THE TEN COMMANDMENTS AND GOVERNMENT — PART 1

Some people believe our country’s government was founded upon Christian belief. Others will say no. They say a bunch of Deists founded our government. If for no other reason than because of the sheer rarity of the type of society the Founders created, I would tend to fall in the former camp. However, we also have the simple fact the vast majority of people in the American colonies were Christians. So I think that with a little study we can show an indirect relationship between our Constitution and Christian beliefs.

So What Will This Series Do?

The Ten Commandment form the core of the Mosaic Law. So this study will focus on The Ten Commandments.

What are the Ten Commandments?

I suppose some will think this a boneheaded question, but consider how much we argue about religion and politics. For example, Wikipedia has an article about The Ten Commandments. Of course, the facts there are in dispute. Since I cannot satisfy everyone, I will just use something familiar to me. Here is what I found on the website of the United Methodist Church. The link is to a document that displays Exodus 20:1-17. Exodus 20:1-17 is where the Bible first lists the Ten Commandments. The translation is the New_Revised_Standard_Version.

What Did Israel Agree To Do?

In Exodus 19-24, Moses describes the covenant that God made with Israel. Here is how God offered the covenant to Israel.

Exodus 19:5-8 American Standard Version (ASV)

5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be mine own possession from among all peoples: for all the earth is mine:

6 and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

7 And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which Jehovah commanded him.

8 And all the people answered together, and said, All that Jehovah hath spoken we will do. And Moses reported the words of the people unto Jehovah.

With the covenant, Israel agreed to become a kingdom of priests, that is, a theocracy. What is curious is that at this point the people of Israel did not yet know God’s laws. Nonetheless, they boldly agreed to live by God’s commands. Why they assumed they could do such a thing we can only guess, but God did not rebuke them.

Anyway, by Chapter 24 the people of Israel had formally certified the covenant, and by Chapter 32 they had violated that covenant by worshiping a golden calf. Nevertheless, God continued His efforts to redeem both Israel and the rest of human kind.

Below are few additional references.

What About The Fact That Christians Are Not Under The Law?

We now have a New Covenant. What was the problem the Old Covenant? Was there something wrong with the Law God gave Israel? No. The problem resides in us. On our own we cannot perfectly obey the Law. The Apostle Paul explains the theology the Book of Romans. He describes in detail the relationship between sin and the Law in Romans 7:7-23, but it is Jesus who succinctly summed up the matter.

Matthew 26:41 English Standard Version (ESV)

Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Hence we had the need for a New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

Jeremiah 31:33 Today’s New International Version (TNIV)

“This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
after that time,” declares the LORD.
“I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.”

With his sacrificial death on the Cross, Jesus offers us that New Covenant as a gift (Galatians 3). What we need to accept His gift is faith.

Below are few additional references.

How Do Our Nation’s Laws Fit Into This Discussion?

Recall that ancient Israel was a theocracy, and it had a government run by men. So long as the people of Israel obeyed Him, God offered them a Utopian existence on earth. When run by men, government, unfortunately, has two big problems.

  • The Law is a blunt instrument. When we use the Law, we do not get the voluntary cooperation of our fellow citizens. We force people to comply. Of necessity, that means a one-size-fits-all solution.
  • The Law requires a Law Enforcer. The more we use Government and the Law to solve our problems, the greater is the power we must give the Law Enforcer to enforce our laws. The more power we give the Law Enforcer, the greater the risk of corruption.

When Israel insisted upon having a king, they gave that king too much power. The result was just what God had predicted (see 1 Samuel 8). Instead of each individual seeking perfection from God, the king demanded that the people conform to his own corrupt vision.

We face problems similar to what Israel faced in the time of the Samuel. We forget how the Lord has blessed us. Instead, we look overseas, and we wonder why we cannot be just like those other nations. Yet even now those other nations are discovering the limitations of government. Mankind cannot use government to create a Utopia. Just as Israel could not keep its kings from becoming corrupt, neither can we keep our leaders pure.

How Will This Study Provide Proof?

If it were possible to prove that our government was founded upon Christian belief, someone with more knowledge than I have would have done it a long time ago. So I don’t expect to provide any such proof. My hope is to examine whatever material is available online, take notes and spark some discussion.

To be continued: Next week we will discuss the 10th commandment of The Ten Commandments.

October 15: The 10th Commandment.

October 24: The 9th Commandment.

November 7: The 8th Commandment.

December 11: The 7th Commandment.

March 25, 2012: The 6th Commandment.

August 12, 2012: The 5th Commandment.

December 9, 2012: The 4th Commandment.

May 27, 2013: The 3rd Commandment.

June 16, 2013: The 2nd Commandment.

June 24, 2013: The 1st Commandment.

June 29, 1013: Examples Of “Proof” Our Laws Are Not Based Upon The Bible (last post)

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