Wednesday, April 04, 2007

fun with the ten comandments

Recent discussions I've found myself in have caused me to consider the ten commandments, those delightful nuggets of joy that the christian Bible tells us to stamp onto everything that doesn't move for ten straight minutes. So I went to, seriously, don't laugh,

I've listed the first two commandments as one because they're basically the same thing. It's almost like god had to stretch it because he'd already said ten before he realized there were only nine. Or maybe the stone tablets looked uneven with only nine written out, and he added the last one for balance.

I don't know. I grew up with these things, probably could even years ago have told you all ten from memory. Now I have to look them up online. Yes, I do have a Bible. It's on my shelf, labeled fiction. No I don't feel like getting up and finding it.

-You shall have no other gods/you shall create no idols-This is one doesn't have anything to do with law or justice. This is a straight up command not to believe in other gods/religions. As an atheist, I ignore these two completely. I'd go so far as to say the majority of people of any faith tend to allow plenty of things to come between their professed beliefs and how they live their lives.

-You shall not take the Lord's name in vain-see above, and you lovely people may not know this about me, but I practice cursing in front of a mirror to make sure I do it right. But that's just me.

-Remember the sabbath to keep it holy-There's our blue laws for you. The worst of these laws is that we too often forget to pick up our tequila before Sunday and can't get it. Oh, I can buy beer Sunday, but our liquor and beer retail is closed. Growing up in Georgia I remember the blue laws only extended to retail sales. I'm sure different counties treat the law differently, but it always seemed odd that I could get as drunk as I wanted in a bar, but I was unable from midnight to midnight Sunday to purchase beer to take home. Also see Tennessee's willingness to change Sunday purchase time for the Titans games.

-Honor your father and mother-I saw a story on the news yesterday about a very young girl whose mother had set up an appointment with a porn photographer (actually an undercover cop) and the mother even brought extra clothes as well as sexual aids. Should this child honor this mother?

-Thou shall not murder-Every society in the world has seen murder as wrong. To some ancient cultures though a human sacrifice to the gods was seen as completely natural. Joshua's army in the Bible not only destroyed the city of Jericho, but they also killed every man, woman, child and the animals. As if that weren't enough, they then burned the entire city to the ground. Our own president could be condemned of murder given what he has led our country into.

-You shall not commit adultery-This doesn't give us a lot to go on, so we tend to assume what it means based on modern expectations of marriage which often have very little to do with ancient marriage, see woman as chattel, see concubines, see King David.

-You shall not steal-another law that various cultures throughout the world have settled on with no outside help.

-You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor-Lying, perjury, again widely accepted as morally wrong with no outside christian influence.

-You shall not covet-here we have the Bible telling us how to think. It's wrong to want things you don't have. We could look at buddhist teachings and find the same sort of attitude, attempted elimination of desire for things. But we could also accept that this one is really impossible to keep for the most part.

It is my opinion that the idea that law is based on the ten commandments is a very new phenomenon. I don't see it as at all likely, but so many of us have heard this for so long we've accepted it as true. Of all the ten commandments, three of them have any bearing on what most of the world accepts as moral or ethical. The other seven could be specific to any religion but could only apply as law in a theocracy.


Michele said...

The Ten Commandments were the first simply stated Jewish laws laid down for the people when they were unsettled and infighting. I believe that's historically significant. They've been waved around and messed with throughout history, and often ignored or warped, but I see them as sensible, and applicable to much of life's situations.

I'd say there a pretty benign irritation to many people these days, and make for interesting debate.

Sandy said...

Don't you LOVE how not even the Sabbath law is obeyed by mainstream Christians? The true Sabbath is from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown, not Sunday.

Another point worth noting is that the ten commandments that most of us know are not the ones designated in the bible as "the" ten commandments! LOL, here are "the" ten commandments...

Exodus 34:10-28

"10 Then the LORD said: "I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the LORD, will do for you. 11 Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 12 Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you. 13 Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles. [a] 14 Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

15 "Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices. 16 And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same.

17 "Do not make cast idols.

18 "Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread. For seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in that month you came out of Egypt.

19 "The first offspring of every womb belongs to me, including all the firstborn males of your livestock, whether from herd or flock. 20 Redeem the firstborn donkey with a lamb, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem all your firstborn sons.
"No one is to appear before me empty-handed.

21 "Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest.

22 "Celebrate the Feast of Weeks with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year. [b] 23 Three times a year all your men are to appear before the Sovereign LORD, the God of Israel. 24 I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your territory, and no one will covet your land when you go up three times each year to appear before the LORD your God.

25 "Do not offer the blood of a sacrifice to me along with anything containing yeast, and do not let any of the sacrifice from the Passover Feast remain until morning.

26 "Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the LORD your God.
"Do not cook a young goat in its mother's milk."

27 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel." 28 Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments."

Damn, I just cooked a goat in its mother's milk just last week! :-)