Just yesterday I got in an argument with a neighbor who insisted that the only laws we really need are enumerated in the Ten Commandments. Being somewhat versed in this artifact of primitive culture, I foolishly pointed out that the first four items simply emphasized the need to adhere to a jealous god. And then, in the best Abbott and Costello fashion, my neighbor said, “Of course.” Damn! Here I was a highly educated critical thinker trying to convince a neighbor here in South Carolina than there were many problems with her understanding of her religion.
I proceeded to point out a few of the questionable, inaccurate, or inconsistent passages in the Bible (yes, I have read it more than once and studied it at the university) only to be told that despite the entire Bible being written under the divine guidance of God, the questionable passages were the work of men who had other agendas and that any discrepancies or inconsistencies were easily answered by having Faith.
I must have been foolish and resorted to a friendly Goodbye as she left to go back to what I imagined was a Holy Shrine in one corner of her bedroom.
The next day I received a posting from the internet that speaks to just what I was attempting to explain the previous night. Written in the Huffington Post by Roy Speckhardt, the article was titled
Time to Shelve the Ten Commandments
This week, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin announced her intention to defy her state Supreme Court’s decision to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state capitol grounds. …
Governor Fallin is misleadingly attempting to defend her position as a “tribute to historical events.” And she’s joined by Oklahoma Attorney General Pruitt, who similarly argues for the “historical impact of the Ten Commandments on the foundation of Western law.” Nobody believes those who would go to the extreme of defying court orders in an effort to keep a Ten Commandments monument on public land are doing so with no religious agenda–even if it is a sham one in order to curry political favor. Fallin and Pruitt should feel embarrassed about making such an obviously phony argument.
… But with folks arguing it back and forth for so long, it’s as if they forgot what their version of the Ten Commandments actually says. They may want to re-read it.
The Ten Commandments have little in them that refers to anything legal. Remember, four items focus on the importance of one religion’s God, three more deal with coveting (but not actually taking) other people’s stuff, and another is about being inactive on Sundays. This isn’t and shouldn’t be the foundation for any legal system.
The Ten Commandments are also not any modern person’s best effort at a top ten list of rules for living. Religious or not, if they stop to think about it, most people would agree that there are far more important priorities today. …
It’s time religious and political crusaders wake up to the fact that the Ten Commandments were written in ancient times and as such reflect ancient values that are largely obsolete in the modern age. Beyond legal concerns about placing a religious monument on public grounds the Ten Commandments are simply outdated. They should be shelved for something better.
As was explained in the earlier article on the historicity of Jesus, the Ten Commandments themselves appear to have been modeled after and potentially lifted from document and traditions that predate them. In this case, the Egyptian Book of the Dead.
Although still illegal since it would violate the separation of Church and State, wouldn’t The Forty-Two Commandments be more effective outside that courthouse? In fact, I may type up the list and carry it in my wallet because it seems that if everyone followed these precepts (well, most of them: I don’t know about that Goddess and God) humanity might just survive long enough for climate change to wipe out all of mankind (although No. 15 might wake up a few deniers).
With the Ten Commandments we can honor God right into death and destruction, and when all those dead believers don’t wake up in the heavenly land of God and Jesus and a passel of Popes, they won’t be surprised … ’cause they’ll be dead.
An obvious note but too many true believers still forget to include in their adherence to religion (Christianity): absolutely no one on this planet has read the Bible, not even the Pope. Instead many people (far fewer than profess to) have read one of the many translations of a collection of writings that a convention of men selected to be known as The Bible. First, not every Bible even includes the same books. Even if you are Christian, you may be reading a different Bible than the Christians over in the next county. Then the various Bibles are not consistent in the passages presented. Again, groups of men poured over the writings and decided what should be included. And finally but perhaps most important, there are many many translations or translations of translations of the book we call The Bible (and like all good religious books, the scribes have been known to add or alter the wording in the translation … just to make it more understandable).
Which bowdlerized translation of a translation of a loose collection of writings cobbled together many years after the events being depicted are you reading?
The Bible is an artifact created by man. Much of it is more akin to the DMV Manual than anything divine and the rest is fiction, or as a recent article suggested, mythologized history (or was it historicized mythology?).
One thought on “Time to Shelve the Ten Commandments”
I agree with your idea of shelving the Ten Commandments as part of the legal system. The wishes of a selfish god should not be legalized. Envy is a moral issue, not a legal issue. I enjoyed your posting the 42 Commandments, which we all can keep close to our hearts as a way of living.