We eat, we breathe, we use the bathroom. We fight, we kill, we rape, we covet. We steal, we lie, we have sex and multiply. We move, we sleep, we die. We are animals, and we act as animals in those aspects. Yet, we are set apart. We are something different, or at least we hope to be. Because despite our efforts to distinguish ourselves from the animals, any and every “animal” behavior we claim to detest is acted out by humans, every day and even worse.
We have animal limitations, yet we have spiritual aspirations as human beings. We have a desire to be more than animals. And it is those spiritual aspirations that set us apart. Thus, in our ability to think, and speak, and empathize, we adhere to religions and we create laws and take actions to help us escape our animal limitations.
I remember reading the Ten Commandments many years ago, and it dawned on me that each of these Commandments was one step up the ladder from our animal limitations. I thought that if we could adhere to them, we would be closer in action to our spiritual aspirations. Read them and you’ll see what I mean:
- Worship God alone. Not material things or other people
- Do not make idols or images in the form of God. An idol can be anything (or anyone) you worship by giving it more importance than God.
- Do not treat God’s name lightly or with disrespect. Always honor God with your words.
- Dedicate or set aside a regular day each week for rest and worship of the Lord.
- Give honor to your father and mother by treating them with respect and obedience
- Do not deliberately kill a fellow human being.
- Do not have sexual relations with anyone other than your spouse.
- Do not steal or take anything that doesn’t belong to you.
- Do not tell a lie about someone or bring a false accusation against another person.
- Do not desire anything or anyone that does not belong to you.
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I’m sure we could all think of more “commandments” we would want to add, but these would be a good start, wouldn’t you agree? Almost all the strife and failure we experience as human beings would be solved could we only follow these Commandments. And isn’t it revealing that as human beings we consider failing in these Commandments to be a problem, when animals engage in all of this as a regular part of their existence without a care? It is their nature and they cannot know anything different.
And for me, this desire to be something else is from a God, our Creator. Just as animals naturally engage in “animal” behavior, human beings naturally engage in a spiritual desire to be something greater, something spiritual. We are aware that there is “wrong” and “right”, and we try to define those behaviors in our lives and interactions with each other. We build relationships, and communities, and societies and governments to reflect our desires for more. And we still fail, even though we know better.
But even though we fail, shouldn’t we still aspire to these Commandments and our spiritual aspirations? Or, should we simply admit that we cannot meet those standards and remove them from our human consciousness. In other words, should we allow ourselves to succumb to our animal limitations and embrace them? Should we abandon our spiritual aspirations? I read the polls today and am acutely aware that church attendance is down. And I look at the statistics and the news, and I’m acutely aware that our societies are abandoning the “Ten Commandments” in action. Yet, I also watch with incredulity as we all wonder why there seems to be so much strife in our human condition? And I want to shout that the answer lies in those Ten Commandments and the God who knows that we are experiencing strife because we all know we are more. Although we all fail and come up short in the eyes of God, his commandments are still good, aren’t they?
We cannot abandon our spiritual aspirations and live without strife, because we are more than animals and the strife comes from acting as animals. In the end, it is better we have spiritual aspirations and fail, then to abandon spiritual aspirations and succeed as animals.