A Ten Commandments monument has been removed from the grounds of the State Capitol in Oklahoma at the insistence of the ACLU. What makes a law a law? Why is it wrong to murder, steal, and lie, three of the Ten Words (Decalogue) found in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 and repeated in the New Testament (Rom. 13:9; Eph. 4:28) and known as the Ten Commandments?
If God is out of the picture, then who gets to make the laws? The State becomes the new God, violating the First and Second Commandments, and it makes all laws.
“In an interview with CNN affiliate KOCO, Bruce Prescott, an ordained Baptist minister and one of the plaintiffs in the suit against the display, said, “I’m not opposed to Ten Commandments monuments. I’m just opposed to the placement on government property, because I think that the government needs to be neutral.” (CNN)
There is no neutrality. The State has declared that it’s OK to steal in terms of taxes. It’s OK to murder in terms of abortion. It has redefined marriage so that now people of the same sex who can’t be “fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:28; 9:7) are now at a greater legal advantage in some states because their sexual choices cannot be questioned.
There is no way to avoid who’s ultimately in charge (God or the State), and who makes the laws (God or the State). Every time a legislature acts, a court rules, and a President implements an Executive Order, there are more laws. Where is the real tyranny?
If there is no God, there are no fixed laws. Materialism can’t account for moral laws. Atheism can’t account for morality. Has an evolutionist ever been able to prove that the first sign of sentient life followed a moral code? “Survival of the Fittest” and “Nature, red in tooth and claw” know no moral boundaries.
We are at the mercy of an unrestrained State.
For the original theatrical release of the film The Ten Commandments in 1956, Cecil B. DeMille filmed an onscreen introduction. Most people who only have seen the Ten Commandments on television have never seen DeMille’s opening monologue. It’s only on DVD versions of the film. DeMille had something more in mind than just making a film about a religious figure from the Bible. He considered his production to be so important that he came out on stage to deliver a short but powerful statement on the nature of freedom under the law of God:
“The theme of this picture is whether men ought to be ruled by God’s laws or whether they are to be ruled by the whims of a dictator like Rameses. Are men the property of the State or are they free souls under God? This same battle continues throughout the world today.”
The elaborate film Souvenir Book that was made available in theaters includes a preface with the title “The Law by Which Men Live”:
“The Ten Commandments are not rules to obey as a personal favor to God. They are fundamental principles without which mankind cannot live together. THE TEN COMMANDMENTS are not laws. They are THE LAW. . . . Man has made 32,000,000 laws since they were handed down to Moses on Mount Sinai more than three thousand years ago, but he has never improved on God’s law.”1
Ted Koppel of Nightline fame made the following comments to the 1987 graduating class of Duke University:
“What Moses brought down from Mt. Sinai were not the Ten Suggestions. They are commandments. Are, not were. The sheer brilliance of the Ten Commandments is that they codify in a handful of words acceptable human behavior, not just for then or now, but for all time. Language evolves. Power shifts from one nation to another. Messages are transmitted with the speed of light. Man erases one frontier after another. And yet we and our behavior and the commandments governing that behavior remain the same.”2
Koppel was not saying anything new. This is the worldview of past generations. Surely a remnant of the older worldview remains, but that remnant is being obscured by a modern worldview that claims that values are what we make them. Is it any wonder that studies show a decline in moral behavior? The attempts to provide a value-free, supposedly neutral, way of dealing with social issues demonstrate that we have raised a throng of “moral illiterates.” In our attempts to be neutral regarding morality, we have pushed a generation of young people into the arms of immorality.
“When confronted with questions of right and wrong, many more youngsters are guided by what gets them ahead or what makes them feel good than by what their parents or religious authorities say, according to an ongoing study of moral development.”3
This is the fruit of the humanist insistence that when it comes to morality, parents, teachers, and ministers should teach a libertine ethic: Do what you please as long as what you do doesn’t hurt anyone else. Children are to make up their own minds when it comes to moral questions. They have. If there are no moral absolutes for individuals, then there are no moral absolutes for politicians.
But it never works this way. In the end, the State intervenes and becomes the new arbiter of right and wrong.
- The Ten Commandments Souvenir Book, Paramount Pictures Corporation (1956, 1957), was published by The Greenstone Company, New York, N.Y. [↩]
- Ted Koppel, The Last Word, Commencement Address at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina (May 10, 1987). Quoted in Robert H. Bork, The Tempting of America: The Political Seduction of the Law (New York: The Free Press, 1989), 164. [↩]
- Joan Connell, “American Children are Becoming Moral Illiterates,” Marietta Daily Journal (October 11, 1990), 5B. [↩]