Ramming the Ten Commandments: A Prophetic Picture of America

We must recapture the life-giving beauty of God’s laws in our own lives. That is our only hope.

A 6-foot-tall privately funded Ten Commandments monument is seen on the Arkansas Capitol grounds in Little Rock on Tuesday, June 27, 2017, after it was installed by workers two years after lawmakers approved a measure allowing the statue on state property. On Wednesday, June 28, 2017, Michael Tate Reed rammed his vehicle into the statue, knocking it down and breaking it.

By Michael Brown Published on June 29, 2017

It was the act of only one man who drove his vehicle into a Ten Commandments monument in Arkansas, but it reflected the sentiments of a growing number of Americans: “We do not want the Ten Commandments in our midst, nor do we want the God of the Ten Commandments in our midst.” In that sense, the destructive act of this individual reflected the attitude of tens of millions of Americans. This is not simply a decreased interest in the Bible and the God of the Bible. This is outright rebellion. It sounds like this:

Enough with God’s laws and standards. Enough with His moral principles. Enough with His prohibitions of idolatry and adultery and murder.

We will do what we want to do, when we want to do it, and no law — or God — will tell us otherwise.

The America we want must have no connection to its Judeo-Christian roots. No connection to the moral values of many of its Founders. No connection to the Scriptures which so influenced their thinking.

We will worship created things more than the Creator. We will be full of covetousness and greed. We want our idolatry.

We will have sex with whomever we want to, whenever we want to, however we want to. And if we so desire, we will call these relationships “marriage,” and neither God nor man will tell us anything different. We want our adultery.

We will kill our babies in the womb if we so choose, and anyone who defies our wishes will be trampled with derision and scorn. We want our murder.

Yes, we will do what we want to do when we want to do it. We declare ourselves free.

Apart From God’s Laws, There is Bondage, Not Freedom

Ironically, the man in question, Michael Tate Reed allegedly yelled “Freedom!” as he crashed into the Ten Commandments monument less than 24 hours after it was erected. He live streamed on Facebook as he drove onto the Arkansas statehouse lawn. (He was previously charged with a similar attack on a Ten Commandments monument in Oklahoma in 2014.)

The more we depart from God’s laws, the more we find ourselves in bondage

In truth, the more we depart from God’s laws, the more we find ourselves in bondage. Rather than shouting “Freedom,” Reed should have shouted, “Bondage! Self-destruction! Captivity! Decline!”

Reed claimed that such monuments violate the separation of church and state. That phrase is not found in the Constitution (something that seems to have escaped Justice Sotomayor this week). More importantly, the phrase means the opposite of what Reed envisions.

The so-called wall of separation was there to keep the state out of the Church, not the Church out of the state. And the idea that having a public Ten Commandments display would violate American principles would be alien to our Founders.

The Bible’s Role in Early America

While researching my upcoming book, Saving a Sick America: A Prescription for Moral and Cultural Reformation, I was struck by how big a role the Bible played in early American education, from the colonies to the late 1800’s. I was also struck by how deeply biblical principles influenced our Founders, even though they did not want America to be a theocracy.

They were not trying to impose the biblical faith on the nation (which included plenty of irreligious people, even back then). Nor were they trying to impose biblical morality on the populace by judicial decree. Instead, many of the Founders were convinced that the Bible was filled with practical wisdom and that God’s commands brought life, not death. To the extent we would embrace these principles as a democratic republic, the better.

Consider this extraordinary quote from our second president, John Adams:

Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their only law book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited. Every member would be obliged in conscience to temperance and frugality and industry, to justice and kindness and charity towards his fellow men, and to piety and love, and reverence towards Almighty God. In this commonwealth, no man would impair his health by gluttony, drunkenness, or lust — no man would sacrifice his most precious time to cards, or any other trifling and mean amusement — no man would steal or rile or any way defraud his neighbor, but would live in peace and good will with all men — no man would blaspheme his maker or profane his worship, but a rational and manly, a sincere and unaffected piety and devotion would reign in all hearts. What a utopia, what a paradise would this region be.” (This quote, along with those that follow, is found in Saving a Sick America, with attribution.)

We Need God’s Life-Giving Commandments

Today we are told that the Bible is an evil book and the God of the Bible an evil, bigoted, petty tyrant. Such tyrants deserve our scorn. That is that attitude aflame in many American hearts today.

Samuel Adams, one of the leaders of the American Revolution, had a sharply different view. Adams stated that the rights of the colonists “may be best understood by reading and carefully studying the institutes of the great Law-giver and head of the Christian Church [Jesus], which are to be found clearly written and promulgated in the New Testament.”

Because of that, Adams could say:

A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they can not be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue they will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader.

Michael Reed not only represents that “general dissolution of principles and manners.” He articulates it in a full, frontal assault, thereby speaking for millions of Americans.

We do best to quickly re-erect that Ten Commandments monument. And, more importantly, recapture the life-giving beauty of God’s commandments in our own hearts and lives. That is the only hope of our nation.

