How Evangelicalism Breaks the 10 Commandments

Mel LK
4 min readDec 8, 2020
Photography by Sean Foster

It’s no secret that in Christianity, the Ten Commandments are commonly viewed as a major staple of the faith. So much, that in the United States, there are zealous Evangelical Christian groups who will fight to the proverbial death over it. They’ll grab their propagandized pitchforks and march confidently onward towards public facilities to protest as if they were divinely endowed with special insider knowledge by God Themself, who evidently pledged them with the righteous moral responsibility of preserving their display.

And it’s sad. They’ll cause sensationalist uproars under the guise of “religious freedom” to keep these ancient words permanently etched in spaces of power — a tireless ode to evangelicalism’s theocratic, dominionist inclinations and outlandish obsession with ideological conformity. I’m all too familiar with the narrative. The second they face the slightest social impediment that prevents imposition of their niche belief system on the masses… they feign persecuted martyr. (Despite the fact that Christians, making up 70% of the United States population, are a group with immense social privilege).

I’ve spent a lot of time deconstructing that ugly mindset the past few years… and even more time rebuilding my own faith from ashes. This has involved a radical reprogramming of the toxic, regurgitated narratives that have stemmed from privileged, white, western, individualist interpretations of the Bible — interpretations that were mindlessly spoon-fed to me before I had my first period. Such painfully biased ideas were marketed as owning the monopoly on Universal Truth and mistakenly conveyed as objective, “Biblical,” empirical truth-claims. But oh, has untangling their complex web of lies wrecked my worldview in the most beautiful of ways. Digesting scripture in light of the perspective of the oppressed, not the powerful, has ushered me into a holy paradigm shift.

Given this new lens with which to interpret the 10 commandments, I can’t help but ask: What if evangelicalism was wrong in how it taught us to decipher these well-known injunctions?

Even further: What if it is evangelicalism that is causing people to systematically break the 10 commandments en masse, and this powerful belief system is actually causing many to reject the very words they claim to hold so dear?

What if evangelicalism is causing people to break the first commandment, “you shall have no other gods before me,” by elevating narrow, literalist, manmade interpretations of scripture, legalistic church policies, and rigidly hierarchical pastoral roles into golden idols whose godlike authority we must heed unilaterally, particularly over our moral conscience and the unfettered guidance of Holy Spirit?

What if evangelicalism is causing people to break the second commandment, “you shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below,” by depicting God as a cisgender, heterosexual, White, able-bodied American man and using this bias to paint our entire understanding of scripture?

What if evangelicalism is causing people to break the third commandment, “you shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God,” by invoking God’s name to protect abusive church leaders, support corrupt politicians, marginalize oppressed people-groups, and exploit people’s trust and money for personal gain a la prosperity gospel?

What if evangelicalism is causing people to break the fourth commandment, “remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy,” by enforcing American capitalist standards of labor where our worth is tied to corporate productivity, rest is equated with laziness, poverty is perceived as a moral failure, and Sabbath is now a luxury afforded mostly to the privileged?

What if evangelicalism is causing people to break the fifth commandment, “honor your father and your mother,” by supporting the separation of immigrant children from their parents, demonizing young single moms, and brainwashing parents into thinking they must “choose” between their faith and their trans kids?

What if evangelicalism is causing people to break the sixth commandment, “you shall not murder,” by enforcing nonaffirming theology that kills LGBT+ people, promoting complementarianism (aka patriarchy) that encourages violence and abuse towards women, endorsing war and the death penalty, and supporting police brutality against Black and Brown people?

What if evangelicalism is causing people to break the seventh commandment, “you shall not commit adultery,” by marrying their faith to their white supremacist politics, getting in bed with American militarism, making their “ministries” copulate with consumerism for personal profit, and forcing other Christians to sleep with their sick nationalist symbols via rituals such as the mandated recitation of the pledge of allegiance?

What if evangelicalism is causing people to break the eighth commandment, “you shall not steal,” by attempting to steal people’s identities through cultural appropriation, whitewashing the church, promoting “colorblind” theology, supporting conversion therapy, teaching historical revisionism of America’s bloodied genocidal history, and propagating imperialist colonization through “missions trips?”

What if evangelicalism is causing people to break the ninth commandment, “you shall not give false testimony against your neighbor,” by attacking the free press, decrying “fake news,” denying scientific facts, pathologizing victims of abuse, gaslighting ex-evangelicals, and dismissing the knowledge and contributions of non-Christians?

What if evangelicalism is causing people to break the tenth commandment, “you shall not covet,” by hoarding their wealth and resources from disadvantaged people in their communities while they suffer, supporting closed borders, gentrifying low-income neighborhoods, and attempting to viciously control people’s bodily autonomy and entire worldview at every stage of their life?

What if?

I dare suggest that Jesus’ ancient words to the religious leaders in Mark 7:8 can be applied to the most powerful political and ecclesial agents of the faith in America today: “You are letting go of the commands of God and holding onto human traditions.”

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Mel LK

Married lesbian leftist foster mom who loves Jesus. Incoming doctorate student with an LMSW. Book lover.