It is a funny thing, when you think about it. Some of the best known commandments are also some of the most badly abused.
Let me explain what I mean…
We all know that the commandment to honor our parents has been taken advantage of by far too many parents who use it as an opportunity to dominate their children, rather than caring for them the way they are supposed to.
The commandment not to murder has been so focused on in this way or that, limiting it to physical bloodshed, that we have completely lost sight of the immense damage we humans have wrought upon one another though hatred and malice, just as Jesus said we would.
And this weekend’s commandment, the one about adultery, has been so often associated with divorce, as a mandate making divorce the “ultimate sin,” that it has done untold amounts of destruction to bodies, relationships, and souls.
First, there is no “ultimate sin.” Period.
Second, there are some very valid reasons for marriages to end and Jesus taught us not to judge. There is always more going on than we understand.
And third, most importantly, there is far more to adultery than simply relating to the need for a marriage to end. We are going to talk about those nuances on Sunday.
What I want us to think about today, however, is something far more insidious than just the breaking of these individual commandments.
It is the ways we so willingly and gladly turn the scriptures into a weapon against one another. To hold them over each other’s heads. To vehemently wield them as a way to crush another’s heart and soul and make ourselves feel better.
Make no mistake: it is not just regular people of faith who do this, but also those in leadership roles. And it is sickening.
My colleague, Amy Butler, once said, “Anytime the Bible is quoted to defend behavior that is not motivated by the law of love, something is wrong.” That goes for anytime we quote the Bible and are not motivated by the law of love, too.
Why? Because the law of love is what Jesus himself laid down. And then gave his life for.
That is the law we follow.
The commandments are meant to follow in love’s wake. Not the other way around.
So, come this weekend as we talk about disloyalty, oath-breaking, and, yes, adultery, when we take on the seventh commandment. This one isn’t just for teenagers. There’s a lesson there for all of us.
Blessings, Pastor Janie