One thing to be grateful for during recent elections is the lack of babbling from religious nuts about the Ten Commandments. These prattling prigs have turned the commandments into a fetish, worshiping statues and paintings reportedly depicting the commandments, rather than, say, actually obeying the commandments. The funny thing is that the Hebrew Bible (and PLEASE don’t call it “The Old Testament.” It is the Hebrew Bible, even though the emperor Constantine of Rome stole it to give his new religion credibility), I say, the Hebrew Bible contains 613 Commandments. What’s even funnier is that the 10 commandments these people always go on and on about… are the wrong ten commandments!There is only one place in the bible where a list of commandments as such is called “The Ten Commandments” and that is in Exodus 34:15-28 ending with: “And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.”
And… Here they are:
I. Thou shalt worship no other god.
II. Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.
III. The feast of unleavened bread thou shalt keep.
IV. Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest.
V. Thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the first fruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.
VI. Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear before the Lord God.
VII. Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven.
VIII. Neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left unto the morning.
IX. The first of the first-fruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the LORD thy God.
X. Thou shalt not seethe a kid [ie, a young goat] in his mother’s milk.
As you can plainly see, these are not the commandments that the holier-than-thou religious nuts claim to follow. I find that hilarious! I’m sure they don’t even know about the REAL Ten Commandments… because in my experience, almost none of them have ever read the book which they want to force down our throats… I suggest that they spend less time on the Ten Commandments and put in a little more study of the Bill of Rights.
The Big Question:
Do Our Laws REALLY Come From
The “Ten Commandments”?
We hear it all the time from politicians, especially around election time. Here’s one example: in September 2007 Senator John McCain said, when asked the question that heads this section: “I would probably have to say yes, that the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation.” McCain went on to describe the U.S.A. as “a nation founded on Christian principles.”
The time has come to look critically at the claim that the 10 Commandments form the basis of our nation’s laws. Grab a cold one and a sandwich. This may take a bit of time, but at the end I offer… a classic movie!
First a bit of debunking via history: The Ten Commandments form a list of rules specifically designed to keep a nomadic tribe from falling apart as it traversed the wilderness for 40 years. Period. And yes, the list pre-dates the “Christian Era.”
If politicians want to get serious about biblical law, then they should reference the 613 commandments delineated in the bible, not just the ten which they have turned into a fetish. But for now, let us examine the preposterous, not to mention sacrilegious, claim that this country’s laws came from the Judaic Ten Commandments. Using the list that generally passes for The Ten Commandments, although a click HERE will show the real list, I will let the facts speak for themselves.
The First Commandment
The Bible’s first commandment says, “You shall have no other Gods but Me.” The Constitution’s first amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” So we find ourselves at odds right out of the gate! That means no witch burning, no pagan pummeling and no boiling alive or flaying people who do not worship the prevailing god or gods. Sorry about that… don’t mean to spoil anybody’s fun, but you can’t ignore the law.
The Second Commandment
#2: “Thou shalt not make unto thee… any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth.” Is it against the law to make photographs and paintings of things on the Earth? If so, there go your new smart-phone’s camera and the kid’s Crayolas®. As to “heaven above,” remember that our tax dollars went into the Hubbell Space Telescope. Do we all expect to be indicted? I think not.
The Third Commandment
#3: “You shall not take the Name of the Lord in Vain,” meaning don’t misuse God’s name.
Do we have any laws against this? Quite the opposite. In this country, taking the name of the Lord in vain is a national tradition. People pray to God for a new car, for a new skateboard, for a raise, for their high school soccer team to win. And how could any American President possibly end a speech without taking the name of the Lord in vain? They all do this with their standard closing of “God Bless America” to signal the end of a speech. And while we’re on the subject, just what the hell is the Lord’s name, anyway? Jehovah? Yahweh? Joshua Ben Joseph? Allah? Suzie (Ah, if you knew Suzie like I knew Suzie – but that’s one for my memoirs)
The Fourth Commandment
#4: Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God.”
How many states have a law demanding that you keep the Sabbath Day Holy? And what does that even mean? The Talmud has a whole body of work on the subject, delineating in excruciating detail what one may or may not do on the Day of Rest. I know of nobody serving hard time in the State Pen for toasting a bagel or pressing an elevator’s buttons on a Saturday. Or… does the Sabbath mean Sunday? We should first work that detail out before locking up people.
The Fifth Commandment
#5: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”
Do any of the 50 states make it mandatory that you honor (i.e., respect) your mother and father? Will you find yourself indicted if you fail to purchase a Mother’s Day card? Back in 2004, then-President G. W. Bush said about his father, when asked if he consults the old guy regarding the invasion and of Iraq: “You know, he is the wrong father to appeal to in terms of strength. There is a higher father that I appeal to.” Way to go! Bush not only publicly dissed dear old dad, but he invoked God in vain. That’s two Commandments down and eight to go. Was he arrested? Nope.
The Sixth Commandment
# 6: “Thou Shalt Not Murder” – Ok, we do have laws against that in most cases. But recorded history shows that all civilizations have this pesky little prohibition. Same goes for not stealing (#8) and not bearing false witness (#9). Note that it doesn’t say not to lie. Just not to commit perjury. Nobody can seriously make a case that these venerable moral prohibitions originated with the Bible. Societies predating that of the nomadic Hebrews of the Sinai Desert already had such laws.
The Seventh Commandment
#7: “You shall not commit adultery.” Short and to the point. Believe it or not, sixteen states have laws against adultery (Honest! Click HERE) but, to invoke The Bard of Avon, we find these laws ‘More honoured in the breach than in the observance.” You think of our prisons as over-crowded now, just imagine if adultery laws had teeth in them.
#8 and #9 – See #6, above
The Tenth Commandment
#10 “You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
Can cops arrest you for coveting your neighbor’s goods? Good grief, I hope not! Our whole economy stands or falls on envy of our neighbors’ goodies. It’s called Keeping Up With The Jonses. End this coveting and it’s the bread-lines of the 1930s all over again.
And that brings us to not coveting thy neighbor’s wife which my or may not be a commandment. Sometimes that stands as its own commandment and sometimes it gets folded into the one about coveting goods. Hey, that’s another point! If the Framers based our Constitution on the Ten Commandments, which ten did they have in mind?
The Jewish Ten Commandments?
The Protestant Ten Commandments?
The Roman Catholic Ten Commandments?
If it’s the Jewish Commandments, do we mean the set from Exodus 20:2-17 or those cited in Deuteronomy 5:6-21?
Well there you have it. Scrutiny shows that the bulk of the Ten Commandments have absolutely nothing to do with our civil or criminal legal system.
Let us give the final word on this subject to the Constitutional Framers who wrote : “[N]o religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” That’s from the Constitution, a document that elected officials swear to uphold when they take their jobs. Oh well, so much for not bearing false witness…
And now IT’S SHOWTIME!
The Ten Commandments:
We all know the Cecil B. DeMille classic from… 1923, right?
No? Well here it is: