13 May 2010

Let's Make the Ten Commandments Law

I think it is time to take the advice of Sarah Palin and so many others and make the 10 commandments the law of our land. For those of you who may not recall just what those commandments are, let’s go through them (The New International Version is, by most accounts, the most accurate translation), using Exodus 20: 3-17.

1. "You shall have no other gods before me.
Some argue that this is evidence that the Jews were not so much monotheists as a people who believed in many gods (sort of polytheists) but only worshipped one. Such arguments begin to muddle things, it seems to me, and I’ll just go with the more literal interpretation: the first commandment suggests that we must accept the God of Moses. Simply put, we need to become Jewish. This will be a change for the nearly 98% of Americans who are not, but if we’re serious about inviting God’s blessing I don’t think that this is too much to ask.

2. “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
So, no images of lions, cougars, and marlins that we might idolize. Hmm. So, no sports team mascots as near as I can tell. To me, this can only mean that we stop idolizing sports teams and their stars, so starting with high school teams we’ll do away with competitive sports. Again, this should not be too much to ask when we think of what is at stake. (And really, I'm open to other suggestions but I will simply say that if we start dismissing commandments starting at the second one, we run the risk of ending up where we are now.)

3. "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”
This might mean no cussing that involves taking the Lord’s name in vain (which always seemed distasteful to me anyways). It might also mean that one not mis-use the name of God in political matters, using the approval you imagine he has given you to win votes.

4. "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
So, simple enough. Sort of. No businesses will be open on a Saturday. I’m not sure how we’ll handle businesses like rest homes, hospitals, and emergency services but I’m sure we can make exceptions. It’ll just be the shopping malls, grocery stores, TV stations, radio stations, Internet sites, gas stations, hotels, and, of course, sports complexes that will close down from Friday at sundown to Saturday at sundown.

5. "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.”
This seems simple enough (although it may be more involved than merely sending a card on Mother’s Day).

6. "You shall not murder.”
Well, this will save on military expenses, end the debate on abortion AND capital punishment, and add to longevity as we all become vegetarians.

7. "You shall not commit adultery.”
Given that half of marriages end in divorce and about half of married people have committed adultery, this one is going to require an adjustment. For starters, we simply outlaw divorce. In fact, I think it would be a good idea to require all divorced or separated people to get back with their first spouse. Or become celibate. Again, I’ll leave the details of this re-partnering program to the politicians.

8. "You shall not steal.”
Presumably this would not apply retroactively. It would be a shame to have to give this beautiful country back to the Indians.

9. "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”
This has always seemed like a great idea to me. Seriously. But if we’re going to treat it as law of the land rather than a simple injunction for believers, perhaps we should make use of the affordable technology that would allow us to monitor anyone at all times. (This could also come in handy for determining things like adherence to the 5th or 7th commandments.) This way, anyone falsely accused could produce video proof that the neighbor is lying. Trials would involve footage showing what the neighbor did or said. No more, “he said,” “she said.”

10. "You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."
I’ll leave this to theologians to explain in more detail but I’m pretty sure that among other things, this means no advertising. Properly done, only seduction is more effective for making people covet. I realize that this would hurt a major industry and leave TV, radio, and the Internet without a source of revenue and likely depress GDP as well, but again … this should not be too much to ask of a country sincere about winning God’s approval.

Shalom. And call your mother.


Ben said...

You know, really, this could save us a lot of money in the legislative branch - no more need to worry about creating or modifying laws once we enact this.

But I fear the cost of enforcing and interpreting these ten new laws may be pretty high for the executive and judicial branches.

Thomas said...

I would take the third commandment to also mean you can't say things like "God told me to invade Iraq" or "God hates gays."

And I think there's a loophole in #7 in that it doesn't rule out polygamy, if you want to.

The fourth one means I have to work six days a week instead of five, so I'm pretty sure that one was just a suggestion (or maybe a typo). At any rate, it mentions aliens, so this one wouldn't apply to Arizona.

Ron Davison said...

good point about the legislative costs. We could probably do away with a representative assembly and simply have a king. A divinely appointed one, of course, which suggests that the judicial costs don't have to be so very high. We might not even need lawyers.

you're starting to sound like one of those activist judges or secular lawyers. The point is not to quibble over these very clear laws.

nunya said...

Thanks for this post, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

gabby57 said...

Given how the Left an Right seem to have turned their respective parties into pseudo-religions, will #2 mean the "Jack Ass" and "Dumbo" will have to be discarded?

Damon said...

hmm. to be honest...most of these seem reasonable to me! give or take some minor societal adjustments, I think Sarah's not completely insane on this particular count :)

I just wish it would be a standard set by people everywhere in their hearts, not by their governments.

David said...

Good thought Damon. While I love Ron's humor there is some merit to these commandments and to Sarah's advice to apply them to our everyday lives. She's mostly insane though but still could have done a better job than Barry is doing.