The Commandments and the Restoration of Civilization – Catholic World Report

A statue of Moses holding the tablets of the Ten Commandments, part of an architectural detail on a downtown Los Angeles courthouse. (Image: Levi Meir Clancy/

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Mt 10:34). The bloodshed and pain of a sword – metaphorical or literal – is unpleasant. Divine revelation evaluates and charges each person and each culture. GK Chesterton observes: “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him. A compelling national interest includes the protection of civilization.

A culture describes commonly accepted community patterns of behavior, conscious or unconscious. One or more cultures constitute a civilization and each society has identifiable dominant characteristics.

A Christian civilization based on the Ten Commandments – the greatest being to love God and neighbor (Mt 22:36ff) – requires our conscience and our free cooperation. The law of God measures all human actions and institutions and calls us to reform. The precepts relevant to our purposes parallel the Ten Commandments.

First Three Commandments:

  • Reverently worship the one God by inculcating the virtuous pattern for all forms of reverence.

Fourth Commandment:

  • Respect the legitimate authority of the family and love the country patriotically.
  • Respect national boundaries as extensions of family boundaries.

Fifth Commandment:

  • Control anger and hatred, fight just wars and do not kill.
  • Recognize the compatibility of science and empirical method with religion.
  • Hates abortion, euthanasia, genocide, well-defined racism, etc.

Sixth and Ninth Commandments:

  • Honor marriage (one man and one woman), hate divorce, pornography and illicit sexual behavior.

The Seventh and Tenth Commandments:

  • Respect private property and refuse to make excessive welfare demands on the government.
  • Establish godly charities that care for the poor.
  • Renounce greed in all its forms.
  • Respect the rule of law and pay fair taxes.

The Eighth Commandment:

  • Recognize and respect the authentic meaning of words.
  • Define a lie as a statement that intentionally does not coincide with objective reality.
  • Respect the privacy and reputation of others.
  • Celebrate human freedom created in the image and likeness of God.

The whole world needs a redemptive culture, examining itself in the light of Revelation.

Our traditional American culture – derived from Christian civilization – is historically exceptional and worth defending: one nation under God and the rule of the Constitution. But the widespread rejection of the Ten Commandments has dangerously degraded our civilization.

The existing structure of civilization is traditional, rooted in Christianity, but a fading shadow of it. Here is an overview of the central cultural attributes – some good, some bad – roughly in the order of the Ten Commandments:

Shadows of the first three commandments:

  • Worship God and attend churches and synagogues.

Shadows of the Fourth Commandment:

  • Emphasize individual rights and the centrality of the family.
  • Reject the social engineering of the “Great Society” legacy and its destructive effects on the family.
  • Promote the freedom of family businesses and small businesses.
  • Consider the American flag a sign of patriotic honor.
  • Support border control to maintain social stability and family security.
  • Use limited government spending to buy blocks of voters, but fear massive government spending will cripple the economy.
  • Oppose excessive government regulation.
  • As a general rule, respect the rule of law and – albeit with a vague understanding – the Constitution.

Shadows of the Fifth Commandment:

  • Vote pro-life, with several inconsistent exceptions.
  • Avoid thinking about developing drugs from aborted embryonic tissue.
  • Tolerate “same-sex marriage”, cross-dressing and genital mutilation for adults, but oppose the exploitation of minors.
  • Generally confident of health authorities but increasingly suspicious of the need and safety of vaccines (autism, allergies and heart failure).
  • Notice and appreciate ethnic differences and especially avoid vicious remarks, but enjoy robust and playful ethnic jokes.
  • Proudly support the right to self-defense and the Second Amendment.
  • Supporting most foreign military interventions, but quickly tired of inevitable mission drift, overspending, and lack of an exit policy.
  • Realize that congressional declarations of war are ideal, but nervously hope that various congressional authorizations will provide the necessary authority.

Shadows of the Sixth and Ninth Commandments:

  • Maintain traditional marriage but allow easy divorce.
  • Live and let live as it relates to adult behavior in marriage, family and education.
  • Believing that it is possible to limit adult debauchery and protect young people, but unable to prevent lewd excesses with children.

