ever live by the first commandment, the others would just naturally follow. “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:2) Humans cannot obey this law, nor can they obey the others. Humans do not need more commandments or different commandments. Human beings need only one thing: Christ our Savior. Christ’s blood shed on the cross covers all our sinful disobedience to the commandments God gave us, and Christ’s blood covers the arrogance of our disobedience to the first commandment when we start thinking that God’s commandments need to be edited and revised, or just outright replaced.
The human race does not need ten new commandments to live by. The human race needs to live by the ten commandments we already have. The human race needs Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. As Steve Green said in his song, “People Need the Lord.” That is what the world really needs.