My Answer: Do the Ten Commandments still matter?

Q: I don't agree with people who say some things are always right and other things are always wrong. Why should I? We need to make our own decisions about what's right or wrong, and not worry about an outdated moral code like the Ten Commandments. — J.H.

A: Whenever people say they don't think the Ten Commandments are of any use today, I often wonder if they've ever actually read them, because if they did, they might change their minds. (You can read them in Exodus 20 or Deuteronomy 5.)

The Ten Commandments are divided into two parts. The first commandments deal with our responsibilities toward God, while the second group deals with our responsibilities toward others.

But even if you ignored the first group (which I certainly don't advise you to do), which of those in the second group would you dismiss? The one forbidding murder, or stealing, or lying or greed (covetousness)? How about the one advocating treating others with respect (especially parents)? No, all those are important, and without them society falls apart.

I omitted one, however, and from what you say elsewhere in your letter I suspect it's your real problem. It's the commandment dealing with sexual purity, and you admit you don't want to follow it. But God knew what he was doing when he included it, because we ignore it at our peril. It gives stability to our lives and our families, as well as society.

The real issue, however, is this: What place should God have in your life? God made you, and he loves you and knows what is best for you.

Jesus' warning is true: "Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction" (Matthew 7:13). Don't go down that road, tempting as it is, but commit your life to Christ and build your life on him.


Q: Our pastor is always praying for our nation and our leaders and things like that, but does it honestly do any good? I can't see that we're any better off today than we were 50 or 100 years ago, and in some ways we're probably worse. — Mrs. S.F.

A: You're probably right; in some ways our society and our world are worse off than they were 50 or 100 years ago.

Not that those days were perfect because they definitely weren't. A hundred years ago, for instance, the world was on the brink of a horrific war that would kill or maim millions. But today's headlines certainly indicate that we're seeing an upswing in violence and an alarming decline in morals.

I can't help but wonder if we're now living in the days of which the Bible speaks: "People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal ... lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God" (2 Timothy 3:2-4).

But that means we need to pray more, not less. After all, what would the world be like if we didn't pray, asking God to restrain evil and give wisdom to our leaders? Only God knows the full answer to that question, but I have no doubt our world would be an even worse place if God's people didn't pray.

Be grateful for your pastor's concern for our nation and its leaders. But may his concern also become yours.

The Bible commands us to pray for all who are in places of authority — and we need to take that command seriously (see 1 Timothy 2:1-4). At the same time, never forget that Christ alone is our hope for a better world.

(Send your queries to "My Answer," c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; call 1-(877) 2-GRAHAM, or visit the Web site for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association:

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