Shadows of the Seventh and Tenth Commandments:

  • Generally defer to scientific experts with emerging doubts about human-induced climate change
  • Allow the IRS to determine charity and supplement agencies with private donations.

Shadows of the Eighth Commandment:

  • Strive for honesty and principle, but bend principle when compelling personal interests demand it.
  • Argue well and respectfully.

Despite the flaws, this traditional structure partially recognizes the Ten Commandments and, on the whole, deserves to be purified and defended.

A competing secular and politically correct civilization has also formed over the past fifty years. The September 1 speech by President Biden in Philadelphia is a major and culturally significant event. Its masters reinforce the striking contrast between our centuries-old but wounded civilization and modern totalitarian secularism. Here is the vision – a decadent brave new world versus the declining alternative – roughly in the order of the Ten Commandments:

Replace the first three commandments:

  • Reject the supremacy of God and “organized religion”.

Replacement of the Fourth Commandment:

  • Use centralized governmental authority to undermine family and individual rights.
  • Aim for ideological control of all American institutions: government, academia, Hollywood, the media, the Internet, and public schools.
  • Undermining the authority of parents by invoking the expertise of academics and atheist elites to solve all social problems.
  • Fostering the dominance of technological, pharmaceutical and military oligarchs, and viewing citizens as cogs in the machinery of government and industry.
  • View the American flag as racist, but sometimes acknowledge its use as an accessory.
  • Using open borders to undermine social stability and promote electoral fraud.
  • Using massive government spending to buy off blocks of voters, destabilize the economy with inflation, and introduce increasing doses of socialism.
  • Use government regulations as an indispensable method of social control.
  • Disproportionately apply harsh laws in support of politically correct precepts.

Replace the Fifth Commandment:

  • Promote unrestricted abortion as a human right.
  • Cover up unethical scientific experimentation that advances useful medical products and procedures.
  • Celebrate almost all forms of obscenity in the name of “diversity, equity and inclusion”.
  • Redefine science with often dubious statistics and obey health bureaucrats without question.
  • Wildly expanding the definition of “racism” that silences all humor but uses racial and gender profiles for employment (especially in the military).
  • Outlawing gun ownership, relying on the federal police state to impose elitist views on prominent dissidents, and redefining terrorism to include political opponents.
  • Follow Hollywood’s good weather for all foreign appearances.
  • Think of a congressional declaration of war as a completely irrelevant relic of World War II.

Replace the Sixth and Ninth Commandments:

  • Marginalize marriage by expanding the definition of marriage.
  • Claim oppressed minority status even as laws succumb to all LGBTQ demands.
  • Celebrate almost all forms of obscenity in the name of “diversity, equity and inclusion”.

Replacement of the seventh and tenth commandments:

  • Reject those who question the scientific basis of man-made “climate change” or reject certain vaccines on moral grounds as science deniers.
  • Expect taxpayers to fund so-called charities like PBS and Planned Parenthood, and expect well-funded government agencies to do charitable work.

Replacement of the Eighth Commandment:

  • Redefine the meaning of words, apply the law unevenly, and use lies as your rhetorical weapon of choice.
  • Cancel or de-platform opposing viewpoints.
  • Label any statement that contradicts the story as a “conspiracy theory.”

These elements form the totalitarian tapestry – or forest – of secular, politically correct civilization. The components distort, distort and entirely replace the declining culture and eclipse the Ten Commandments. Distracted by the trees, we do not see the forest. Many of us have become unwitting cultural cogs, blindly doing our part to turn bureaucratic engines. This Christian critique of our civilization even determines whether our nation has the right to send its sons (and daughters) into battle to defend the country. A cancerous culture threatens our national survival.

We must ask ourselves and consider: why has their outmoded understanding of civilization gained so much ground?

But we must also go back to the Christian bases for self-assessment. And ask yourself: Do we know the Ten Commandments? And do our children and grandchildren know them? Ask sincerely, do the newly created cardinals know the Ten Commandments? Is there a will to respect them until bloodshed (hence the red hat)? Otherwise, they and we are part of the problem, and our children are sheep to be slaughtered.

Jesus is the sword that drives a Christian civilization forward. The Ten Commandments form His order of battle. “Take to heart these words that I command you today. Drill them into your children. Speak about it at home and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest” (Dt 6, 6-77, NAB).

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