Ten Commandments

Q. Were the Ten Commandments written for the Jews or for all people?

L.B., via email 

A. Here’s a reply from TCA columnist Father Ray Ryland, Ph.D., J.D:

The Ten Commandments bind all people, not only the Jews. Prior to becoming pope, in one of his books Pope Benedict XVI discussed the Ten Commandments in “God and the World: A Conversation with Peter Seewald” (Ignatius Press, 2002), and he detailed how natural law is the basis of the commandments:

The term “natural law” can mean human descriptions of how God operates in His universe. These are the concern of science. “Natural law” as used by the Church designates the moral structure, the moral law, of the universe. Nature, he said, “carries within itself” a “profound message,” which he calls “signposts.” When the Church refers to “natural law,” she points to “the inner directions that shine forth for us from within creation.”

Trying to ignore the moral laws of the universe causes harm to us as much as attempts to ignore the physical laws of nature. I may choose to ignore the law of gravity and step out into space from the top of a tall building. But I can’t break the law of gravity; its operation will break me. The same is true of the operation of the moral laws of God’s creation. These laws cannot be broken. Instead, those who flaunt them will be broken. The laws always remain unaltered.