The Ten Commandments isn’t exactly unchartered territory for pastors.
But when Rev. Ben Van Arragon began searching for a way to reach youngsters in First Christian Reformed Church, Detroit, with a meaningful explanation of the commandments, he ran into a bit of difficulty.
Struggling to find resources that would help the children in his congregation apply the commandments to their lives, Van Arragon constructed his own version.
“For all the commandments, we’re used to thinking of them as they apply to adult dealings in an adult world,” Van Arragon said. “But in fact, there’s a principle in each one that really applies to any person.”
The children’s version ranges from the most basic, such as “We will not take what doesn’t belong to us” (no. 8), and “We will listen to our moms and dads and obey them” (no. 5), to commandments that took a bit more thought: “We will respect our bodies and the bodies of other people” (no. 7).
Van Arragon constructed a list that resonates not only with kids, but with adults as well.
The creative process wasn’t as simple as one would imagine. “Trying to translate [the commandments] into more child-like language also had to do with applying more to a kid’s perspective or a kid’s life,” Van Arragon said. “So rewriting each of the commandments was to say, ‘What’s the intent of the commandment, and how would a kid say it?’”
While most of the commandments have a direct behavioral tie kids can relate to, the commandment regarding adultery became the biggest challenge. Van Arragon estimates he wrote 10 versions of the seventh commandment before settling on a final one.
Van Arragon isn’t alone in taking a creative crack at the commandments.
On the website mcsweeneys.net, Jamie Quatro imagined what would happen if God texted or tweeted the Ten Commandments in modern day.
While not as straightforward as Van Arragon’s version, Quatro hits home with varieties such as:
- dnt wrshp pix/idols (no. 2)
- no omgs (no. 3)
- dnt kill ppl (no. 6)
“In short,” Quatro writes, “WWJD?”