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Impact of Ten Commandments on American Life Essay

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Updated: May 16th, 2019

The impact of Ten Commandments has manifested in the contemporary lives of the American citizens especially in the legal system formation. The Ten Commandments have as well dictated the secular lives of the Americans since they have been incorporated in the legal framework of the American history. However, this has been criticized since it is attributed to the religious conflicts and marginalizing in the American society.

The Ten Commandments are a summarily of human responsibilities. Man is capable of adopting moral codes, which are applied as laws sand are used to define what is acceptable and what is not. The society takes bleaching of such laws as being punishable. If they are based on religious foundation, they are regarded as sin. They help to have discernment between the good and evil.

Historically, the Ten Commandments have been integrated in the American civil law; the first commandment has been included in the Virginia colony (1610), Massachusetts legal code (1641) and Connecticut law code (1642). On the command against idolatry, civil laws include the New Hampshire (1680).

The third commandment on honoring Gods name, the civil law required to combat blasphemy apparent in Virginia law (1610), Connecticut law (1639, 1642), Massachusetts (1641), New Hampshire (1680), South Carolina (1695) and Pennsylvania (1682, 1700 & 1741). For the Sabbath, the American civil law segregated Sunday for worship e.g. in New York (1830), Pennsylvania (1682, 1705), Vermont (1787), Connecticut (1796), New Jersey, New Hampshire laws (1680), New Jersey (1798) and Virginia laws (1610). Sabbath laws are still in place in the contemporary American society (Barton pr. 14).

The fifth commandment on honoring the parents, the legal system incorporated it in Connecticut law (1642), State codes, Louisiana appeals (1934) among others. In the criminal law, the sixth command , which forbid killing has dictated the criminal justice system in the U.S apparent in Connecticut laws (1642) and New Hampshire laws (1680) (Barton pr. 17).

The murder laws have been traced to the Ten Commandments and have existed in the American society even to date. The seventh commandment, which forbid on committing adultery was included in Massachusetts law (1641), Connecticut (1642), Washington Supreme Court (1955), Pennsylvania (1705), among others.

The eighth commandment that forbids stealing has seen laws regarding theft to be drafted e.g. supreme appeals Court in West Virginia (1904) and Court of California (1940). On the command of bearing false witness laws such as Connecticut law (1642), Massachusetts in 1641, Supreme Court of Mississippi (1988) were drafted.

The last command, which forbid coveting, laws that have included the command are the California Supreme Court (1895- against defamation), Court of Appeals in West Virginia (1904-on election fraud), Oregon Supreme Court (1951-regarding cattle rustling) (Barton pr. 22). This is historical evidence on incorporation of the Decalogue within the American civil law and therefore, it ought to be displayed as an influential historical document

Religion has to come into play In a Judeo-Christian society such as the United States. The Ten Commandments are used as the bases to discern what is acceptable and what is unacceptable and therefore, what to be deterred out of the society. The American civil law has a strong relationship with the Christianity although the society assumes that this is not true.

The legal base has however aided in appreciation of what is right or wrong and that which punishment should be imposed. This has dictated the behavior in the society and reflects the founding father’s allegiance for the supreme deity.

In this Judeo-Christian way of life, behaviors are guided by instincts, religious mores as well as civil law, while source is religion. Moral behavior in the United States is therefore, dependent on the Ten Commandments since they have partiocipateed greatly in the civil law formation, even if one has chosen to live a nonreligious lifestyle.

At the beginning of two thousand and four, Robertson asserted the role of ten commandments in the U.S in his book, The Ten Offenses ,claiming that “liberal elites are waging war on the nation’s foundation and spiritual heritage” (Marley 276) meaning that the obligatory exclusion of the ten commandments statute from Alabama Supreme Court Building is uncalled for.

As a result, Roy Moore, Alabama Chief Justice lost his seat due to his refusal to take away the statute from the Supreme Court. Consequently, “Moore became martyr to the Christian right cause, and he toured the country with the statute on a flatbed truck” (Marley 276). Evangelical Christians founded the U.S, having the Ten Commandments dictate the civil law.

For instance, the 44th commandment which states ‘Honor the Sabbath day’ have seen blue laws, which demands the closure of businesses on Sunday, but have been neglected to make the day a great shopping time. Each of the Ten Commandments has been fabricated within the law until a point in which the Supreme Court disregarded them.

The ACLU has opposed the Ten Commandments being included in the list of the historical documents that have greatly influenced the history of the U.S. According to Federer, “the Ten Commandments have directly and indirectly influenced the America’s founders, leaders, system of government and legal code” (7). As a result, it warrants to be put in the list of historical documents, which have dictated the foundling of the U.S.

The ten commandments have been termed by the founding fathers of the society as such as George Washington, President John Quincy Adams, President Harry S. Truman “laws of God, Ordinances of God, Statutes of God, Divine law, Revealed Law, Holy law, Book of Laws, External laws, Laws given to Moses on the Mount, His just and Holy laws, the Decalogue, Foundation of our holy religion.

Immutable laws of good and evil, Government of God among others” (Federer 17) these statements in reference to the te.mn commandments were made religiously, ethically, principally and morally in the American society. Erasing the Decalogue therefore would be like erasing a vital historical moment in the American history.

Therefore, moral conducts move been defined by the Decalogue to constitute a just society and acts as the cornerstone of people’s behaviors either direct or indirectly. As a result, debates have arisen on whether it should be exhibited in the American capital with respect to its architecture. The Ten Commandments have a real portrayal of love and to live harmoniously with people from all ethnic and racial backgrounds.

Besides, it is a document that has gone a long way in facilitating the American society to heal its historical wounds such as slavery through practical guidelines, love and obeying the law. Besides, they have constituted the diversity of America’s religious history by acting as a foundation of faith and a symbol of law in the cultural aspect of the U.S. Hence images of the Ten Commandments have had their display in several federal buildings such as the Library of Congress, National Archives, and the United States Supreme Court.

Moreover, the Americans have set aside the beginning weekends of May such as in two thousand and six and two thousand and seven dubbed the ‘Ten Commandments Weekend’ .to appreciate the role they have played in building the society historically and culturally as well as the integral purpose of shaping the American citizens.

In conclusion, analyzing the effect of Ten Commandments on the lives of the Americans is likened to analyzing the influence of western culture in the lives of these people. This is because the Ten Commandments are so imbedded in the society civil law and therefore dictates the lifestyle of the Americans.

Works Cited

Barton, David. “The Ten Commandments: A Part of America’s Legal System for Almost 400 Years!” United States district Court Eastern District Of Kentucky London Division Civil Action, No. 99-508. Mar. 2001. Web.

Federer, William. The Ten Commandments & Their Influence on American Law – A Study in History. St. Louis: MO: Amerisearch, Inc., 2002. Print.

Marley, John. Pat Robertson: An American Life. Oxford, UK: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007. Print.

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