The Ten Commandments Will Not Budge

stone carving of 10 commandmentsI taught teen Sunday school the whole decade of the 1990s. During the week, these kids would watch the trashy TV talk shows when they got home from school. I wished they wouldn’t, but it was out of my control.

Finally, I decided to take advantage of the situation. So I offered them a challenge:

“OK, since you insist on watching this stuff, let’s evaluate the cases. As you hear about the awful jam that a person has gotten himself (or herself) into, pay careful attention. Backtrack and note what you think was the very first—the very first—wrong step he took. You know, that step that started everything that landed him in this place. And whaddya wanna bet? I’ll bet you that in every single case, that first step was a breaking of one of the Ten Commandments.”

So periodically in class I’d ask about any such shows they’d seen. Can you guess what’s coming? Yep. Every single time, it all started with the person’s breaking one of the Ten Commandments. The teens reported stories like these:

  • “Well see, this girl liked a kinda bad guy. Her parents didn’t want her to go out with him, but she snuck out one night anyway. They drove off and …” (Honor your father and your mother.)
  • “All the guys in this sorta gang had knives, except for one guy. He wanted a knife too, but he didn’t have any money. So he stole some money from his dad’s wallet and …” (You shall have no other gods. Violating that got him into the gang in the first place. Then You shall not steal.)
  • “They were talking to this guy in prison. He’d murdered his wife. Even though he was married, he got a girlfriend. She was wanting him to get a divorce and marry her. But he knew his wife would cause big trouble in a divorce and would take all his money . . .” (You shall not covet and You shall not commit adultery. Violating those led to You shall not murder.)

My teens were pretty amazed. And in discussing the Ten Commandments, I also read this old poem to them:

In vain we call old notions fudge,
And bend our conscience to our dealing;
The Ten Commandments will not budge,
And stealing will continue stealing.

—James Russell Lowell (1820–1891)

These students were beginning to see the point of our research. Not everything that’s old is irrelevant. The Ten Commandments are relevant precisely because they are old. The Lord knows what he’s talking about. He knows how his creation works best. (Duh.) And that’s why he set these rules in place early on.

The Ten Commandments will not budge. And the sooner our kids learn this—and learn to use God’s rules to guide their steps—the better.


by Lynn Lusby Pratt, © David C Cook 2019. This 2022 revision is reprinted with permission.


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