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Core Christianity: Tough Questions Answered

How Many of the Ten Commandments Do Americans Think They’ve Broken This Month?

by James H. Gilmore posted July 7, 2017

In the "Fast Money" segment that concluded this particular Family Feud episode, two members of the winning family were each asked to guess the responses to five questions posed to 100 surveyed people. The very first question: How many of the ten commandments have you broken this month?

When the first contestant Lyndsey answers, "Three," host Steve Harvey and the audience chuckle (0:25 mark in the video below). Then when the second contestant Lauren answers, "Seven," Steve Harvey is shocked into silence (2:10) while the audience again laughs. But when the number of responses for "Seven" is later revealed, Harvey lets loose with incredulous laughter (2:35 forward). "Seven out of ten?," Harvey asks, "Who does that?" The answer? Evidently zero. No one.

We're told the most frequent response to the question was "One." It's perhaps telling: People may admit they sin, but just a little—one-out-of-ten-commandments-this-month little. We're sinners, but not YUGE sinners! Or some people may not see themselves as sinning at all: This Family Feud exchange really makes me wonder how many of the one-hundred surveyed answered "Zero" or "None." (By the way, when these "Fast Money" questions ask for a number, the question is usually prefaced with "On a scale from 1 to 10," so the respondents might have been preconditioned to avoid saying zero/none.) Surely some of the one-hundred answered Zero or None.

Regardless—one or none—this view of self is far removed from the understanding of sin expressed in James 2:10. Let's quote the Good News Translation, as it seems suitable for the "Good answer, good answer" sensibility of the show:

"Whoever breaks one commandment is guilty of breaking them all." (James 2:10 GNT)

Furthermore, this view of sin and self is far from understanding Jesus' own Sermon on the Mount teaching on the nature of the moral law ("whoever is angry with his brother…" and so on). And it necessarily represents a view that must also vastly underestimate the offensiveness of any and all sin to God. It surely fails to appreciate just how great the price Christ paid on the cross to make propitiation for our sins. Seven? Chuckle-chuckle, ha-ha.

Imagine the shock had either of the contestants answered, "Ten"—and then responded to Steve Harvey's by reciting James 2:10! Or imagine if the Number One answer had been "Ten"—and no one was shocked!

It must be the aim of our Great Commission efforts to share with others the breadth and depth of our Family Feud with God. For as Martin Luther explained, "The recognition of sin is the beginning of salvation." And in the end, the Good News is the only Good Answer.

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