You don’t need me to tell you that modern people see rules and laws as a restriction of freedom.
To truly be free, society will tell you that you must be allowed to do what you wish.
This common refrain gets sung especially in regard to the Ten Commandments. Our society would just assume them the “Ten Suggestions,” or else ignore them altogether.
Today I wanted to write about how the Ten Commandments are actually liberating, when followed.
The Ten Commandments can be found in two different places in Scripture: Exodus 20:3-17 and Deuteronomy 5:7-21.
“The truth is, of course, that the curtness of the Ten Commandments is an evidence, not of the gloom and narrowness of a religion, but, on the contrary, of its liberality and humanity. It is shorter to state the things forbidden than the things permitted: precisely because most things are permitted, and only a few things are forbidden,” writes GK Chesterton (ILN 1-3-20).
CONTEXT OF THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
Do you remember the events preceding the giving of the Ten Commandments by God to Moses and the Israelites?
God used Moses to free His people from slavery to the Egyptians.
Remember those ten plagues: the Nile River turning to blood, the frogs, the hail, the slaying of the firstborns, etc.?
God enacted all those because the pharaoh refused to let the Egyptians go pay God homage in the desert. God freed them from their bondage. Keep that in mind when you read the Ten Commandments.
TAKE A LOOK AT THE HEBREW
I am not claiming to be a Hebrew scholar, but I heard this great reflection on the Commandments that I wanted to share with you.
Exodus 20:4-5 reads, in part: “…Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven thing, nor the likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, nor of those things that are in the waters under the earth.  Thou shalt not adore them, nor serve them” (Douay Rheims).
Similarly, Deuteronomy 5:8-9 reads, in part: “ Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven thing, nor the likeness of any things, that are in heaven above, or that are in the earth beneath, or that abide in the waters under the earth.  Thou shalt not adore them, and thou shalt not serve them” (Douay Rheims).
That command, “shalt not adore them” is לֹֽא־ תִשְׁתַּחְוֶ֥֣ה (or lō-ṯiš-taḥ-weh or lō-ṯiš-ta-ḥă-weh) in Exodus 20:5 and Deuteronomy 5:9.
It means literally, “do not bow down yourself” or “do not worship”… or (my favorite translation:) “do not make yourself a slave.”
That’s right… God, Mr. Killjoy is commanding us all NOT to make ourselves slaves to unworthy entities. And yet, society would have you believe God is out to rob you of your freedom to turn you into a prude.
People think that for God to tell them they cannot do something is proof of His malice or overbearing ways. Yet, He is the one who created each person, so He knows what is in our best interest. He says no to a select few things, so that you can choose the good. Ability to choose the good, now that’s freedom.
Everyone draws a line somewhere. So while not everyone wants to follow God’s commandments, they enact their own.
Whether people realize it or not, we all live by a creed of some kind. We all allow ourselves to follow some set of rules. Once someone decides NOT to repeat one activity or to always do another, he is placing limits upon himself.
FREEDOM VS. LICENSE
People think that freedom comes from being able to define truth for one’s self. This attitude ends up becoming a license, instead.
True freedom lies in being able to choose the good.
True freedom comes in discovering the truth, not in defining it.
WHAT THEN IS SEXUAL FREEDOM?
“The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to ‘the slavery of sin,’” reads the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1733.
When it comes to sexual freedom, one must conform himself to the truth. The truth of what constitutes moral living can be learned most immediately by following the Natural Law. Conveniently, the Natural Law is summed up in the Ten Commandments (Catechism 1962).
“The natural law, the Creator’s very good work, provides the solid foundation on which man can build the structure of moral rules to guide his choices,” Catechism 1959 tells us.
Examples of the natural law in regard to sexual relations are numerous. Examples would include that sex can result in babies. Sex therefore is a special action that should be done between one man and one woman for a lifetime. Adultery, fornication, pornography, homosexuality, etc. do harm to the integrity of the sexual act, to the people participating, and to the children that may result from non-marital sexual relations.
The point I am trying to make remains that God wills for us our good, even commanding us to NOT become slaves to that which is unworthy of our adoration (such as sex, license, power, prestige, money, etc.).
When we realize freedom lies in being able to choose the good, then we can reject the lie that exercising license will make us happy.
In the realm of human sexuality, we would do well to return to practicing the Ten Commandments. By doing so we would conform to the natural law and so stop grading against the very human nature God created us to have.
So, does anyone care to share any thoughts on this topic?
Did you realize God had commanded you to not be a slave?