Cal  Thomas

In the latest culture war battle, the Ten Commandments have reached the Supreme Court.

One federal court has ruled that displaying the 10 standards God requires in order to be declared righteous is constitutional because it is part of this country's legal heritage. Another federal court has ordered them removed from public property because their message implies a government endorsement of religion. The justices will decide whether displaying the commandments in government buildings is constitutionally "kosher."

There are some amusing things about this case. First, it is a group of conservative Christians behind the effort. Not many, if any, Jewish groups are petitioning government for this right, even though the Ten Commandments are uniquely Jewish. Moses was Jewish, and the Ten Commandments preceded all of the other laws that followed.

No human has ever obeyed them all. That's why the ancient Israelites had to slaughter so many animals and offer blood and other offerings (grain, fellowship and "wave" among them) and once a year slaughter the Passover lamb to atone for their sin (for younger readers, sin was our condition before we became dysfunctional).

Christians, who sometimes seem so bellicose about these things, believe Jesus Christ fulfilled every one of the Ten Commandments and thus became the perfect "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). Christians also believe "a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ" (Galatians 2:16) and "all who rely on observing the law are under a curse" (Galatians 3:10). They believe anyone who wishes to be judged by the law falls short and is condemned.

If Christians believe such things, why would they "settle" for the posting of the Ten Commandments through which they believe no one can be saved? Why not lobby for the display of their favorite verse: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16)? The display of that verse on public property would surely be ruled unconstitutional, but at least Christians would be consistent with what they actually believe.

What puzzles me is the extent to which those who want government to endorse their faith seem ready to compromise their true beliefs in order to receive an honorable mention from the state.

Cal Thomas

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Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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