The 10 Commandments, found in the Old Testament, may seem irrelevant to our children. They know the basics. We shouldn't steal. We shouldn't lie. We shouldn't kill. But there is a lot more to them and we owe it to our children to teach them the deeper meanings behind the 10 Commandments and help them to make sense in our day and age.
Here are the 10 Commandments with added commentary:
_“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3)_ This commandment might be especially hard to understand if we have taught our children to believe in God. But the other gods include anything that robs us of our reverence to deity and to life in general. Obsession with making money, television, celebrity gossip, being married to your work, drug abuse and pornography — all of these can become gods to us in that our world centers around them.
_“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.” (Exodus 20:4)_ This has a lot to do with the first commandment in that it deals with the things we worship. While we may not have actual carved stone idols, whatever it is that we build up to be more important than our God puts us at risk for the same sort of idolatry. This could be building up a collection of something that becomes our focus or spending too much time worshipping other idols, like athletes or movie stars.
_“Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.”(Exodus 20:7)___ This does not only mean using the Lord's name in a profane way. It also includes using it casually, as in the ever popular OMG.
_“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” (Exodus 20:8)_ This is one commandment that is interpreted many different ways, but ultimately comes down to teaching your children to ask themselves, "Does what I'm doing detract from the holiness of the Lord's day? Is it necessary? Does doing it keep my mind focused on what God has done for me?" If the answer is no, then it is probably not a good Sabbath day activity. Worthwhile activities would include attending church, visiting the sick or lonely, walking in nature, writing letters, doing family history and reading. While working on the Sabbath Day is generally discouraged, there are certainly professionals that need to work on that day, like doctors and policemen.
_“Honour thy father and thy mother.” (Exodus 20:12)_ This means showing respect for the people who gave you life — whether they are good or bad — simply because they were the ones who gave you the opportunity to come to earth and have a life. However, it can go far beyond that. We need to honor the hard work of our ancestors and all that they made possible for us. We should also honor those who nurture and teach us as parents would. We can teach our children that God is our father and part of honoring him is to be obedient to the commandments, learn as much as we can, be kind to others and live the best lives we can, considering him in all decisions we make. We can also honor God through regular prayer.
_“Thou shalt not kill.” (Exodus 20:13)_ While we all know we should not kill, we should consider the other types of things that can be cut short in their prime. We need to teach our children to not destroy others' feelings, confidence, sense of self-worth or dreams. Don't engage in any behavior that deteriorates someone else's spirit.
_“Thou shalt not commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:14)_ We should teach our children that this not only means sexual acts outside of your own marriage, but also other sexual sins. We need to impress upon them the importance of staying chaste and waiting for the right time and place before diving into intimate physical relationships.
_“Thou shalt not steal.” (Exodus 20:15)_This means all forms of taking something that doesn't belong to us. It includes wasting time at work, giving away things free to our friends that should be charged for, stealing supplies and taking without asking. All of these types of stealing should be made clear to our children before we release them to the world. We should also teach our children not to steal someone's good name by slandering them.
_“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.” (Exodus 20:16)_We should teach our children that this includes not only lying about someone, but any form of gossip. We should keep confidences and not spread rumors — whether they are true or not.
_“Thou shalt not covet.” (Exodus 20:17)_ This is one of the most difficult commandments in this day and age of electronics one-up-man-ship. Our children see their friends with the latest and greatest and feel they must have it, too. We need to let them know that spending time and energy desiring what others have, including boyfriends and girlfriends, is contrary to what we should be doing. We need to work on accomplishing good, and not concentrate so much on wanting what everyone else has.
We were given these 10 basic rules for our own good, learning and growth. If we can instill the 10 Commandments in our children, explaining their depth and complexities, our kids will become happier adults desiring good rather than worldliness.