Did the Catholic Church Change the 10 Commandments?
Some Protestants like to charge the
Catholic Church with changing the Ten Commandments in order to keep the
idolatrous practice of having statues in His places of worship. They argue that
Catholics omitted of the second Commandment in Exodus 20 which forbids
the making of graven images. But is this true? No, and here are some reasons why.
First, it's important to note, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church does in
paragraph 2066, that the division and numbering of the Commandments has varied
throughout the centuries. The division in numbering that the Catholic Church
follows, as well as the Lutheran Confession is that of st. Augustine,
which differs slightly from the division worked out by the Greek fathers which is
found in the Orthodox churches and Reformed communities. But concerning the
Commandment in question: Like Agustine, we see it merely as an extension of the
first: "You shall have no other gods before me."
In light of the context, it seems that Augustine was right; for immediately after
God prohibits the making of graven images, he says in verse 5: "You shall not
bow down to them or serve them." The prohibition is against idolatry, not the
making of images in an absolute sense. If the Commandment were a prohibition
against making images, then God would have contradicted himself when he
commanded Moses in Exodus 25 to make two gold cherubim and put them over the mercy
seat on the Ark of the Covenant. But that's absurd. Finally, among those
communities that have as their second Commandment the prohibition to make
graven images they also combine the prohibition of coveting your neighbor's
wife and goods as one commandment. But folks, a man's wife is not a man's
property. That these are two distinct Commandments–which is how the Catholic
Church have used them–is made clear in the list found in Deuteronomy chapter
five. So the Catholic Church didn't change the second Commandment; and more
importantly, it's not guilty of idolatry in having statues it its places of
worship. If you want to learn more about this topic and
others like it, visit our website at Catholic.com. And also don't forget to
check out CatholicAnswersSpeakers.com to learn how you can bring me out to
speak at your event. For Catholic Answers, I'm Karlo Broussard. Thanks for watching.