The following is another excerpt from the opening chapter of Ten Enduring Words.
A friend of mine recently forwarded me a YouTube video clip of popular television host Stephen Colbert interviewing a congressman regarding this very issue of displaying the Ten Commandments. The congressman was reportedly the one who sponsored a bill that would require the Ten Commandments to be displayed in Congress. In the video clip, the congressman explains the importance of protecting this document and states that without it, we would lose our sense of direction. Colbert then asks the congressman to name the Ten Commandments. He begins with a couple easy ones, but then pauses, realizing the awkwardness of the moment. He finally admits that he cannot name them all.
To be fair, numerous surveys conclude that most of us could not name them all either. Quick – list all ten (and don’t flip to the table of contents). I have been studying them for a couple years now, and I am not sure I could list all ten if I was stopped on the sidewalk and a microphone shoved in my face.
It has come to represent the quandary that many well-meaning, religious people find themselves in: trying to uphold the value of something they consider to be sacred, while being unable to recite the very thing considered sacred. You can almost understand why the secular world scratches their collective heads, asking “Is this important to you or not?” For people of faith it should be both a valid point, and at the same time, only scratching the surface of a bigger issue. Are we expected to live these commandments out in our lives today? Again, is it more important that we display the Ten Commandments, have them committed to memory, or that they are actually an embodiment of the way we live?