I grew up in the church. I was blessed to have parents and grandparents who made it a point to make sure that my faith was centered in my life. I remember going to Sunday School, church services, and going home to eat only to go back to church. I can’t forget going to choir rehearsals, the Easter and Christmas speeches, or Vacation Bible School. I even recall the competitions to recite scriptures and share Bible stories.
Although all of these experiences have shaped me, I desired to develop and cultivate a relationship with Jesus. Those influences were important in my decision but ultimately, I made a choice. I have had friends who grew up in church who are now either non-religious, agnostic, or atheist. Despite all of the attempts of their parents and loved ones, they made a different decision. Many chose to go against the beliefs of their families because they saw hypocrisy.
I know a young man who left Christianity because of this. I didn’t stop befriending him and knew that the best way to influence him was to demonstrate my beliefs through my love and my actions. I’ve learned that no matter how we try to make people believe what we believe, the best way to convince others is to live what we believe. On April 20, the Texas senate passed two bills. Senate Bill (“SB”) 1515 mandates that public schools post in all classrooms a required version of the Ten Commandments.
Many people are outraged about the violation of church versus state. Others feel that it is not the role of schools to teach religion, especially considering that many students are not Christian. I tend to be one of those who feels that before we mandate this in schools, our leaders need to practice what they want to preach to others. The Ten Commandments are Biblical principles relating to ethics and worship that play a fundamental role in Judaism and Christianity.
The Ten Commandments are in the Bible in Exodus 20:2–17 and Deuteronomy 5:6–21. When I was a child, this was taught at home and church. I don’t think as Christians, we discuss the significance of each of these principles, but we expect others to uphold them. I’m not perfect. None of us are perfect. Yet, each of us needs to live out what we believe which is the greatest witness to others. Could it be that the world is in turmoil because so many of us are not living out what we say we believe?
We often see the Ten Commandments as something outdated, but the reality is that they apply to our lives today. Each of these principles is about relationships. They are about our relationship with God in making sure that God is first. They are about our relationships with others—our family, friends, and strangers. We don’t realize that murder isn’t always about killing someone with a weapon. We kill people daily by assassinating their character and reputation through gossip.
We steal time from God and those we commit to but don’t fulfill. We lie to others for votes and influence. We want what others have and will do anything to get it through manipulation and even violence. People are discriminated against with harmful policies, yet you want to talk about God. You hate your brother that you see every day but talk about loving and worshipping God that you’ve never seen (1 John 4:20). Desiring students to learn these Biblical truths cannot be legislated, especially when legislators don’t abide by them either.
“Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like,” James 1:22-24, MSG. Many of us walk away daily forgetting what we’ve been taught and yet, we expect others to get it. In our hopes for youth to have a sense of morality, we cannot expect them to become something that we as adults are not willing to live. It’s time to practice what we preach.
(Dr. Froswa’ Booker-Drew is the host of the Tapestry podcast and the author of three books for women. She is also the vice president of Community Affairs for the State Fair of Texas. To learn more, visit <drfroswa.com>.)