The Ten Commandments — Thou Shall Not Think!
Exodus, chapter 20.
As anyone familiar with the continuing battle over the separation of church and state knows, there is one thing from the Old Testament that Christians consider absolutely fundamental to today’s lawful society, the Ten Commandments. This set of divine restrictions is considered by many of the sects to be the heart of all law in the western world. Without them, the world would spiral out of control and doom the very essence of civilization itself. At any courthouse or government building in the world, the lack of these strictures simply begs people to commit atrocities. If humanity would ever dare to forgo the guiding hand of these ten immutable laws, the world would descend into the blackened abyss, and abominations would soon follow, brother killing brother, husband oppressing wife, rape and war, floods and famine, dogs and cat living together, Holy shit, Batman, we’re screwed. In other words, complete chaos. We’d better not risk it people. There’s little sense in playing with fire of this magnitude. For a lack-of-Christ-sake, just look what’s at stake! Damn you!
Yeah… Hmm… Hey wait just a goddamned minute. Let’s think about this. As an even casual reader of history knows, time and time again humanity plunged into these degeneracies often holding the banner of God’s word high as they rode down all those uncounted multitudes. Exactly what symbol were they carrying as they mangled their way through the Aztecs and Inca empires? What legal statutes did they hold supreme as they enslaved and conquered vast stretches of Africa, the Americas, and Australia? When brother fought brother in the American or English civil wars, what ten principles were they heeding as they bayoneted and shot each other a with such vicious abandon? Thou shall not kill???
Simply using history, one could argue the poor efficacy of this “vital’ document in controlling our baser instincts. Come on people! Have you ever genuinely read this Decalogue of human restriction? I mean really read it? The entire first four are all for the glory of a jealous God. Well, you may think that he gets four, but at least we get the other six. Not quite, for it’s a bit deeper than that. Are you aware that those first four cover 34 lines of my translation, 34 lines telling us to put God above all else or he will crush both you and you descendants. Moses made damn sure that he and his “God” were well represented, here. In contrast, the succeeding six Commandments use up only 13 lines. 13??? A baker’s dozen lines of poor prose are the entire basis for all western law? Honestly? C’mon people! They’re mere afterthoughts rather than anything serious. Thou shall not covet thy neighbors donkey? Are you frakking kidding? This ranks above slavery and child molestation, wife beating and rape, torture and oppression? What kind of frakked up world do we live in if these are the ten most important commands?
Distinguished against their predecessors, Hammurabi’s codes written a millennium before, the Ten Commandments come out as a rather pathetic imitation. Though, it is true, there are more rules and restrictions throughout the rest of the book and perhaps these need to be taken as a whole, these are the ones they al want in every classroom. A lack-of-God-knows that every six year old in kindergarden is in serious danger of coveting his neighbors wife. When we finally reach the end of Exodus, ( Is it just me or is it taking a really long time to get through this?) I think it may behoove us to do a rough comparison between the two more complete sets of laws Hammurabi’s and Moses’. We’ll see who comes out lacking.
Furthermore, most people aren’t aware of this, but there isn’t even an agreement on which ten are the actual commandments. Some groups combine certain commandments to make their ten, while other groups combine different ones. Here, look at this table from Wikipedia.
There are many disagreements even as to the numbering, and you all know what the Young Earth Creationists taught us about any disagreements among the experts when they were arguing against evolution — disagreement means the entire theory is invalid. Right? Hmm… They just may be on to something there.
At any rate, we are going to go into these in some depth over the next two posts. First, we’ll cover the God Commandments, the first four according to the fundies. After that we’ll get into the purely human restrictions against ass-coveting and others. This, my fine friends, is going to be a ball.
Just don’t be looking covetously at my ass, I mean, donkey!
Ah, hell! I’ve changed my mind. Go right ahead.