Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Dissecting the Ten Commandments

Doug Griffin

With the debate raging over the display of the Ten Commandments at America’s courthouses and other government buildings, I wanted to analyze each commandment with something called logic.

I. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

First of all, what does this commandment have to do with law? In my opinion, nothing says control like “obey me and only me.” This is the most blatant attempt by the authors of the Christian Bible to control you. You are not allowed to question this, only accept it. I’d question anything that says, “this is the only way and all others are false.” These are the edicts of an insecure god, not powerful one. Also, if God is all-knowing and all-powerful, there is no need for the middleman (Moses of old, Benny Hinn in modern times) to deliver the message to the masses. Throughout history there have always been hucksters – and I'm sorry but, theoretically, Moses might qualify – saying that they are delivering the message of God. I heard D. L. Hughley say once, “everybody that says they work for God, isn't necessarily being truthful.” Or something to that effect.

Jesus is quoted as saying:
If those who lead you say to you, “See, the Kingdom is in the sky,” then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, “It is in the sea,” then the fish will precede you. Rather, the Kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living Father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty.

This is one of those quotes that you won’t hear that often in your church because the statement basically cuts out the middleman – your pastor(s). If you claim you are a Christian, then it stands to reason that you would follow the words of Christ – and not necessarily the Old Testament which Jesus supposedly made null and void. For all you fire-and-brimstone conservatives out there, that means you’ve got to let go of a lot of your beliefs. That is, if you are truly a Christian. But that requires change – possibly your biggest fear.

II. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Again, nothing to do with the law. And again, here is another control mechanism. Do you realize that only the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – they are all related) require you not to question their respective validity? From a logical standpoint, does it make any sense that an all-knowing, all-powerful entity needs:
A) hucksters and charletans to spread the message? B) your total, unquestioning obedience to soothe God’s ego? And last, but not least, C) your money?

I think if one can think logically for just a few minutes, the answer to these questions is “No.” But logic has no place in organized religions, otherwise, most wouldn’t exist.

III. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Again with the vanity. And, again, not a law. Why anyone with higher than a third grade education – around the time I started questioning religion – buys into the absurdity that any omnipotent figure would be this petty, is beyond me.

IV. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Almost halfway through and still no laws, yet. The true Sabboth is Saturday. If you look up the origins of the word Saturday, you’ll find that out. Here’s a clue, in Spanish, Saturday is Sabado. Christianity can’t even get their own days right, in this respect, so they go to church on Sunday. Obviously it is okay to question or even change some rules to suit your needs. This too should be a reason to question. But most Christians wish to continue the status quo and be slaves to their beliefs rather than think for themselves as Jesus Christ – again, the namesake of the religion – directed.

V. Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

Here we are up to five commandments and so far nothing that resembles any laws we have on the books. Maybe this one should be a law considering that we treat elderly people like shit in this country.

VI. Thou shalt not kill.

Finally, a law! The problem is, people, specifically Christians, kill all the time. From the orginal Crusades to the modern day Crusades of President Bush – a devout Christian, and everyday across America. The man accused of being the “BTK” serial killer is reportedly a devout Christian and active member in his church – probably a registered Republican too. Go figure. I doubt that “BTK” is the only serial killer – alledged or otherwise – who is also a self-described devout Christian. Additonally, abortion clinics have been bombed by Christians – ironically called pro-lifers. Those bombings took the lives of innocents as well – some of the victims have been pregnant women, who would no more think of abortion than the most avowed pro-lifer, but whose only mistake was working in the wrong place at the wrong time. Kill ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out! Huh? Can I get an Amen? So killing is another gray area with Christians. By the way, pro-lifers need to get a life and stop meddling in other people’s lives. What am I saying, that wouldn’t be Christian.

VII. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Another no brainer, but not a law. If it were, the sanctity of marriage might actually mean something, rather than the ridciulous and un-constitutional notion of banning gays from marriage. If you would not want your spouse to cheat on you, why then would you cheat on him or her? Why does one need a commandment to uphold their marriage vows? If you follow one of the most basic of Christian doctrines – Do unto others… – you need only think to yourself before you break that vow. Ask yourself, “How would I feel if my spouse were to do what I am about to do?” I think if you are the least bit honest with yourself, you wouldn’t like it. It might even make you want to kill someone.

VIII. Thou shalt not steal.

Hey, another law. That’s two. We’re cooking with gas now!

IX. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

This one is only a law if you are under oath. This also falls under the do unto others… category.

X. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

Again, do unto others… but not a law.

So, only two of the ten commandments are actual laws on our books. Why then must the commandments be displayed on government property.

Jesus reportedly summed up the Ten Commandments with two:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.
Love your neighbor as yourself.

Buddhism simply says, “Cause no harm.”

That sums up everything that Commandments 5 through 10 discuss in one simple sentence. In my opinion, it sums up life in general. Is what you are doing at this moment causing harm to anyone – including yourself? That’s the only question you need to ask yourself before you do anything – lie, cheat, steal, kill, abuse – to any person or animal.

Commandments 1 through 4 basically feed the alleged vanity of God. Again, I ask, why would an omnipotent being be vain and need ego-stroking?

The question has to be asked, again, why display something at our courthouses that really has nothing to do with our laws?

It is the ego of Christianity – not of God – which compells Christians to insist the Ten Commandments be displayed. Everyone does not worship the Christian God and it does not make those people wrong because they do not. Nor should it diminish the power of the Christian God simply because the commandments are not displayed. Give God a little more credit!

To me, one of the biggest problems with Christianity, indeed Judaism and Islam as well, is the arrogance that each have in saying that theirs is the only way. If you notice, the further west you go on the globe, the more arrogant the practitioners of the religion in the region. And you just don't get any further west or more arrogant than the United States of America. Do ya?

I am not an atheist. I grew up in the Baptist church. I started questioning the contradictions in the Bible – and there are many – a long time ago. However, I do still believe in a higher power. I just don’t believe that I am as detatched from that power as the messengers of Christianity would have us believe. I believe that we are all God. I don’t need a filter nor need to be told how to connect because I am already connected to God.

It has been my experience that getting to heaven is the sole motivation for Christians to do the right thing.

In that respect, I ask two final questions:
Is it best to do what is right because you have a perceived reward waiting for you in the hereafter?

Or, is it best to do what is right simply for the sake of doing what is right?

Cause no harm.


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