Rome and the Second Commandment

A sister in Christ wrote:

It seems the RCC does not walk what they teach.  For since they teach they must obey all the commandments (including the 10), then every time they pray to Mary, they are breaking the 2nd commandment

I don't think many Bible Christians have accused the hierarchy of the Catholic Church of fidelity to the teachings of their cult; much less the commandments of God. In examining Catholic conformance to the Second Commandment, one encounters a definitional issue that derives from differences between the Catholic rendering of the Second Commandment and that of those generically referred to as Protestants.

In the Catholic Catechism, the Second Commandment is stated in these terms:



You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.[Ex 20:7; Deut 5:11]

You have heard that it was said to the men of old, "You shall not swear falsely. . But I say to you, Do not swear at all.[Mt 5:33-34]CCC, 2nd Ed., p. 518 © 1994/1997 United States Catholic Conference, Inc.

Those folks who are familiar with Old Testament Scripture likely will have noticed that Catholicism's Second Commandment is what Bible-believing Christians refer to as the Third Commandment. So…what happened to the Second Commandment of the evangelical church? Would you believe? The good old boys in the dark corners of the Vatican sort of misplaced it.

Catholicism's First Commandment, according to the Vatican's online Catechism includes what we evangelicals believe to be the Second Commandment:



I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them. [Ex 20:2-5; cf. Deut 5:6-9]

It is written: "You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.” [Mt 4:10.]

The Evangelical understanding of the Second Commandment reads thusly in the KJV:

4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me;
6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me, and keep My commandments
--Exodus 20:4-6

Some may wonder why the Catholic Church, which likes to refer to its membership as Christians, combined the first two commandments. Perhaps it was because nestling God's Second Commandment under the covering wing of the First Commandment would prevent it from drawing too much attention. Imagine how inconvenient it would be if priests, bishops and other Catholic shamans were to be called up on to explain why kneeling before statues and rendering them veneration does not contravene Exodus 20:5.

As might be expected, Mama Church has managed to mangle Scripture in order to validate her pagan worship. In a note following Exodus 20:4 in the Douay-Rheims English translation of the Latin Vulgate Bible, Catholic faithful are provided a weasel-worded validation for praying before/to statues and such:

4 Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven thing, nor the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, nor of those things that are in the waters under the earth.

Note A graven thing, nor the likeness of any thing, etc. . .All such images, or likenesses, are forbidden by this commandment, as are made to be adored and served; according to that which immediately follows, thou shalt not adore them, nor serve them. That is, all such as are designed for idols or image-gods, or are worshipped with divine honour. But otherwise images, pictures, or representations, even in the house of God, and in the very sanctuary so far from being forbidden, are expressly authorized by the word of God. See Ex. 25.15, and etc.; chap. 38.7; Num. 21.8, 9; 1 Chron. or Paralip. 28.18, 19; 2 Chron. or Paralip. 3.10.

5 Thou shalt not adore them, nor serve them: I am the Lord thy God, mighty, jealous, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me:
6 And shewing mercy unto thousands to them that love me, and keep my commandments.
—Exodus 20:4-5, Douay-Rheims Bible

At his point, some Catholic apologist might jump up and begin beating his chest as he declares that Catholics do not worship or render homage to statues. Such defenses usually include the assurance that those who pray before statues, icons, etc., are not praying to the object, but rather are rendering worship to the being the thing represents—rather like channeling, I would say. They draw support from the CCC:

1161 All the signs in the liturgical celebrations are related to Christ: as are sacred images of the holy Mother of God and of the saints as well. They truly signify Christ, who is glorified in them. They make manifest the "cloud of witnesses" who continue to participate in the salvation of the world and to whom we are united, above all in sacramental celebrations. Through their icons, it is man "in the image of God," finally transfigured "into his likeness," who is revealed to our faith. So too are the angels, who also are recapitulated in Christ:

Following the divinely inspired teaching of our holy Fathers and the tradition of the Catholic Church (for we know that this tradition comes from the Holy Spirit who dwells in her) we rightly define with full certainty and correctness that, like the figure of the precious and life-giving cross, venerable and holy images of our Lord and God and Savior, Jesus Christ, our inviolate Lady, the holy Mother of God, and the venerated angels, all the saints and the just, whether painted or made of mosaic or another suitable material, are to be exhibited in the holy churches of God, on sacred vessels and vestments, walls and panels, in houses and on streets

I think that I shall stop here; having demonstrated that in the Catholic understanding, the Second Commandment is not contravened when Catholics mumble their endless prayers to Catholic Mary. Why is this so? Because Mama Church says it is so and Mama Church has previously declared herself to be doctrinally infallible and guided by the Holy Spirit. It should also be noted that the priests, warlocks, shamans and coven leaders in the Catholic hierarchy are not renowned for their understanding of or adherence to the written revelation of God.

Are Catholics blaspheming when they pray or render worship to anyone or any thing other than Almighty God? I believe, with all my heart, that they are. Christ will sort it out at the White Throne.

Home | Rome & the Bible | Catholic Stuff | PTG Forum
(C) 1994-2008 Ron Loeffler