“Les tables de la Loi”, vitrail de synagogue, Alsace, fin du 19e siècle, Musée alsacien de Strasbourg.
Ji-Elle – Own work

Hear the phrase “Ten Commandments” and you’re likely to get a reaction! They form today’s text from Exodus 20:1-17

The scared and anxious in our society want to reclaim them as a kind of fortress to which to retreat.  Chiselled into our court buildings and taught every day in our schools, this set of edicts will protect us from all that threatens our cohesion and security. More progressive views in our community prefer to leave them to a bygone age with little relevance for today.


To understand the context from which the Ten Commandments (Decalogue) emerged, an escaped band of slaves seeking cohesion through faith and community while wandering the wilderness and growing a sense of destiny, we can transfer the essence behind the Decalogue into our own time.

It boils down to a sense of rootedness in the Source of our own being (Jesus called it “loving God”) and is evident in the first four of the ten. In loving the Source of our own being, the natural corollary is to care for our community, as small or as large as we perceive it to be (Jesus called it “loving our neighbour as our selves”) – these are the final six commandments.

No need to diss ’em!