A Roman Catholic Apologetic for the Ten Commandments
Father John J. Pasquini’s Ecce Fides: Pillar of Truth (197ff. 2007) contains essays in Roman Catholic apologetics. (From the Greek απολογία, "speaking in defense" is the discipline of defending a religious position through the systematic use of reason. Pasquini defends many Catholic doctrines, including those on the immortal soul, everlasting torment, indulgences, relation to other churches, heretics, pro-life, relics, popes and inquisitions. The following passage provides us with Roman Catholic moral imperatives, and specifically the meaning of the Ten Commandments. Ecce fides is Latin for Behold Faith!
MORAL DOCTRINES UNDER ATTACK
The Ten Commandments and their implications for Catholics (cf. Exodus 20:2-17)
1. The first commandment forbids acts of superstition, divination, magic, and all forms of sacrilege. It forbids acts of idolatry such as the worship of money, power, fame, and all sorts of "worldly" accomplishments. It forbids atheism and agnosticism, for they are nothing other than the hidden or subconscious worship of self.
2. The second commandment demands a respect for the sacredness of the Lord's name. Acts of blasphemy, the taking of false oaths, and acts of perjury are strictly forbidden.
3. The third commandment is a summons to keep the Lord's Day a holy day. It demands the faithful attendance of Sunday Mass, and an attitude of profound worship. It is a time to spend with God and to abstain from any work that distracts from authentically consecrating Sunday as a precious day of love of God and love of neighbor. One seeks comfort, but one also seeks to be challenged to grow.
4. The fourth commandment demands the authentic honoring of father and mother. This means obedience, respect, gratitude, and the repaying of love for love.
5. The fifth commandment is an affirmation of the dignity of life, of not murdering. Unjust war, direct abortions, the use of contraceptives, suicide, and intentional euthanasia are all forbidden by this commandment.
6. The sixth commandment is a command that demands fidelity. Any act which is contrary to the dignity of chastity, such as fornication, adultery, polygamy, open or free marriages, divorce, homosexual and bisexual acts, masturbation, and pornography are forbidden. The sixth commandment is a call to authentic sexual integration.
7. The seventh commandment is a prohibition against stealing. It is characteristic of a lack of charity and injustice. Often stealing is done in subtle ways: For example, on the part of employers in a business a violation of the seventh commandment is often exemplified by the mistreatment of workers through unfair wages, lack of health benefits, and lack of retirement benefits. On the part of the employee this injustice and lack of charity is often seen in acts of laziness and all forms of lack of effort in the work environment.
8. The eighth commandment is a prohibition against bearing false witness against one's neighbor. Lying, duplicity, hypocrisy, dissimulation (that is, hiding under a false appearance), betrayal of confidences, calumny (character assassination), slander, and so forth are all acts contrary to the dignity of persons.
9. The ninth commandment is a prohibition against coveting one's neighbor's wife. This commandment calls one to live a life of decency and modesty. It is a call for purity of heart, intention, and vision.
10. The tenth commandment is a call to avoid coveting another's goods. It is a call to avoid avarice, envy, and all immoderate desires. It is a call to desire a detachment to all that is contrary to the glory and honor of God. One is called to desire God above all.
Fulfilling the Commandments
[A lawyer asked Jesus:] "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?" And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets" (Matthew 22:37-40, RSV).
To authentically love is to fulfill and grasp the true intentions of the commandments. The "culture of life" and the roadmap to light, peace, and happiness are based on the fulfillment of these commandments.
The natural and moral law, essential dimensions to moral theology
The Bible alone approach can often lead individuals to miss another important aspect of revelation, natural revelation. Natural revelation is based on the natural law and the laws of nature that God created. By being aware of the inner principle, called conscience, one can know right from wrong. By observing the order and structure of God's creation one can likewise know the right from the wrong in terms of our interactions with all of creation and God. When natural revelation is corrected by divine revelation in Scripture and Tradition then one can come to a knowledge of God by human reason and have a greater understanding of the world. Faith seeks understanding and the more we understand the more our faith is nourished.
Thus, a sin is not only that which is condemned in the Bible or Sacred Tradition but it is also condemned by the natural or moral law. What is contrary to the natural and moral law is a sin. In Genesis 1:1-2:4 a perfectly ordered, harmonious world is created. This is followed by the Fall, the "original sin" (Genesis 3) where this harmony and order are destroyed. As we will see in the case of homosexual acts and the other moral sins, they are sins that are condemned by God in the Scriptures, Tradition, and by the very nature of God's creation.
The Ten Commandments above are not arbitrary laws or rules of conduct; rather, they are the expression of that God-given reality which is at the core of every human being guiding him or her into the ways of righteousness or depravity.
The following is not a part of the previous essay:
The definition of sin:
James 4:17. Whoever knows what is right to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin (¢amartia).
1 John 3:4. 4. Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness (anomia).