1. You shall have no other gods beside me.
The first commandment forbids idolatry and polytheism. It promotes putting God first in our lives and aligning our lives in such a way that nothing takes the place of God. Regarding this commandment the catechism says, “The first commandment forbids honoring gods other than the one Lord who has revealed himself to his people” (CCC para 2110). This commandment is important in moral decision making because it tells us what is important. We have many things such as cell phones, social media, and television that can take the place of God. This commandment tells us to make sure He stays in his proper place in our lives.
2. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
The second commandment is a prohibition against taking false oaths and debasing the holy name of YHWH. The catechism states that “Rejection of false oaths is a duty to God” (CCC para 2151). The second virtue that this commandment promotes is honestly before God and man. There are many ways in which this commandment comes into play in regard to moral decision making. One that comes to mind is our faith. Christianity is under attack in many areas of the world, and it may be tempting deny that we are Christians depending on the situation. That is a false oath, and this commandment encourages us to make the right choice and stand up for our faith.
3. Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.
This command tells us to keep worship of God as a priority. It is also a call to rest and remember everything the Lord has done for us. It prohibits taking advantage of the poor in our employment, and worship of money. Regarding this commandment the catechism states, “The sabbath brings everyday work to a halt and provides a respite. It is a day of protest against the servitude of work and the worship of money” (CCC para 2172). Since worship is a priority it stands to reason that we should do everything possible to attend mass and receive the Eucharist if at all possible. This assists our decision making by reminding us of what is important. Though we may be exhausted by a hard work week, we must make the right choice and attend mass to worship with the community.
4. Honor your father and mother.
This commandment implores us to honor our parents, but to also honor those whom God has given that authority to. This includes teachers, police officers, and government officials. The commandment prohibits abuse of our parents in the latter stages of their lives, and manipulation of authority figures for personal gain. Regarding this the catechism states, “This commandment includes and presupposes the duties of parents, instructors, teachers, leaders, magistrates, those who govern, all who exercise authority over others or over a community of persons” (CCC para 2199). This commandment helps in moral decision making by helping us remember the great gift that has been given to us. Though we may be experiencing hard financial times, it is never appropriate to take advantage of an elderly person for our own gain. We must show them the respect that God tells us ins granted to them.
5. You shall not murder.
Regarding this commandment the catechism states, “God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being” (CCC para 2258). This commandment prohibits the taking of an innocent life or deliberately disrespecting those around us. This commandment also tells us to protect life from the moment of conception to natural death. Therefore, the commandment helps us virtuously protect life and to preserve peace among fellow humans. This command assists in moral decision making by helping us remember that everyone is made in the image of God. Though we may be disrespected by someone, we must show them grace because they are made in that image. We must only resort to violence only if our own lives are threatened, and only as a last resort.
Catechism of the Catholic Church. Doubleday Books. New York, NY: 1995. Print.
Holy Bible, New Revised Standard Version