The Second Commandment

Perhaps no one of the Ten Commandments at first reading seems so difficult to reconcile with the teachings of Christian Science as the second (Ex. 20:4–6) : "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments." Yet our Leader, Mary Baker Eddy, attaches great importance to the teaching of the Ten Commandments to the children, providing in the Manual of The Mother Church that these shall be taught among the first lessons of the Sunday school pupils. She did not except one commandment.

The wording of the second commandment, as quoted from the King James Version of the Bible, might seem to depict God as jealous and revengeful. But this plainly is not in accord with the Scriptural teaching that God is unchanging, impartial divine Love. The Bible abounds in instances of protection and deliverance by God, the all-loving Father. The entire story of Moses, through whom the Ten Commandments came, and who led the children of Israel out of bondage, across the Red Sea and through the wilderness, is an outstanding example of divine direction. Christian Science teaches that God's power is protective, not punitive. This fact by no means exempts evil from being punished and destroyed.

Words Are Little Windows
June 1, 1946

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