For a long time in the U.S. there has been a battle between people who want to be able to display religious symbols, particularly the Ten Commandments, on government property (such as city parks, government buildings, etc.) and those who think the First Amendment prohibits such things. Christians who want vehemently to display the Ten Commandments on government property assert that “this is a Christian nation.” If so, let’s raise the bar.
Rather than the Ten Commandments, let’s erect monuments of the Sermon on the Mount, surely the pithiest expression of Christian ideals.
I hear some hemming and hawing. Why? Would it be inconvenient for America and Americans to publicly acknowledge the need to be meek and merciful, to rejoice in persecution, to eschew anger, to be well-disposed to adversaries, to avoid not only immoral acts but immoral thoughts, to turn the other cheek, to give more than what’s asked of us, to carry the equipment of a soldier of an occupying army twice as far as the law requires [or the modern situational equivalent of such an odious act], to love our enemies, to bless them that curse us, to do good to them that hate us, and to pray for them which despitefully use us and persecute us?
I propose that the Christian members of this nation build monuments, not in parks or on buildings, but within ourselves of the Sermon on the Mount. Christians should be, each of us ourselves, monuments to our faith.
But a plaque of the Ten Commandments is easy. They are a very low hurdle that one can comply with and feel good about himself. We can hang a plaque, have a ribbon cutting ceremony, pat ourselves on the back for another anchor to the Christian character of America, and go on living in exactly the same way we did before.
On the other hand inscribing the Sermon on the Mount in our granite hearts is SOOO hard. There is no ribbon cutting ceremony, because the task is never done. There are repeated failures and set-backs along the way. But as we build these monuments, we cannot continue to live the same lives we have. We must change for the better. And it is my belief that these internal monuments will do more for reinforcement of the true Christian character (humble, merciful, meek, generous, and foregiving) of our society than a million plaques of the Ten Commandments in government buildings.