Relationship of Ten Commandments to Character
by Ron Kurtus (revised 7 Januaryr 2012)
The Ten Commandments consist of a set of principles from the Judeo-Christian Bible that concern both spiritual worship and dealing with others in a respectful manner. People who follow or adhere to the commandments are considered to have many of the traits related to good character.
Since the Ten Commandments are religious laws, they are classified as adherence character rules. The first four commandments relate to spiritual issues, and the follow six commandments concern social character rules.
The Ten Commandments are not complete in dictating or suggesting the behavior of a good or admirable person. There are personal character traits that should be considered in the commandments but are left out.
Questions you may have on this are:
- Which commandments relate to spiritual worship?
- Which commandments relate how to deal with others?
- Do you have to be of a particular religion to have good character?
This lesson will answer those questions.
The first four commandments included in the Biblical 10 Commandments concern spiritual issues or rules of the religion.
They can be paraphrased as:
- You shall not worship any other god
- You shall not make any likeness of another god
- You shall not take the name of your God in vain
- Rest on the seventh day of the week and keep it holy
Poor adherence character
Members of the religion who disobey or break these spiritual rules are considered to have poor character and may even be punished or banished from the religion.
Commandments 5 through 10 concern how you deal with other people. They can be summarized in the Golden Rule: "Do unto others, as they would have you do unto them."
- Honor your parents
- Don't kill or harm others
- Don't commit adultery
- Don't steal from others
- Don't say lies or bad things about others
- Don't covet or be jealous about others' property or relationships
Interestingly, only one commandment tells you what to do, while the other five tell what not to do.
Coveting rule seems a combination
The commandment concerning being jealous or coveting what someone else has seems to be a combination of several items. Coveting may lead to scheming, stealing, or even killing to get what you want.
Honoring parents is important
The commandment on honoring your parents relates to having strong family values, as well as respecting your elders and even your leaders.
Likewise, the commandment against adultery also emphasizes family values, as well as leading a moral life.
Commandments and character
Being a person of high character means you are honest, moral, caring and courageous. Lacking in one of these areas does not mean you are a bad person, but it can be considered a character flaw.
The Ten Commandments provide religious and social rules of behavior. Following the Commandments can help a person move toward having good character, but it is not a guarantee. A person can follow these commandments but yet not be compassionate or courageous.
Going beyond the Ten Commandments
Although the 10 Commandments provide a good basis for being considered of high character, there are other traits that go beyond these commandments.
Being reliable and conscientious are two examples of admirable character traits that go beyond the Ten Commandments.
These commandments also concern the relationship to God and to other people. A person may not bear false witness against someone else, but if he lies about his skills or achievements, his character is not very admirable.
Likewise, a person who follows the Ten Commandments but yet gambles excessively and abuses him- or herself with drugs or alcohol, cannot be considered admirable.
Being determined, courageous or brave are admirable traits that give a person points in having high character.
The Ten Commandments consist of a set of principles that concern both spiritual worship and dealing with others in a respectful manner
The first four commandments are concerned with belief in God. The other six concern "doing unto others as you would have them do unto you." Following the Ten Commandments is important in character, but there are also other traits such as reliability and courage that a person needs to truly have good character.
Go beyond the Golden Rule
Resources and references
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Relationship of Ten Commandments to Character