> Reflections

02/04/2013 - The Decalogue as an ethical principle of law – Part I

André Soares

According to the book of Exodus, chapter 20, after descending from Mount Sinai, Moses presented people with the Decalogue, known as the Ten Commandments. Also called “testimonies” of God, they were delivered in two tables of stone, revealing itself as a thorough, enlightening and reader-friendly compendium so that everyone could understand and apply them in their life.

Have you noticed that many of the ethical principles summarized in those ten sentences already served as the basis for many of the laws we know today?

As an example, we can quote the fourth commandment (“Remember the Sabbath day”). This rest is meant for people to worship God. However, we know that there is an ethical issue in that principle: by working six days a week and separating a day of rest, it was also established the vital balance between work and rest. Even today this principle is used in Labor Law.

And it doesn’t stop there. We can mention the “Honor your father and your mother” (a basis of respect for authority); “You shall not murder” (human life is sacred); “You shall not commit adultery” (protects marriage and family); “You shall not steal” (respect the property of others); “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (it protects justice and the dignity of the human person) and “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house” (it promotes austerity and respect for oneself and others).
That is why in the task I perform today, in this House of Laws, I always try to seek Biblical support for each project that I present. Human society has changed, but the word of God abides forever.


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