The short child-friendly version of the DO NOT commandments:
—Do not hurt anyone
—Do not lie
—Do not try to take others’ toys or belongings
—Do not feel bad because it seems like others have more than you do
—Do not use bad language or use God’s name in an angry way
The short child-friendly version of the DO commandments:
—Obey your parents
—Say your prayers
—Remember that God loves you
Children probably don’t need to be told not to commit adultery, at least not (thank goodness) in their early years. And they probably needn’t be told not to make idols or pray to them, since many parents place pictures or statues of angels, Jesus, their favorite holy person or some “sacred” item, in the child’s room — for comfort and a reminder that they are not alone in this world or in their room because God in some way is watching over them — and that particular admonition might confuse them. Besides, if the child is taught to pray, the child would certainly not think he was praying to a picture or a statue! One would never want to spoil that growing love and expression of love in a little child. Hopefully anyone in charge of that child would not impose the literal and heavy-handed-sounding restriction on a child to not even look at something that reminds him of the God he knows and loves.
Adults, of course, get the more direct list of Do’s and Don’ts as found in the Bible’s Ten Commandments, although most people know them in the abbreviated version — which, quite frankly, makes them easier to grasp, especially in today’s world.
For example, the second and fourth commandments in that abbreviated version are:
(2) You shall not make idols
(4) Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy
However, here they are in the un-abbreviated form:
(2) “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
(4) “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the
Sabbath day and hallowed it.
Other commandments do not have a long version, since they are right to the point, but the last commandment, again, elaborates a bit, just in case anyone didn’t know what “covet” meant: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor
anything that is your neighbor’s.”
Although times have changed and customs have changed — many people today must work on “the Sabbath” — some people think that religion should never change. That is not to say that we should do away with Do not murder, Do not lie, Do not steal, etc., but it is to say that since people have been breaking the commandments ever since they were
handed down (lying, cheating, stealing, coveting, and the like), perhaps they just didn’t get the point. The point is, how are people to live the best way they can (which logically means according to the way the Creator knows is best, since he created us), and that can be a problem with some religions that hold onto the literal interpretations
of things that may have worked for a certain people at a certain time, but do not seem to work today.
Jesus updated all the old commandments with just one new commandment that seems to capture the essence of what all people need to be taught: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. Would you want to be murdered? Then do not murder another. Would you want someone to steal your money or your belongings? Then do not steal from others. Would you want someone to lie about you? Then do not lie about others. And so on.
Among the many things I like about Jesus is his simplicity. He had a way of making life easier by reducing all the things we had to do or not do down to that one basic Golden Rule. And regarding religious beliefs, again, he made it so simple: He taught the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. God is our Father, we are his children.
Therefore, we are all brothers and sisters. A global family. How hard is that?
It is not believing that, that causes the problems. It’s thinking we’re better or above the Golden Rule that lets us lie, cheat or steal from others — as might Corporate America, or any individual who discounts another to advance his own cause.
I started out to write about how children might view the Ten Commandments and how that might color their beliefs in later life, but I think the more important point is that the more adults get away from their childlike innocence, the more they need to reevaluate the Golden Rule in everything they do.