I have sometimes heard that the Bible has the Ten Commandments and not the “Ten Suggestions.” I’m not so sure that Yahweh thinks so based on the Scriptures themselves, since He appears to break or flout them all. You be the judge…
1. You shall have no other gods before me.
Deuteronomy 6:4 reads: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” This statement is a cornerstone of the traditional Jewish faith. Jews, Muslims, Arians, and Jehovah’s Witnesses, to name a few, think that Trinitarian Christian theology would have God breaking the first commandment on a regular basis. As it says in the Qur’an, “the Messiah, Isa [Jesus] son of Marium is only an apostle of Allah and His Word … believe therefore in Allah and his apostles and say not, Three. Desist, it is better for you, Allah is only one God; far be it from His glory that He should have a son.”
Incidentally, the Trinity, often regarded as one of the most important doctrine of traditional Christians, is also one of the best arguments against the bedrock Protestant doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture. Does any “simpleton” clearly find in the Bible that Yahweh should be described in the unintelligible formula of three Persons but still one God? Do the Scriptures clearly represent the incomprehensible interrelationships between an uncreated Holy Spirit who proceeds through a Son who was “begotten” but not made and who is consubstantial with his eternal Father? Is there any wonder why so many people of faith think that the Trinity is a bogus construct that is a cover for polytheism?
2. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything.
Just a few chapters after the Law is given, Yahweh apparently forgets his commandments and asks the Israelites to make images of cherubim and put them on the ark of the covenant (see Ex 25:18-20).
In Colossians 1:15, the following is said about Jesus: “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” God, apparently, made an image of himself in Jesus.
3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
In Matthew 27:46 (quoting Ps 22:1), Jesus in his despair calls out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” This would seem both irreverent and improper, as He appears to be losing faith and asserting that God has abandoned him. From a Trinitarian perspective, this verse is especially interesting as (1) Jesus would know that God had not forsaken him because he is God and (2) he was in effect calling out a question to himself. (I.e., “Myself, myself, why have I forsaken myself?”)
4. Remember the Sabbath.
When asked by the Pharisees why he was breaking the Sabbath, Jesus does not deny the infraction but merely states: ““The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” (Lk 6:5).
As the Seventh Day Adventists like to point out, most Christians don’t keep the Sabbath (which is on Saturday). Certainly, there have been many different Christian ideas about whether there even is a “Christian Sabbath”—and if so, how such a Sabbath ought to be observed.
5. Honor your father and mother.
In Luke 14:26, Jesus says “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” Who knows how many people have left their parents in the lurch to become monks or missionaries in observance of this command?
Furthermore, Jesus certainly pained his parents considerably by staying behind in Jerusalem without their knowledge when he was only twelve years of age. As the Gospel of Luke states, ”When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” Being God, Jesus would have known that his parents were worrying. Yet he seems to callously reply: “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Lk 2:48-29). If you had a 12-year-old son who deliberately ran off in a big city knowing that you would be very worried (and also delaying your trip home), would you not feel dishonored?
6. You shall not kill.
Murder is, of course, the taking of an innocent life. God does this too many times to count. It is clear that He directly killed innocent children and the unborn when He flooded the earth in Genesis 7. In (one of many examples) from the conquest of Canaan, he clearly instructed the Israelites to kill infants and children: “Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys’” (1 Sam 15:3).
The enormity of these acts can really only be understood if you personalize them. What would you think of Yahweh if these were your children, children that you loved and cared for deeply?
I have read that God killed over two million people in the Bible whereas Satan only got ten. No wonder Denis Diderot remarked that “There is no good father who would want to resemble our Heavenly Father.”
7. You shall not commit adultery.
In flagrant violation of the principle that marriage is between one man and one woman, God allowed David and Solomon to have multiple wives (cf. NC Amendment One chatter). The Lord says to David in 2 Samuel 12:8, “I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more.” As far as I can tell, God did not have a problem with David’s concubines either (e.g., 2 Sam 5:13).
