The great commandment

Now that the voters of Oklahoma have decided against displaying the Ten Commandments on the State Capitol grounds, what are we to do? Has any consideration been given to alternatives? Allow me a few suggestions.

Let me begin by stating my deep appreciation for the Ten Commandments. Most people would admit there must be some boundaries to guide human behavior. Elton Trueblood said, “There is one thing worse than failure to reach an accepted standard, and that is to have no standard to miss.”

Yet what are we to do with rules, requirements, guidelines and standards?

1. Display them publicly: Engrave them on stone monuments and put them in public places. Hope they will be read, remembered, heeded. Put them on plaques in homes, churches or on front lawns (which would be legal).

2. Reduce the number, simplify: Make them easier to remember. A recent “Ripley’s Believe it or Not” column observed than man has more than 5 million laws. Jesus reduced them to two: Love God supremely and your fellowman devotedly (Matthew 22:34-40). He called this the “great commandment.”

3. Even better, how about carrying them with us in the heart? This is called “when all else fails, read the instructions.” The Ten Commandments were given with instructions: “And these words I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach diligently to your children (what a novel idea), and shall talk of them when you sit in your houses …” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). Paul longs for a time when spiritual truth will be written “not on tablets of stone but tablets of the human heart” (2 Corinthians 3:3).

As an 80-plus-year-old retired minister, I would love to see the time when love of God and love of fellow man could be the central, absorbing interest of our lives; not etched into a hunk of granite, but become a habit of life.

Lavonn D. Brown, retired senior minister Norman

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