Print Friendly
Comments ()
The Stream encourages comments, whether in agreement with the article or not. However, comments that violate our commenting rules or terms of use will be removed. Any commenter who repeatedly violates these rules and terms of use will be blocked from commenting. Comments on The Stream are hosted by Disqus, with logins available through Disqus, Facebook, Twitter or G+ accounts. You must log in to comment. Please flag any comments you see breaking the rules. More detail is available here.
  • Paul

    Michael, the SCOTUS just ran a truck over the 2nd Amendment, where is your outrage?

  • Gary

    The entire world, not just the USA, has the same attitude. This was prophesied in the Bible. We are in the last days of history. God will soon bring all this to an end. The enemies of God will get their wish, in a way; they will be free from the presence of God, forever.

    • eddiestardust

      Soon is a relative word, to God, it’s an instant, to man it may be many, many years.

      • Gary

        Maybe. But I don’t think it will be very long.

        • davidk

          Sincere question. Is there a time, beyond which you would rethink “soon?”

          • Gary

            I thought it would have already happened. And I’m disappointed it has not. I think “soon” to me would be a few years. If its more than 7, I would not consider that to be soon.

          • davidk

            I ask because, my parents were married on the day Israel became a sovereign State. They had five children; one is now deceased.

            The premill teaching to which I was earlier in my life exposed said Jesus would return within a generation from when Israel became a State. The oldest child is now 68; the youngest, 62.

            I know there are several different understandings on that, but with most of them, the clock has either run out or is about to run out.

            BTW, I hold to partial preterism. I am still studying to get it nailed down in my mind, but Jesus did say to his disciples, “This generation …” (Matt. 24:34) which certainly appears that Jesus meant their generation.

          • Kevin Quillen

            David, on the significance of the rebirth of Israel; Eph 2:14-16 tells me that the Jews no longer exist. Or rather we are all Israel now. We were grafted in and are children of Abraham. Modern Israel means nothing, just another country. Just an interesting point I use on dispensationalist………if God gave Israel their land back in 1948, why did He not not give them all the land that was Israel in ancient times? It is tiny compared to then.

          • davidk

            That is a good question. And people do start squirming when you point out that Israel is just another country. I tell them that Israel is a good ally but nothing more.

            Two of my favorite authors, John Stott and Jacques Ellul, were universalists. I see the arguments, but as much as I wish it is true, I think the evidence points to the traditional understanding.

            I am, however, in the free grace camp. I had leaned that way (quietly), but after reading Lybrand’s Back to Faith I am solidly there.

            Don Preston makes a good case for full preterism. I’m just not there yet. Over the next year I want to work out a full apologetic for my eschatological understanding. I want to anticipate people’s “But what about …” questions and have a ready answer.

            The consequences of an erroneous eschatology are much more serious than premills realize.

          • Kevin Quillen

            Preston is a very good source. Also try the Preterist Archive.

          • davidk

            Got it bookmarked. :]

          • Kevin Quillen

            David, I landed at Full Preterism. Actually I am Pantelist. Combo of Full Preterism and Christian Universalism. Enjoy the ride.

          • Kevin Quillen

            you are disappointed that one third of the earths population will not be killed? Think it through Gary. The “last days” are long past. Gary, where in Matt 24 does the audience change from the first century hearers to us? Matt 24:34 says that “this generation” will see…….
            Research J N Darby and the Scofield Bible of 1909. There will you find the truth. Rapture and common end time scenarios is a modern concoction, and actually quite silly.

  • davidk

    Christians are no longer under the Law. Jesus gave us just two commandments to govern our decisions.

    If you name the Name of Christ you have entered the Sabbath Rest. Cease your striving and enjoy the freedom found in our Savior.

    • Aliquantillus

      Not true. The two commandments that together constitute the “Great Commandment” are a summary of the purpose of the Law, not a replacement of its detailed commandments. Neither is it true that these two commandments were given by Christ. They were given in the Law of Moses, and Christ merely pointed to their importance.

      The commandment to love God above all things was given in Deuteronomy 6:4-5: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might”. The commandment to love one’s neighbour as oneself was given in Leviticus 19:18: “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord”.

      In later Jewish tradition these two were considered as the most important and all-overriding injunctions of the Law, and the Pharisees already termed them the “Great Commandment”, as is clear from the exchange between Jesus and the Pharisees in Matthew 22:34-40.

      Freedom in the NT is not freedom from God’s law, but freedom from the dominance of sin, a freedom expressed in faithful obedience to the Law, by a heart cleansed by the blood of Christ. Lawless “love” is no love at all.

      • davidk

        “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. “~Jesus

        • Tigdi

          Is it loving to kill one another?

      • davidk

        ” which is a nonnegatioble condition,”

        So you don’t believe in salvation by faith alone?

        • Andrew Mason

          I’m not Aliquantillus but perhaps he (she?) sees the situation as a tad more complicated. Yes Christians are saved by faith alone BUT Christians seek to honour God with their lives which means adhering to the moral law of the OT. To use a simple example, if you claim to believe in God but regularly commit murder, isn’t there a conflict between what you say and do?

