Robert Hitt Neill Column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Youths deny stealing 10 Commandments sign

A friend at church shared with us at a recent Wednesday night prayer meeting that he had looked out his breakfast room window one morning to observe three teenage boys walking along the road in front of his house.  

Suddenly they stopped at the side of the road, obviously reading the sign that has been in his front yard for years. He called to his wife, “Come look: there are some kids out here reading the Ten Commandments.”

They were justly proud of the effect their posted words were having upon the youth of their fair city.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Until one of those youths of the fair city reached out and pulled the sign out of the ground – which wasn’t an easy task, the Delta ground having had no rain for over a month. Our hero was drinking his morning coffee in his skivvies, as was his privilege inside his own castle.

He strode to the front door and flung it open.

“Hey!” he bellowed at the departing three, “One of those Commandments says you’re not supposed to steal!”

Wow, did that stop them in their tracks! Then the kid with the sign in his hands turned and yelled back, “We ain’t stealing them!”

The homeowner reiterated, “One of those Commandments says, ‘Thou shalt not steal.’  It looks to me like you’re walking off with my sign!”

This kid was obviously leaning toward a legal career: “Well, we ain’t stealing it,” he repeated firmly, while holding the sign he had pulled from the front yard, standing in the blacktop road several feet past the homeowner’s property line. The three youths stared at the man addressing them, still standing in his skivvies in his front door.

“Well, put it back where you got it, then,” that man suggested, still speaking mildly, though seeing his Ten Commandments leaving the premises.  

The three kids conferred quickly amongst themselves, then turned around and tried to shove the sign back into the hard-as-a-brick front yard, which proved impossible, even for three older teenagers in good physical shape. Finally, they laid the Ten Commandments down in the yard, and continued their journey.

The Ten Commandments came back to the house, for the homeowner, once he had properly clad himself, could not drive the sign back into the hard ground either. Perhaps they will be safer there, though not as readily read by passersby.

Why were these youth “not stealing” the Ten Commandments? Is it possible that the Ten Commandments have been barred from their high school, so they were just borrowing them for the class Show and Tell that morning? Maybe they took them to replace the sign the Judge had removed (not stolen) from their school.

Perhaps they belonged to one of those modern denominations that teach that a merciful God does not judge, nor send anyone to Hell for their wrongdoing. Some denominations do not even accept the concept of Hell, although they are quick to embrace the concept of Heaven, especially at funerals.

They just reckon everybody is going Upstairs, since there ain’t no Downstairs, they think. Maybe those kids were intending to borrow the Ten Commandments, to show their congregations the antiquated beliefs some folks still cling to.

Probably they were going to come back with the preacher to pray for the deliverance of homeowners who go around in their skivvies accusing young men of stealing stuff, not knowing their congregation had been delivered from old-timey Biblical standards.

It could be that they saw another news report that some judge somewhere had ordered that the Ten Commandments do not belong in modern American schools, or courtrooms, or churches, or (fill in your own blank here). Possibly they saw themselves as court-ordered tools of modern society, removing unlawful displays of the Ten Commandments. They were taking it to the Sheriff’s Office!

That homeowner got off light, didn’t he? Instead of getting him fined for falsely accusing innocents in his skivvies, they put the Ten Commandments back and left him at large, roaming the neighborhood, scaring other poor innocent kids.

But they weren’t stealing them. No, Sir! Not atall.