Should the Commandments Be Rewritten?


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By Elder Richard L. Evans | New Era

One thing that has been difficult for me to understand is why people feel it is appropriate to change or amend the commandments in any way, especially to suit modern-day practices.  Commandments have been delivered to us by the Almighty God since the beginning of time.  Times change, but the need for commandments have not.  They apply today just as much as they did back in the days of Adam and Eve.  We have the choice of whether or not to be obedient to the commandments given to us, but we are not in a position to change them to suit our way of life.  

Commandments were written for all of us.  For our guidance and our safety.  We are blessed when we choose to be obedient.  Modifying the commandments and then following them as they have been tailored to our life is not being compliant or faithful.  Commandments are not meant to be tailored to suit our lifestyles. Instead, we would do best to tailor our lifestyles to be obedient to the commandments.  Those who make the conscious choice to follow the commandments to the best of their ability enjoy the blessings of freedom, joy, and peace in their lives.  In my opinion, they live with a clear conscience and are considered some of the stronger individuals for having been able to stand firm in their faith as they draw closer to God by being submissive to Him who created us, loves us, and desires the best for us.  ~Emilia Julian

Who knows better than the Creator and Father of us all what is and isn’t essential?

Perhaps I could begin with an interesting question posed recently and an equally interesting answer. The question was, “Don’t you think the commandments should be rewritten?” The answer was, “No, they should be reread.”

This may be a good point from which to take off for consideration of some fundamental facts; namely, the commandments of God are there. They come from a divine source. The experience of the ages has proved the need for them, and has proved what happens if they are ignored.

So why spend life in the frustration and unhappiness and sorrow and tragedy of trying to rationalize and wave them away?

Beginning with the Ten Commandments may be as good a place as any. It would be well to read and reread them and not spend life trying to convince ourselves that they really don’t mean what they say.

Some things the commandments say thou shalt not do, and if that is what they say, that’s what they mean, and there’s a reason for it.

Some of them say this you should do, and there’s a reason for it.

It would be interesting some time to make a list of what our Father in heaven tells us to do and what he tells us not to do. Any parent is faced with the same situation. Any doctor is faced with the same situation.

Essentially this is what the gospel is: counsel from a living Father who says to his children, “You have limitless, everlasting possibilities. You also have your freedom. It’s up to you how you use it. This is what you can become if you take my advice—and this is what will happen if you don’t. The choice is yours.”

We all make choices every day. We all have to live with the results of the choices we make.

It’s just that plain. It isn’t a question of quibbling or hairsplitting or arguing about the mysteries or brooding about the things God hasn’t yet told us, while neglecting the things he has told us. Let’s stop quarreling with the commandments and the requirements and just face the facts.

Who knows better than the Creator and Father of us all what is and isn’t essential?

Brilliant men, philosophers and others, have wrestled with these questions through the centuries, and haven’t arrived at any answers they can agree on among themselves.

I have a great respect for scholarship, for education and research, for academic excellence, and for the magnificent accomplishments of sincere and searching men. But I also have great respect for the word of God, and his prophets, and life’s purpose; and it comes to a question of where to place our trust.

I have been privileged to know some of the ablest men on earth—men of many faiths, many professions, many accomplishments, in nearly 150 countries. But I’ve never known a man who knew enough so that I was willing to trust him with my everlasting life.

Sometimes people quibble about the meaning of scripture and rationalize and justify themselves in doing things they well know they shouldn’t do. They sometimes say, for example, that “Thou shalt not commit adultery” doesn’t include all the other kinds and degrees of immoral sins and perversions, or that the Word of Wisdom, for example, doesn’t catalogue all the substances and brand names and all the products and dope and harmful things that have been discovered or concocted that are not good for men.

Obviously, all of them couldn’t be catalogued. In the words of King Benjamin: “And finally, I cannot tell you all the things whereby ye may commit sin; for there are divers ways and means, even so many that I cannot number them.” (Mosiah 4:29.)

The Lord expects us to use wisdom and common sense and not quibble about what obviously isn’t good for the body or mind or spirit or morals of man. And before doing or partaking of anything, stop and ask honestly, “Does this contribute to health? Does it contribute to happiness? Would this please God? Will this bless and benefit me and others, or does .it drag me down? Is it good or isn’t it?”

It doesn’t matter what people call things. It matters what they are—what they do. If I may modify Shakespeare considerably: Anything by any name will still be what it is and will still do what it does no matter what you call it.

And if anyone doubts that all forms of moral infraction and perversion are not condemned by scripture, may we assure you that there are scriptures that could be cited for you that prohibit all evils, all impurities and perversions, all uncleanness and excesses, all unwise habits and unbecoming conduct.

Why quibble? Why not simply accept the facts and be honest with ourselves?

“… fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” (Eccl. 12:13.)

“If ye love me,” said our Savior, “keep my commandments.” (John 14:15.)

But we ought also to keep the commandments simply as a favor to ourselves.

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