If you had to eliminate one of the Ten Commandments, which one would you choose? The pollsters who asked this question may have had tongue in cheek, or perhaps they were exploring the moral values of this era.
Which one? It's impossible to leave out any commandment. Every one is indispensable to justice and to our well-being.
Pieces of equipment usually come with a set of instructions. If you want to use the equipment efficiently, you follow the instructions. Shortcuts or failure to follow the instructions accurately can cause breakdowns.
The Ten Commandments are our instructions for productive lives - and obedience to them is essential to our salvation. The social and political philosophy of vast areas of the world is formed by the ten dynamic commands Moses received on Mount Sinai and delivered to his people.
He later spoke of the completeness, the indivisibility, of God's commands, and reminded his hearers of the need for obedience. He told them, ''Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.'' n1
n1 Deuteronomy 4:2.
Yet, over the centuries, human nature has rebelled against obeying the Commandments. This selfishness, or self-indulgence, threatens justice and freedom by attacking their basic structure.
At the very heart of Christian Science, which was discovered and founded by Mary Baker Eddy, are the Ten Commandments and the teachings of Christ Jesus. When he was asked, ''Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?'' Jesus replied, ''If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.'' n2
n2 Matthew 19:16, 17
Jesus taught the rich possibilities available to mankind through obeying these Commandments, which are not restrictive to true freedom and happiness but rather promote our freedom and well-being. We can experience the harmony of eternal life, the kingdom of God within, as Jesus promised, in proportion to our devotion to God's government, to His law expressed in the Ten Commandments.
Leave one out? How can we? The result can only be discord, even chaos, if we accept the concept of more than one supreme, infinite God, good, the All-in-all.
Christian Science, in accord with the Bible, brings out the nature of God as Love. God loves us, His children. He continually blesses us, pouring out an abundance of health, intelligence, provision, and so on. This impartation of good goes on without interruption. But we cut ourselves off from it when we ignore the command to serve only one God, to honor Him, to love and obey Him.
We also exclude ourselves from good when we throw overboard the commandments that forbid us to kill, commit adultery, steal, bear false witness, or envy. Deteriorating moral standards may suggest that some of the Commandments are outdated. For instance, there are current novels, films, plays, and television programs which propose that the seventh commandment is extraneous. But sexual self-indulgence is ultimately unsatisfying and inevitably leads to moral, intellectual, and social anarchy, until it is forsaken by individuals and the society they create.
Christian Science unequivocally supports the Mosaic and Christian demands for fidelity to the Ten Commandments. After referring specifically to several of them, Mrs. Eddy declares, ''Obedience to these commandments is indispensable to health, happiness, and length of days.'' n3
n3 Miscellaneous Writings,m p. 67.
Who doesn't want a healthier, happier life? Material ways provide, at best, only temporary solutions. Our true key to well-being lies in following the divine directions embodied in the Ten Commandments. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14