Greg Laurie is the author of 12 inspirational books, which are available online.
Each year, it’s pretty much the same. When we roll into December, we are bombarded by all the lists of what stood out or was notable in the previous 12 months. What were the 10 news stories of the past year? What were the top ten songs or movies or resort destinations or rides at Disneyland? Sometimes, we’re even treated to the 10 worst ones!
For instance, the top 10 songs of all time (according to Rolling Stone magazine) included The Beatles’ “Hey Jude,” Aretha Franklin’s “Respect,” and the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations.” The choice for the all-time best rock song was “Like a Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan.
Then there was a list of the worst songs of all time, which included “Achy Breaky Heart” by Billy Ray Cyrus, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin, and coming in at No. 1 was “We Built This City” by Starship. I’ve heard worse songs than that!
God has His top-ten list, too. In contrast to the music of our time, it never changes. It’s called the Ten Commandments.
It is my belief that one of the reasons for the great success of the United States of America over our 200-plus years can be found in our origins, the fact that our Founding Fathers built this country on a belief in Scripture and in the Ten Commandments.
Abraham Lincoln, regarded by many as our greatest president, said, “But for the Ten Commandments, we wouldn’t know right from wrong.”
Now, that is certainly a far cry from where we are today. It seems like every time you turn around, there is a new attempt to remove the commandments from public view, be it a courtroom or a classroom.
But we still desperately need the Ten Commandments, and we desperately need to follow them. We can either accept their truths, or fight against them and reap the inevitable results. Because as one person said, “You cannot break the laws of God – you break yourself against them.”
Unfortunately, that is not the opinion of many today. Many of us don’t like to be told what to do. Consider the words of Ted Turner, founder of CNN: “We’re living with outmoded rules. The rules we’re living under [are] the Ten Commandments, and I bet nobody here even pays much attention to ’em, because they are too old. When Moses went up on the mountain, there were no nuclear weapons; there was no poverty. Today, the commandments wouldn’t go over. Nobody around likes to be commanded. Commandments are out.”
No, Mr. Turner, the Ten Commandments will never be “out.” In fact, with the state of the world as it is today, we need these commandments – these absolutes written by the very hand of God – more than ever.
Sadly, what we have in the place of these commandments today is moral relativism, the lack of acceptance of moral absolutes. In other words, there is no such thing as right and wrong. There is “your version” of right that may indeed be right for you, but no universal right that we must all accept.
Moral relativism teaches that we are all products of the evolutionary process. There is no God, no plan, no real purpose for our lives, and there is no devil. Moral relativism teaches that we make our own luck, fate, etc. It tells us we are all basically good inside, and if we go bad, it is because we are “products of our environment.” It is the complete freedom from all restraint.
And if you dare to disagree with it and believe in right and wrong, you are labeled “insensitive, intolerant, bigoted and narrow-minded.” And if you actually dare to quote the Bible, then you are accused of imposing your “puritanical value system.”
No wonder our culture in America is in the state it is in.
Many of our young people are being raised without a value system to speak of. In his book, “Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right from Wrong and What We Can Do About It,” William Kilpatrick, a professor of education at Boston College, writes about seeing signs of what he would come to call “moral illiteracy” among his students. During a discussion of the Ten Commandments, he wanted to list them on the board. He writes, “I asked for some help from my students, only to find that they were unable to come up with the complete list. I don’t mean that single individuals in the class were unable to do the task, I mean that the entire class working in concert couldn’t do it.”
No wonder 67 percent of Americans say there is no such thing as right and wrong. A Barna Group report showed that the generation leading the way toward moral relativism is Generation X. Born between 1965 and 1983, this generation rejected absolute truth by a staggering 78 percent!
I am a chaplain with the police department, and I recently went to a briefing on the topic of gangs. Here you have an entire subculture with its own values, rules and beliefs. I asked what the answer to this epidemic of violence was. The police officer, who had spent years working with these gangs, said, “It has to happen in the home!”
You see, the cure for crime is not in the electric chair, but in the high chair, laying a godly foundation for our children and their children.
It’s time to go back to the Ten Commandments! They lay out God’s absolutes for us to live by. They are straightforward, concise and to the point. They are a clear grid to live by, a clear set of absolutes whereby we may know right and wrong, good and evil, true and false, up from down.
Let’s close with God’s top 10:
- Have no other gods before Him (see Exodus 20:2-3).
- Do not make any idols (see Exodus 20:4-6).
- Do not take the Lord’s name in vain (see Exodus 20:7).
- Keep the Sabbath holy (see Exodus 20:8-11).
- Honor your father and mother (see Exodus 20:12).
- Do not murder (see Exodus 20:13).
- Do not commit adultery (see Exodus 20:14).
- Do not steal (see Exodus 20:15).
- Do not lie (see Exodus 20:16).
- Do not covet (see Exodus 20:17).