Ever think about how glibly the Ten Commandments are evoked? Ten! Hey, that’s a lot. Now quick, tell me what they are. Betcha’ can’t. I couldn’t, and so I googled them with the “feeling lucky” button, which took me to a site wherein I learned that these commandments, far from being “written in stone,” are presented quite differently by Jews (for whom they were first written), Catholics, and Protestants. But there is enough commonality between them to allow from some general comments on them, and the move by certain Americans to turn our fair land into a theocracy, in much the same manner as the fundamentlist Islamic nations which are now perceived to be our enemies. (What a victory for those terrorists, who turned so many of us into them, right?)
I’ll cut to the chase. IMHO only three of these vaunted commandements even deserve to be taken seriously as laws to live by: Don’t kill, don’t steal, and don’t bear false witness. (Incredibly, the commandment against murder was expunged from the list when Moses rewrote the commandments, after smashing the first stone tablets!) Anyway, what kind of a God was it who would put at the top of the list: Hold no other God above me! Gee, the Muslims say the same thing: There is only one Allah! If ever anyone needed a clue that these commandments were written by power-hungry patriarchs, this is it. Commandment number one is: Don’t you dare pay any attention to those prophets across the mountains, in the next valley!
And then there’s all this business about “graven images,” which was written by Moses in such a way as to prohibit ALL graven images. Hello! Message from the 21st century. We now live in an image-saturated world. How could the Supreme Court, let alone serious leaders in various states, expect the population to take this seriously? What? We should close down all the image gravers–all the magazines, all the broadcast media, not to mention all of the arts, and drag our women back to the caves, where these commandments seem to have originated?
And then there’s all this stuff about “coveting” in the last two commandments. As in coveting your neighbor’s wife or his ass. These have been interpreted (by serious scholars, mind you) as the “psychological” commandments. This is where we are told it is just as bad to have bad thoughts as it is to do bad things. (Though apparently it’s okay to think about killing someone, just don’t lust after them or their property.) As ridiculous as these coveting commandments are, is it not surprising to find support on the far right for the demonization of greed, which is how the anti-property-coveting commandment should be interpreted? Hello. Is the USA not now in the iron grip of the Greed Party? A party put in place by millions of People of Faith, who would like to replace the American Constitution with the Ten Commandments? Good thing there’s no commandment against strange bedfellows!
And finally, there is the commandment against adultery. This is actually the big kahuna, IMHO. It is from this commandment that stems the entire demonization-of-sex mindset that so characterizes Christianity, Judaism, and Isalm too. According to the true believers, sex should only be put in the service of procreation. Period. The more liberal-minded of the true believers might allow some recreational sex between those married folk who are lucky enough to have a “flame that won’t go out.” As for the rest of us: burn, baby, burn. The Ten Commandments are not only loony tune morality (as seen by one of my patron saints, Mark Twain), but they are mean-spirited to the core. They make it a crime to be human. What is a proud human being to do in the face of this kind of anti-human tyranny? Burn, baby, burn. But it’s up to YOU whether you want to burn in hell, or burn with righteous contempt for the bible tyrants.
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