If ye love me, keep my commandments.
- Jesus, in John 14:15
What would Jesus do? Four little words on a tiny cloth wristband.
Both my sons have these bracelets, though I havent seen them worn lately. I guess theyre no longer cool, no longer in style. Despite their sincere and meaningful purpose, they must have gone the way of leisure suits, pet rocks and waterbeds.
But for me the demise of most fads does no serious damage to my sense of well-being, or our culture. I never liked cutesy religious accoutrements, goofy T-shirts or commercialized plaques anyway. To me, a depiction of Calvary stretched across a provocative tank top is demeaning, degrading, and disrespectful to the Creator of the Universe.
However, it now appears that multi-ton monuments, or at least those bearing any religious writings whatsoever, will also become dim memories of the past, and of a time when we werent afraid or ashamed to promote our faith. They will be torn apart and dragged out because someone is offended.
But why do the majority of our citizens, more than 77 percent in the last Gallup Poll, who want public displays of the Ten Commandments left alone, have to bend to the 19 percent or so who dont? When did government of, for, and by the people, become government of, for, and by sheep-headed, power-drunk despots who, like the pharisees of Jesus time, know the letter of the law, but not the heart of it?
Despite Chief Justice Roy Moore and Alabamas unflagging attempts to resist federal mandates to remove a 5,300 pound rock bearing the Ten Commandments, the secular system has apparently won its battle. Thus, as more and more deviates sashay out of the closet, we see the foundation of our society shoved into one.
But why are we even surprised? Weve been climbing into that proverbial hell-bound handbasket for years. We no longer begin our school days with prayer, and most seniors graduating today wouldnt even know what a baccalaureate service was. Mainline churches are losing members every year, while some Episcopalians seem to have lost their minds altogether.
Television and movies offer a world where decent standards and values are barely given a passing nod, and then only in the most contrived of circumstances.
The Ten Commandments were practical laws given to man thousands of years ago. Without murder sanctioned, we can feel safe and secure in our homes, or on our streets. Adultery or thievery deemed wrong means fewer deadly diseases or broken hearts. Lying condemned leads us to follow the truth. God wants us to live harmoniously, peacefully, abundantly. He gave us a spirit meant to be guided by common sense striving for the common good.
But good sense is anything but common these days. In fact, in some circles, its practically nonexistent. The dream of a new country held by our forefathers has become a nightmare of reverse intolerance, racism, and persecution. White Anglo-Saxon Protestants are about as politically incorrect these days as virgin brides and volunteer soldiers.
I suppose now that the Ten Commandments have been relegated to churches or private dwellings only, well need to start culling out a few more embarrassing artifacts - The Declaration of Independence, Arlington National Cemetery (all those irritating little white crosses, you know), paper currency, President Bush.
If such horrors cant be forced upon us for fear we might be greatly influenced, or, egad, feel unwelcome, as the executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State warns, then I guess Ill also have to excise a few God-fearing notables from the current high school literature curriculum I teach as well: John Smith, William Bradford, Anne Bradstreet, Edward Taylor, Jonathan Edwards, Patrick Henry, Thomas Paine, Phillis Wheatley, William Cullen Bryant, Ralph Waldo Emerson I could go on forever.
Columnist Cal Thomas says that Gods followers ought to interest more people in God and His message (with) internal, not external, things. He feels Christians have apparently forsaken the harder but more effective work in favor of exterior symbols.
In many ways, Thomas may be right, but the truth is, without some of those external symbols in place, the internal messages will soon die out. Without schools, responsible parents might see to their childrens education on a consistent basis, but for the masses, regular instruction would go the way of the dinosaurs. Without some form of centralized government, every dictator in the world would be clamoring to split our union apart bit by bit. And without churches, worship would also become something we used to do.
Now is not the time to tear down precious, solid reminders of good and right. I just dont believe Jesus would approve.
(Mindy Jeffers is a Martinez resident and teaches at Curtis Baptist High School.)
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