Viewpoint: The Ten Commandments Are Not Suggestions
Contributed By From the Church News
After Moses led the children of Israel out of captivity, he climbed to the top of Mount Sinai, where God spoke to him.
“And the Lord said unto Moses, Hew thee two other tables of stone, like unto the first, and I will write upon them also, the words of the law” (Joseph Smith Translation, Exodus 34:1 [in the Bible appendix]).
And Moses “was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights. … And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments” (Exodus 34:28).
Moses returned from the mountain with the Ten Commandments—laws to govern moral conduct that are as important today as they were in biblical times.
“Although the world has changed, the laws of God remain constant,” said President Thomas S. Monson during his October 2011 general conference address. “They have not changed; they will not change. The Ten Commandments are just that—commandments. They are not suggestions. They are every bit as requisite today as they were when God gave them to the children of Israel. …
“Our code of conduct is definitive; it is not negotiable. It is found not only in the Ten Commandments but also in the Sermon on the Mount, given to us by the Savior when He walked upon the earth. It is found throughout His teachings. It is found in the words of modern revelation. Our Father in Heaven is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (“Stand in Holy Places”).
This April, the Deseret News National Edition included a series of articles titled “The Ten Today” that examined the Ten Commandments in modern society (see http://national.deseretnews.com/ten).
For several years, the United States has seen a decline in religious affiliation. Currently, 20 percent of Americans don’t claim a particular religion or church (see “Soul Seekers: How Spiritual Is Secular America?”).
Yet people continue to find peace and happiness through obedience to the laws of God.
President Gordon B. Hinckley said true freedom lies in obedience to the counsels of God.
“The gospel is not a philosophy of repression, as so many regard it,” he said. “It is a plan of freedom that gives discipline to appetite and direction to behavior” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley , 700).
This is the same message King Benjamin delivered to his people thousands of years earlier.
“I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God,” he said. “For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual” (Mosiah 2:41).
The Prophet Joseph Smith also taught that obedience to the commandments brings blessings and happiness:
“There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—
“And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated” (D&C 130:20-21).
“You must learn to obey the Lord’s commandments,” said Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in his April 1996 general conference address. “Honor your mother and father, keep the Sabbath day holy, do not take the Lord’s name in vain, honor womanhood, be chaste, do not lie or steal, live the Word of Wisdom, and pay an honest tithing and a generous fast offering. If you keep these commandments and others, you will be richly blessed.”
Elder Hales called commandments “loving instructions provided by God” for the physical and spiritual well-being and happiness of His mortal children.
“Commandments allow us to know the mind and will of God regarding our eternal progression. And they test our willingness to be obedient to His will.
“The commandments are not a burden or a restriction. Every commandment of the Lord is given for our development, progress, and growth. …
“Living the commandments brings us into harmony with Deity; we become one in purpose with the Father and the Son. When we are one with God, we walk with spiritual light. Our diligence in keeping the commandments allows the Holy Ghost to dwell within us. We are given the gift of personal revelation. This is a spiritual light that protects us and serves as a beacon, guiding us in righteous ways. It dispels the darkness of the adversary. So powerful is this light that it can reach us even when we are drawn into a black hole of sin so deep and so dark that we believe no spiritual light could ever penetrate” ("If Thou Wilt Enter into Life, Keep the Commandments").
During his October 2011 general conference address, President Monson quoted Jonathan Sacks, Britain’s chief rabbi, who said the world is “spending our moral capital with the same reckless abandon that we have been spending our financial capital.”
“It may appear to you at times that those out in the world are having much more fun than you are,” President Monson told Latter-day Saints across the globe. “Some of you may feel restricted by the code of conduct to which we in the Church adhere. My brothers and sisters, I declare to you, however, that there is nothing which can bring more joy into our lives or more peace to our souls than the Spirit which can come to us as we follow the Savior and keep the commandments” (“Stand in Holy Places”).
The Ten Commandments are also called the “covenant” (Deuteronomy 9:9) or the “testimony” (Exodus 25:21). These words remind us that keeping the commandments connect us with our Heavenly Father and are a reflection of our belief in Him.
After repeating the Ten Commandments in modern-day revelation, the Lord asks all of His children to follow them: “If thou lovest me thou shalt serve me and keep all my commandments” (see D&C 42:18-29).