In Brief—Many believers who have little idea what the Judeo-Christian Ten Commandments actually say want them to be enshrined as the law of the land. This piece describes the rules by which those fundamentalists would have all of us live. Be careful what you wish for…you might get it.
The Ten Commandments Myth—
”…[The] Ten Commandments was clearly a marketing decision…”
This quotation is part of a Carlin routine on the Ten Commandments. Carlin was a smart guy and his observations on The Decalogue, as well as religion generally, are not only funny but perceptive as well.
According to Exodus in the Judeo-Christian Bible, Moses climbed the mountain where God presented him with ten rules, or commandments. There is a total lack of evidence that Moses ever existed and there’s no sign of the fragments of the stone tablets on which the commandments were supposedly written. These alleged rules portray a jealous and insecure deity and include rules that had been around for centuries before Judaism or Christianity ever existed.
Can you list the Ten Commandments? It’s a good bet that vanishingly few who claim that those rules are the word of God—even that they should be the law of the land—are able to name the Ten Commandments. For those who are uncertain, here are the generally understood Ten Commandments, though they may vary according to sect.
- 1) I am the Lord thy God.
- 2) Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
- 3) Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
- 4) Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
- 5) Honor thy father and thy mother.
- 6) Thou shalt not kill.
- 7) Thou shalt not commit adultery.
- 8) Thou shalt not steal.
- 9)Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
- 10) Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s (house, wife, servants, animals or anything else).
Notice anything unusual? The first three show a God that is insecure, as if credulous men rather than God came up with these rules. You’d think that a perfect deity would not be concerned with rules as picayune as these, that there were more important matters to deal with than declaiming he was Da Boss, that other gods not be allowed to outclass him, that you shouldn’t possess any statues or pictures of unapproved gods, and that you shouldn’t offend him by uttering his name as a swear word. But this is God, remember? As the all-good, all-knowing and all-powerful creator of the whole universe, he doesn’t want his creations belittling him.
Take a look at number four (4). Which day is the Sabbath? Different groups of believers have different days they designate as the “Sabbath” or day of rest. The God of the Ten Commandments is said to have created the universe and everything in it in six days and was so pooped that he had to rest on the seventh day. Believing Jews say that Friday is the Sabbath, but most Christians say Sunday is the Sabbath…although some say Saturday is the Sabbath. Which believers are right? Rest? Millions of Christian believers work on their Sabbath. Seems that putting bread on the table takes precedence over worship.
What about number five (5)? More than a few humans are put up for adoption as a baby, so they have no idea who their biological parents might be. What if mom or dad or both are monsters who abuse their kids? Both mothers and fathers abandon their children. Should the kids honor these parents? Seems logical there are reasons why many moms and dads need not be honored. Face facts, some parents just don’t warrant honoring.
Numbers six (6), seven (7) and eight (8) are common sense rules that have been around for centuries before Judaism and Christianity were even dreamed up. We’ll overlook the fact that God himself has had a hand in quite a number of unjust killings. Stealing? Aren’t we still seeing the results of grand scale thievery by Wall Street and the banks that has taken place? And these folks are thriving today.
Number 9, perjury, happens every day in politics and the courtrooms of America. I have personally seen numerous instances take place while the judges know it is perjury. Newspapers make millions on falsehoods and national leaders deliberately lie. Wars are fought and innocents die because of lies. Lying is a way of life throughout the world.
Finally, we get to number ten (10), “Thou shalt not covet…” What’s to say? Coveting is a common human pastime whether it’s the neighbor’s bigger house, the fancy car, his/her significant other or whatever. What human hasn’t envied and wanted something belonging to or associated with someone else? People around the world covet America’s perceived wealth and want that. Coveting is the very foundation of capitalism.
These are the Ten Commandments that some insist we must place in our public buildings, our schools, our halls of justice and even enshrined as the law of the land. No sooner are the Ten Commandments forced on us than America will become a theocracy like those in the Middle East. Do you really want this?
Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.