A little note here-I know I missed the Fifth. Upon consideration, I think it may have been one of those happy accidents. I plan to address it after the Tenth.
Also, this post will be posted 1st May 2006, but is being written on the evening of 30th April, 2006.
Which means, we will not tell lies about our neighbour-especially if the lie will get us something of their's that we covet. (More about coveting in the last...)
I've never had trouble with this one even with all it's shades of grey; the Ninth commandment seems so simple and straight forward. We won't take anything that is not ours.
But like the ones before it, it has depths literalists miss.
Just before, and I do mean just before, he died, a man requested me to come and speak with him about a terrible theft he and his family endured nearly twenty years before.
His daughter, in her early twenties, had been kidnapped, tortured, raped, and then murdered. Her body was dumped in a roadside ditch like a piece of trash thrown from a car window.
After a long time, a man was caught, convicted, and I believe executed for her murder.
I don't know how I feel about the death penalty. I know innocent people have been executed; I know guilty people have likewise been. I unfortunately know there are people alive in this world who make me think the death penalty is a good idea-men and women so evil, so happily so, that the thought of them breathing is an insult. I've seen crime scenes so overwhelmingly nightmarish in the depth of evil required to commit the crime that had I been the arresting officer there is a chance I might have at least looked the other way while the perp died while trying to escape. That self-knowledge is one of the reasons I knew a law enforcement career would not be a good idea for me to pursue. From what I know of the crime commited against the man's daughter...
He and his family had been in agony for years. Nothing had brought them 'closure.' Nothing.
He wanted to know how God could let this happen to his family. No, he wanted to know why, not how.
He was a bare week from death. I knew it the minute I saw him. but he was lucid, and he was furious in his grief, his heartbreak. I wanted desperately to explain it to him, to give him something that would ease the hurt and anger in his soul.
But all I could tell him was the truth, although I knew it would hurt him more than anything except the loss of his daughter.
He cursed me.
I understood, and do not hold it against him, even now.
Thou shalt not steal. But someone stole his daughter's life...and in that theft, stole the strength, the hearts, and the peace of this family-forever.
Thou shalt not bear false witness. But someone lied to provide an alibi for the man who was convicted and the murderer lied, too, and his lies included claiming the girl was a druggie and a tramp-so not only did he steal her life, he tried to steal her character; he lied to cover what he'd done...
Thou shalt not bear false witness. Yes Lord, we will not bear false witness.
But we do. All the time, and worse-we manipulate others into the position of having to lie so that we can feel OK about continuing to lie about them.
We lie about why we don't have to pay a worker the promised wages; we lie to explain why we didn't do something we promised to do; we lie about who said what and why-we steal their homes, their families, their good names, their property, their peace, and we do it with lies.
We force others to lie for us, with us-my ex-husband held a physical gun to my head in private, in public he held the threat of extreme physical violence "later" if I didn't present a good front for his parents, our neighbours, our son's teachers. I'm not the first, or only, or last to go through that.
"Tell them I'm not here..." Bill collecters, the boss, a 'friend' we are trying to avoid.
We lie, and we teach our children to lie.
And in so doing, we teach them we cannot be trusted.
In so doing, we steal from our own children...who steals from their child-who would take trust, faith, courage, honesty from their child?
The Ten Commandments are so interconnected that when you take the time to really consider them, you realize Jesus was right-break one, break 'em all.