(These commandments were taken from the King James edition of the Bible)
- Thou shalt have no other Gods before me.
I find this to be unusual for a number of reasons. First, the wording may suggest that there could be other Gods that could receive the attention of humanity. Second, this commandment is placed at the very top, signifying that it is the most important. This would suggest an extremely jealous God who really needs to be loved the most.
- Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven or above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
This seems to discourage iconography and representational art. Should this be the case than those wearing crucifixes may be in error to do so. In addition to this I wonder if Christian works such as the paintings within the Sistine chapel should be frowned upon also. I would be happy for an apologist to educate me here.
- Thou shalt not take the name of thy Lord thy God in vain.
I would challenge any apologist to explain this in such a way that it is clear and without room for error. If one was to start cursing in conjunction with the word “God” then I accept that a person of faith may claim to be offended. However, what happens when innocent people are murdered in the name of God? Or children are raped in holy buildings? Is this also considered blasphemous?
- Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
This is a rather long winded command that goes on to state that neither you nor any of your servants/slaves or animals shall perform any tasks of labour, as it is the day that the Lord rested. One query I would have with this is why do omnipotent beings need rest? Also, why would such an occasion demand replication? Can’t we have a day off for its own sake? There is no threat of a punishment here either, which is somewhat refreshing.
- Honour thy Father and thy Mother
…That thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
I have no quarrel with the idea that one should honour thy parents (unless given good reason to do otherwise). What troubles me is that there is an incentive to do so; surely there is greater morality to be found in doing this for its own sake? Respect, love and adoration for another person should not be reinforced with a mentality of “what are the materialistic advantages to this?”
- Thou shalt not kill.
A very straight forward and agreeable command, but does it really need to be [forgive me] set in stone? Are we expected to believe that before this command was issued, people thought it was acceptable to kill? (I am referring to the maintenance of a society as a whole). This does not need to be labelled as a commandment as we as a species know that it is not progressive to our mutual interest in survival. Yes, we have accounts of murders in every recorded civilisation that has graced the planet; we also have accounts of the following punishments. Religion cannot take credit for moral stance.
- Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Again, an agreeable command but my point here is similar to the previous commandment. We are a possessive and materialistic species and our capacity to love profoundly is well documented in all aspects of our history, as such we are compelled to make this action a crime. Adultery in many cases causes a huge amount of pain and emotional stress. On a personal note, I refuse to take any command from an organised body regarding marital affairs when that body condemns homosexuality (it is a form of love, not just sex) and is run by a hysterical group of virgins.
- Thou shalt not steal.
This certainly falls into the same “common sense” category as ‘Thou shalt not murder’ and ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery’. I would ask anyone to provide an example of a culture that finds stealing ok. Also, is there anyone who can look another person in the eye and make the claim that the church has never broken this, or any of the other commandments?
- Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
A noticeable jump in complexity. The commandments (or at least the first account of them) were issued at a time where there was a huge need for verbal agreements; the talents to be found in the realms of acumen were nowhere near as prominent as that of the Chinese. The best example of this lies within the context of legal hearings.
If you are able to convince a populace that they are under permanent divine supervision and that their thoughts, actions and desires are being constantly documented by God, then you greatly reduce their compulsion to lie when placed within a ‘formal’ legal environment. Why would people lie if they are afraid of the eternal fire? I would also ask why we swear on the bible in today’s court.
- 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.
To covet is to want something that belongs to someone else. You may covet a person’s income, their house or maybe even the love and respect they command from the people around them. However, coveting is not a physical action; it is in fact a feeling or a thought. In essence, you are being told not to even THINK about doing something. You are at risk of committing a thought crime.
There are two ways that coveting can be considered. Naturally, we would disapprove of anyone and their subsequent actions should they use their potential jealousy to steal. But what of the people who observes another’s wealth and thinks “I’m going to work hard so that I can have that too”, are they at fault from deriving inspiration from coveting?