          • davidk

            Paul said where sin abounds grace does more abound.

            Another way to phrase your question is, “Can a man be a serial killer and still be a Christian?” I don’t necessarily like this answer, but, Yes.

          • Andrew Mason

            Whereas I would say no because to deliberately continued sinning is a rejection of God’s grace. I accept this isn’t a hard and fast rule – a recent article about a stripper said she became a Christian but continued in her profession until a radical revelation – a Christian came in for a private audience and God gave her a vision of the man’s wife praying at home. She uttered what God revealed to her, the husband in question was … unhappy, and she fled the club never to return to the profession. There’s also the bit about Jesus saying to offer forgiveness 77 times – a metaphor for as many times as needed, but I think there’s a difference between a person who is ignorant of a particular sin (and we’re all very blind), a person who battles with a particular sin, and a person who insists a particular sin is acceptable. The first would ask for forgiveness if they knew, the second does ask for forgiveness and hates what they do -Paul doing what he didn’t want and not what he wanted, and the person who rejects the need for forgiveness or the need to be concerned about it.

          • Tigdi

            That’s not so. Yeshua said “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Murdering someone is hardly showing love toward one’s neighbor nor to the Lord who created life. Only the one who created life can take it away.
            The serial killer could repent of killing, but he cannot claim to follow Christ while continuing to murder.

          • davidk

            So you believe n salvation by works.

      • davidk

        “Lawless ‘love’ is no love at all.”

        A “love”compelled by law is no love at all.

        • Aliquantillus

          Yes it is! Read Deuteronomy 6:4. God commands us to love him. What is behind your opinion is a misguided concept of free will and freedom. In the Bible freedom is never the permission to do as you please. It is instead the responsibility to do freely and out of free will the things you are commanded to do. And the refusal to do so is rebellion.

          True love is taking up your responsibility. An example: A person cannot chose his parents, and yet he is obliged by the divine law to honour, obey and love them. This is the general biblical pattern. If you carefully read the NT you’ll see how many commandments and obligatory instructions there are in the words of Christ and the Epistles of the Apostles, especially Paul.

          Love is never “compelled” by the Law in the sense of physically enforced. It is commanded, which means that it makes an appeal to the human heart because the commandment is the fatherly instruction by God himself, who gives us his instructions because he loves us as his dear children. We are always free to obey or resist his commandments. True obedience follows from a broken heart and mind, illuminated by the Holy Spirit, and from the conviction that we are only creatures that have no independent existence or any say in the matter at all. It results in temporal and eternal blessing. Disobedience reveals a hardened heart and ends in temporal and eternal punishment.

          If a child knows that the commandments of his earthly father are given out of love, there is no problem in obeying them out of love. This is the more true for the commandments given by our Heavenly Father, who knows us through and through.

          • davidk

            I recognize that we should love people sacrificially; that is, to love by our actions people whom we do not like or even people whom we hate.

            But Jesus gave us a new commandment: to love others “Just as I have loved you.” Jesus loves all without effort. He does not love because of a command–He just did. Love is part of His essence. He did not have to strive to love.

            The only way for us to get to that point is abiding in God. “The fruit of the Spirit is love …” As we abide in God, we begin to see people as He sees them: sheep without a Shepherd.

            Th church has a long way to go.

          • Kevin Quillen

            thank you, you are very wise my brother.

          • davidk

            Thank you for the kind words.

      • davidk

        “For because of the Atonement of Christ, God can forgive us even those
        sins for which no provision of forgiveness was given in the Law, as Paul
        states in Acts 13:39: ‘[…] by him [i.e. Christ] all that believe are
        justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the
        law of Moses'”

        The Law can not justify from any sin.

  • Chris in NC

    This was written some years ago after listening to the news.

    “The time is coming when God says, “O.K.! Since you seem to think you know better how to run the world than I do — go ahead, have at it. Knock yourselves out. I will withdraw My Spirit and remove My Church and leave you with your own personal, private individual gods.
    “You profess great faith in your ability to solve all the problems of mankind by tour own will and knowledge. But you are about to learn just how much of man’s knowledge really is his own.”

    The time is at hand when God is going to say ‘Enough’. Then, in the twinkling of an eye many will realize that they aren’t nearly as smart as they imagined.

    closer every day

  • Thomas

    Typo in quotation:

    It should be internal Invader, not eternal invader.

    Full quotation:

    A general Dissolution of Principles & Manners will more surely overthrow the Liberties of America than the whole Force of the Common Enemy. While the People are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their Virtue they will be ready to surrender their Liberties to the first external or internal Invader. How necessary then is it for those who are determin’d to transmit the Blessings of Liberty as a fair Inheritance to Posterity, to associate on publick Principles in Support of publick Virtue.
    Letter to James Warren (12 February 1779)

  • CraigB

    Michael Reed was reportedly diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder after the Oklahoma case. I think Mr Reed speaks for mental troubled Americans.

Inspiration
A Christian ‘Opposite’ Strategy for Making a Difference
Tom Gilson
More from The Stream
Connect with Us