The ten commandments
Unless you are familiar with the scriptures not many people know that the ten commandments are actually narrated twice in the scriptures. You can find them in Exodus chapter 20:3-17 and Deuteronomy chapter5:7-21. For the purpose of this post and to avoid confusion I will stick to using only the version outlined in Exodus.
- divine proscription: a command from God, especially one of the Ten Commandments Synonyms: directive, order, commandment, demand, charge, instruction, mandate, decree
The biblical deity obviously suffers from megalomania. Which is defined as:
- greed for power: an excessive enjoyment in having power over other people and a craving for more of it
- psychiatric disorder with delusions of power: a psychiatric disorder in which the patient experiences delusions of great power and importance
1. “You shall have no other gods before me."
2. “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below."
3. “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name."
4. “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy."
The first commandment demonstrates the utter intolerance of Judaism. Christians also share the same intolerance and claim of absolute truth from this commandment. The second is a prohibition against making images and if you read further of worshiping those images. Once again it is all about Yahweh. In the third commandment you are warned that even his name holds power and misusing his name can also have dire consequences. Finally, the fourth just reminds you that he rested on the seventh day from his labor of creation and so you too must take the seventh day as a day of rest. Why would an omnipotent deity need any rest at all is beyond me. Maybe he is not omnipotent after all. Based on this initial assessment, I move to refer to the ten commandments as the six commandments since the first four shouldn't even count.
Now let's take a look at the last six commandments and see what we can make of them.
5. “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you."
6. “You shall not murder."
7. “You shall not commit adultery."
8. “You shall not steal."
9. “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor."
10. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
These last six commandments are a little bit more pragmatic and to an extent more useful to a community or society as a whole. But they are also quite ambiguous in that they don't take into account specific situations that may require interpretation of those laws. The fifth commandment states that you should honor your mother and father. But what if mom and dad are physically abusive and substance abusers as well? Do we still honor them for the years of abuse and torment that we were subjected to because of their life styles? Let's not forget about the effects of sexual abuse as well.
I am aware that in the book of Leviticus and even some of Exodus we are given some instances where the law is interpreted to specific situations. But some of the punishments in my view don't fit the crimes and are often too extreme. For instance death for worshiping other gods or practicing witchcraft or fortune telling. The sixth commandment says that we should not commit murder. But as anyone knows there are various forms of murder. There is that which is committed maliciously and with intent and then there are those incidents where self preservation requires you to kill another human being and then there is murder in defense of another. Of course other situations and reasons could apply as well. But while God commanded against murder, he led the Israelites on a campaign of war and wanton murder in order for them to possess the lands he so called gave them and clear it of its present inhabitants. So murder in the commandments was subjective to the whim of God.
The seventh commandment states that you shall not commit adultery (have relations with a married woman or man) yet at the same time we read in the Old Testament that it was okay to have concubines alongside multiple wives. So polygamy and concubines (mistress) were okay but somehow to me that seems self contradictory. The eighth commandment seems more practical than its predecessors. I don't condone stealing and feel that it is a good commandment but what if you are homeless with children in a culture that does not have welfare or other government aids for those who are down and out? Aside from begging stealing may be necessary for your own survival and that of your children. Some countries actually prohibit begging in the streets so stealing ends up being your only alternative. Also, the Israelites stole everything they had under God's command so once again it wasn't bad because God gave them the land and was leading the troops.
The ninth commandment seems more applicable to all situations. It's not cool to lie about your friends or neighbors or anyone for that matter. The Salem witch hunts are a perfect example of the consequences a lie could bring someone. So far I think that this is the one and only commandment I fully agree with. Finally, coveting your neighbors goods, property, and his wife is definitely not cool. But if your neighbor is prosperous and you desire his wealth it can also have a positive effect on you and motivate you to work to get where he is at. So in some instances coveting may not be so bad after all. It's bad to maliciously covet someones things which eventually leads you to steal or even murder someone for their possessions.
Even though I do not agree with all of the sayings attributed to Jesus I think that one in particular saying blows the ten commandments out of orbit.
Note: All word definitions are taken from the Bing online dictionary and all biblical citations are from the New International Version.