As a devout Christian for my entire life, I have often been asked about the things I “can and can’t” do because of my religion.
In short, there is nothing a Christian “can’t” do. However, because of our beliefs, we choose to live certain ways in order to best follow our Savior, Jesus Christ. No Christian is perfect save Christ alone, so we all fall short, but we strive to live in a way that would be pleasing to Christ.
So, what are the rules of being a Christian? Jesus Christ summarized all Christian commandments into just two: (1) Love the Lord thy God, and (2) Love thy neighbor as thyself. All other commandments are merely specific ways to apply those two main laws. Each specific Christian denomination teaches somewhat varying applications of the commandments, but all essentially agree that at their core, we are to simply follow the two great commandments.
Being a Christian is not about following a bizarre set of “do’s and don’ts”. It is about turning our hearts to Christ, who is love. It could seem to some that Christians are restricted or tied down, but that is not how we see it. We see commandments as ways to express our devotion to God.
A Few Commandments that Many or Most Christians Adhere to
The Ten Commandments in the Bible are almost universally accepted by Christians. Some of those commandments that form specific rules are:
- We teach to be good people, so at the very basic level, things like rape, slavery, sexual molestation, and other things that are obviously common beliefs in civilized society, are of course also taught in Christianity.
- Do not commit adultery (generally, this is interpreted to mean that sexual intimacy before marriage is forbidden, and strict fidelity in marriage is required)
- Do not idolize the things of the world. While it is no sin to have material possessions, a Christian is to focus on a higher purpose in life.
- Keep the Sabbath day holy. Many Christians attend church weekly as well as showing devotion during the week.
- Get baptized. Jesus Christ taught that this an essential ordinance.
- Have faith in God sufficient to lead us to repent when we fall short. Repentance is the means by which we accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Repentance means to put off the natural man and become clean of our sins.
- Most or all Christian religions believe it is important to give financially to support charity and religion. God doesn’t need our money, but we need to be humble enough to put our faith above the things of the world.
- Be honest in our dealings with our fellow men, as well as with God.
- Treat others kindly.
- Some churches teach that Christians should not get tattoos, and other churches believe they are perfectly acceptable. Jesus Christ taught the sacredness of the human body and frequently taught the people how important it was to be clean. Individuals are left to determine how they should interpret that teaching. You can pray to know what is right for you.
- Body piercings are also common among Christians, but other Christians choose not to get body piercings other than a simple set of earrings for women. There is no universal teaching about whether Christians should have body piercings or not among the christian religions.
Commandments According to Many Common Christian Sects
Catholics follow these specific commandments:
There are a few specific commandments that Catholics keep which are unique to their religion or at least different from some other Christian religions.
One example is the Catholic teaching that no form of birth control except natural birth control should be used. Catholics are adamantly opposed to abortion.
Catholics also encourage members to go to church and receive the Holy Communion each Sunday or on special days of obligation. Also, they are to attend confession regularly.
Catholics also recognize special religious holidays such as Lent, Good Friday, and Ash Wednesday.
Jehovah’s Witnesses follow these specific commandments:
Jehovah’s Witnesses have one unique commandment that, as far as I am aware is not practiced by any other Christian religion. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that holidays should not be observed–including birthdays, Christmas, Halloween, etc. They believe these holidays have pagan roots.
I have known a number of Jehovah’s witnesses and admired their faith and devotion to God. They are good people.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints follow these specific commandments:
I am personally a member of The Church of Jesus Christ, so I have a bit more information on this one.
- No alcohol or drugs. Why? We don’t want the
affectsof alcohol or drugs to influence us to make poor decisions.
- Donate 10% or more of your income to charity and the building up of the kingdom of God. We believe that God is the Creator of the world. We obey the law of the tithe to show our trust in God. Because of the church’s almost complete lay ministry, the tithes are only spent
forgood instead of lining the pockets of a professional pastor.
- Do not view pornography. We believe it’s incredibly belittling to women to treat them as objects, and pornography tempts the viewer to commit sin.
- Do not engage in same-sex relationships. We are taught that marriage is ordained between a man and a woman. We have great love and respect for ALL people–including gays and lesbians. They are welcome to come to church and participate in the church, and we love them just as we would anyone else. However, we do believe the Bible’s teachings that romantic relationships are ordained by God to be between man and woman.
- Dedicate Sundays to the Lord. The 10 commandments from the Bible includes the commandment “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” During the week, members of the church also visit temples.
- No cigarettes, coffee, tea, coffee or tobacco. We believe life is a gift from God and we do our best to keep our bodies healthy and clean. I wrote more on why we don’t drink coffee here.
- Teenagers do not date until 16 years-old.
- No abortion. Members of the church strongly oppose abortion and do not participate in abortion in any way. The 10 commandments say, “Thou shalt not kill.” Church leaders have opened the possibility
forabortion in extreme instances of danger to the mother’s life, incest, and rape.
- No gambling.
I have included only a few examples of the specific commandments that some of the various Christian religions follow, but it is by no means an exhaustive list. Protestants, Methodists, Baptists, and many other good Christian religions haven’t been mentioned here specifically simply for a lack of time.
What Is the Point of Commandments?
To someone who is unfamiliar with religion or is converting to Christianity, it can easily seem restrictive to view the commandments taught by the various religions.
I once heard an analogy of commandments being like the string attached to a kite. It can seem that the string is keeping the kite from flying higher and reaching its full potential. It can seem like the string is restrictive. But, if you cut the string, the kite plummets to the ground. The same is true of commandments. It seems that they restrict, but they help us access God’s blessings and bring us closer to Him, which gives us great strength.
How Can We Know What Commandments to Follow?
This is an excellent question. For me personally, I read the scriptures, prayed, and attended church diligently for some time before I felt confident that I was in the right place. I attended several different churches.
In the end, I felt knowledge through the Holy Ghost directing my path and confirming to me what was right.
If you would like to learn about my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I’d encourage you to visit this site with tons of information about the basic beliefs of our church.