Applying The Ten Commandments To Minimalism


Most of us have heard The Ten Commandments. Today’s post is twist on those commandments: Applying The Ten Commandments to minimalism. Whether you’re just starting on your minimalist journey or you’re a hardcore minimalist, I hope this list helps you along the way.

I’ve been upon the mountain. From the top, I’ve seen both sides.

On one side, I’ve seen millions of people competing to get ahead of each other in life. They accumulate unneeded stuff. They busy themselves with trivial matters. They fight over money. They consume. They create huge amounts of waste and debt. They build themselves up through the purchasing of material goods only to be unsatisfied with their lives.

On the other side, I’ve seen the few living simply. They seek space rather than stuff. They seek friendship and love rather than money. They help one another and build strong relationships. They create communities that instill good stewardship of the Earth. They understand that living with less leads to more. I’ve chosen to pursue life on this side of the mountain. 

Thou Shalt Not Own Too Much Stuff

  1. I am the Lord thy God: No matter what religion you believe, your deity is supposed to come first. If we put our God above ourselves, we have less reason and need to acquire the things of this world. The minimalist, having less distraction, can focus more intensely on his or her God. You shall have no other gods before me: When we focus on money and material wealth, we create other gods. Our quest for larger homes and faster cars becomes a priority, and thus those things become gods in themselves. The minimalist lessens the likelihood of following other gods.  
  2. You shall not have any false idols: When we become consumers simply for the sake of consumption, we have crossed a line. Our world is overloaded with false idols. Our media and advertising scream for us to buy and follow these false idols. The minimalist attempts to tune out these messages that lead to idolatry.
  3. You shall not take the name of your Lord your God in vain: I’m not convinced that saying goddamit or Jesus F. Christ in anger is taking God’s name in vain. This is not to say that we should go around cursing. I believe that falsely or egostically using God’s name to increase personal wealth is taking God’s name in vain. Minimalists are careful when choosing products. I personally stay away from products created by people who get rich using God’s name.
  4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy: I remember when most stores were closed on Sundays. Now it seems most stores remain open. We get so busy that we work seven days a week. The minimalist not only reduces clutter, but also reduces their schedule. This allows them more time to relax on the sabbath.
  5. Honor thy father and thy mother: My parents lived much simpler than I do. Their parents lived simpler yet. If we honor the generations before us, we learn that simple is an honorable path.
  6. Thou shalt not kill: Have you ever stopped to consider how many people have died in the name of consumerism? Consumerism leads to greed. Greed leads to wars. Products are made from precious resources. We kill each other and our environment to continue to keep up with the Joneses. The minimalist makes choices that slow down this senseless pattern.
  7. Thou shall not commit adultery: In our desire for more and better, we often sexualize people. Our modern media is filled with stories and images of lust. Jesus said, even if we think of impure desires, we have committed adultery. The minimalist can lessen his or her impure desires by decreasing their consumption of sexualized media.
  8. Thou shalt not steal: When I was a kid, I stole candy from the store. My daughter stole a few things when she was younger. Millionaires find ways to legally steal from others. We steal because we have been programmed to believe we need unneeded things. The minimalist does not steal because they have learned the difference between needs and wants. We only have a handful of true needs.
  9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor: Lying about others stems from jealousy. Jealousy stems from desiring what another has. People lie to make themselves look better than the next. The minimalist reduces the need to lie because he or she is satisfied with their own position in life. This helps them to love their neighbors as they love themselves
  10. Thou shalt not covet: How many times have you wished you had something your neighbor had. Following the cultural norm of keeping up with the Joneses makes us covet what others have. We desire their house because it’s bigger. We desire their spouse because they’re more attractive. We desire their stuff because we think it’s better. The minimalist has learned to forego these thoughts because they are happy to live with less.

Thou Shalt Live With Less

Learning to live with less can help us become better people. Learning to live with less can help us to become more dedicated to our deity. Minimalism, by no means keeps us from doing wrong, but it lessens the likelihood of many wrongs we might commit.

I encourage you to make a conscious effort to live more simply. Take some time to inventory your life and your belongings. Make a point to reduce your consumption. Keep The Ten Commandments in mind as you continue your minimalist journey. 

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James Ewen
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