We didn’t end up with ten commandments in order to please God or win heaven. We need them because most of us are generally simply oblivious. We go for the pleasure right in front of us in that moment without stopping to think about the consequences for us and others down the road.
It’s not about being judged or labeled or punished, it’s about love. The basic ten are a gift from God because God loves us enough to try to help us not screw up our lives and others’ beyond repair. Even though God knows how blind we are and forgives us, when we make poor choices we eventually have to face and live with the crippling and often even heartbreaking consequences.
Life is not a test, a contest, or a game we play for prizes.
The rules are about relationships. The basic ten are about how to avoid killing relationships so they have a chance to grow. They are the minimum survival guidelines.
The goal is learning to love enough to have deep, lasting, nurturing, transforming joyous relationships.
The first relationship is with God for the simple reason that grace is unconditional love and God is pretty much the only place you can count on that no matter what stupid thing you do.
I’ve reached an age where I can look back and see the harm even mildly selfish choices have caused not only others, but myself. Because when we continue in a pattern of choosing immediate gratification as we become adults with responsibilities to and for others, it becomes an addiction with painful consequences for both ourselves and them.
Addiction to avoiding discomfort or pain plays out in extremely diverse ways, even in socially approved things that aren’t recognized as addictions. When our marriage relationship starts to take work or involves delayed gratification, some of us simply become workaholics. That way we avoid what makes us uncomfortable and feel virtuous while doing it. Most don’t recognize this as being an addiction, a pattern of escape with consequences similar to using alcohol, infidelity, or running away.
Take another look at the Big Ten. Take another look at your daily choices. Are they healthy for you and for your relationships? Are they about learning to truly love, whatever it takes? Or are they about running from the challenge to do the not always pleasurable daily nitty-gritty it takes to grow up and learn to love.
I once heard a priest say, “Passion(suffering), death, and resurrection should all be one word.”
Somehow most of us in America have bought into the delusion that life is just for fun. And any discomfort, never-the-less suffering, starts us looking desperately for escapes.
Unfortunately, escapes can’t protect us from suffering forever, they just make us miss the meaning that can be found by embracing the whole of life.
I have always been a devout coward and have used many escapes over the years.
But finally, I began to realize that the greatest suffering would be to get to the end of my life and realize that I had missed the point.