By Linda Tancs

Writer and poet Khalil Gibran once wrote that we kneel only to truth, follow only beauty and obey only love. That’s pretty much the foundation for the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17). Those rules illustrate our ideal relationship with God (verses 3 through 11) as well as our relationship with others (verses 12 through 17).

Have you ever wondered why so many are written as negative injunctions (thou shalt not) rather than positive ones (thou shalt)? The discipline of social psychology did not yet exist, but the basis for the commandments’ efficacy may lie there. According to some scientists, we judge the violation of a “shalt not” more harshly than the failure to observe a “shalt.” So for the sake of an ordered society, we probably need more “shalt nots” in the form of proscriptions against theft, murder and deception as dictated in the commandments. And for the sake of our relationship with God, we need proscriptions against idolatry and defamation to define, develop and enhance our relationship with Him. Regardless of the form of the injunction, though, we learn through the Ten Commandments to love God and love His children, something Jesus would later say sums up all of the law and the prophets (Matthew 22:35-40).

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