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?”
Ten Commandments for Kids
By Ben Van Arragon
- We will worship God alone.
- We will not make pretend gods or let anything take God’s place.
- We will use our words to praise and honor God.
- We will save one day a week for rest and worship.
- We will listen to our moms and dads and obey them.
- We will not hate people or hurt others with our words and actions.
- We will respect our bodies and the bodies of other people.
- We will not take what doesn’t belong to us.
- We will tell the truth.
- We will be thankful for God’s good gifts to us.
If God Texted the Ten Commandments
By Jamie Quatro
- no1 b4 me. Srsly.
- dnt wrshp pix/idols
- no omgs
- no wrk on w/end (sat 4 now; sun l8r)
- pos ok – ur m&d r cool
- dnt kil ppl
- :-X only w/ m8
- dnt steal
- dnt lie re: bf
- Dnt ogle ur bf’s m8. Or ox. Or dnky. Myob.
M, pls rite on tabs & giv 2 ppl.
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