I remember about a couple of years ago a homily that I heard from one of the deacons in my husband’s church (I’m Eastern Orthodox, he's Catholic and converting to my church). The Gospel reading was on the Rich Young Man (Luke 18:18-30). As a synopsis, the rich young man went to Jesus and wanted to know what he should do to inherit eternal life. Jesus’ response was to follow the 10 Commandments. Jesus also told him that he lacked one thing, and that was he could sell everything he had, give to the poor, and follow Him. The rich man just walked away sadly. Jesus made His famous quote, “Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Luke 18:25)
The deacon made the whimsical comment that you could pretty much be a couch potato and still follow the 10 Commandments. Well I suppose this could be true, but the upshot is that Jesus wants us to do more than just sit around. We’re supposed to act on our faith.
After some thought and discussion with my husband (we sometimes have some deep theological and philosophical discussions), I realized that the 10 Commandments is just not for individuals, but presents us with a basic framework for a stable society. After all, a society would be in chaos if people are lying, stealing, murdering, committing adultery, etc. Just look at what’s going on in our society right now and even in some of our cities and you’ll see what I mean. It’s gotten to the point that you can’t tell what is really true and what isn’t, or even what’s really going on. The violation of any of the 10 Commandments creates a very, very serious situation that can have far reaching consequences.
In my opinion when one commandment is broken, it’s not necessarily broken in isolation of the others. There’s sometimes more going on. Take for example, adultery. (I have first hand experience with this one – my ex-husband was chronically unfaithful to me.) Make no mistake - this is frequently much more than just having sex with someone who’s not your spouse. There can also be a significant amount of lying and theft involved. The lying can involve everything from deceiving the unsuspecting spouse to outright gaslighting. That is, innocent spouse knows something is amiss, but the unfaithful one tells them otherwise and goes so far to accuse them of being crazy. Take it from experience - this can rock the very foundations of one’s sanity.
As for theft, the unfaithful spouse can and frequently takes money and other resources that are rightfully marital property and uses them for the illicit affair. This can also include intangibles such as time and attention. Sometimes it can be quite substantial and interestingly enough, many people have said that it was the acts of lying and theft that were actually the most destructive. So we’re already up to three Commandments that have been violated. And don’t forget coveting your neighbor's spouse is probably also involved. Now we’re up to four Commandments. Not to mention that infidelity can also expose the innocent spouse to STIs. It creates a very, very serious situation that can damage the mental and physical health of the innocent spouse.
Another way of looking at the 10 Commandments is that the first three have to do directly with our relationship with God. The other seven have to do with our relationship with each other. Therefore we can conclude that unless we have a right relationship with each other, we simply cannot have a right relationship with God.
Thanks for reading.