I have heard many complain that homosexual marriage is wrong because God created Adam and Eve, not “Adam and Steve.” While that may be an accurate statement, he also did not create (with deference to Lou Bega) Adam and a little bit of Eve, and Monica, and Erica, and Rita, and Tina, and Sandra, and Mary, and Jessica…
8. You shall not steal.
God commanded the Israelites to take goods, slaves, and livestock from the Canaanites either by force or threat of force “When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves” (Deut 20:10-14).
As was noted in the discussion on the 6th commandment, this is best understood if it is viewed in the context of actual people that you know. This represents, at the command of God, destroyed homes, broken families, lost life savings, shattered dreams, and excruciating pain.
9. You shall not lie (bear false witness).
In 1 Kings 22:22-23, the Lord commands a lying spirit to deceive people so that He can harm them: “So now the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The Lord has decreed disaster for you.”
Jesus claims repeatedly in Revelation 22 that he is “coming soon.” (He’s quite late now.) For an interesting discussion of things that Jesus said about prayer that aren’t true, see http://www.whywontgodhealamputees.com/
10. You shall not covet.
Just a few verses before this last commandment is given, Yahweh seems to make it clear that He will disregard it. For he says in the text of the Ten commandments themselves, “for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents 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” (Ex 20:5b-6).
Perhaps you will point out that there is a distinction to be made between “covetousness” and “jealousy.” If that distinction applies here, it would do precious little to confirm God’s virtue. As has been noted, “among human beings jealousy ranks distinctly as a weakness; a trade-mark of small minds, yet a property which even the smallest is ashamed of.”
Furthermore, Yahweh’s words clearly demonstrate his injustice as (1) He cursed all people in the Fall and made them morally weak, (2) He had not provided the Holy Spirit at Pentecost yet (which is supposed to help in some way), (3) the verses themselves show that God planned on punishing people who were not even born yet for things they were not a party to, and (4) in His perfections, He would have been in no way hurt because certain frail mortals gave worship to other imaginary beings.
Since God committed so many sins and acted with such cruelty and hypocrisy, one wonders if He will show mercy to Himself on the Day of Judgment. If His Word is supreme, will the measure He uses be measured unto Him? (cf. Mk 4:24.) And does this mean that Christ’s sacrifice for Christians is meaningless because God had to die for His own sins? Furthermore, will He have to spend forever being tortured in hell for sinning against His own holy nature?
It seems clear to me that even if such a God as the one portrayed in the Bible existed, He could not be trusted to be true to any promise or treat anyone justly. Moreover, one might ask if Satan had written a Bible, how much different would it be than the one we have? Would it not also have unintelligible confusion, abject cruelty, blunt contradictions, and hypocrisy? But perhaps Satan did have a hand in it. As it is written, “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve” (2 Cor. 11:14-15).
This post is not meant to suggest that the Ten Commandments have no moral value or that people should be free to kill, murder, steal, and lie at will. (Who would want to live in a society like that?) Rather, it is an attempt to illustrate that the simple fact that the Bible is a mixed bag. As Mark Twain aptly noted, “It is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies.” Many believe that life would be too confusing without a perfect Bible as an absolute guide to morality. I believe the more relevant observation is that, based on the actual content of the Scriptures themselves, they are simply not a perfect moral guide regardless of what any other options might be. The human race is much better off following common ethical principles found among most every group and nation—namely, compassion, honesty, justice, loyalty, courage and the like.
I believe with Thomas Huxley that traditional dogmatic faith is both an intellectual and moral problem. It is intellectual because many do not show sufficient interest in the abundance of available information which refutes Christian dogmatism. It is moral because the virtue of honesty demands the admission that Yahweh is not perfect, that the Bible has huge problems, and that the morass of competing Christian doctrines in 38,000 Christian denominations are but a symptom of nonsensical and contradictory biblical teachings. (I should note that Christians have not been and are not now unanimous on what books should be in the Bible—but that’s another topic...)
I would ask you to be deep-down honest with yourself. I used to be a dogmatic Christian and know firsthand how painful it is to try to justify the absurd. I know what it is like to be trapped in the debilitating and irrational cycle of feeling exhorted to refrain from dishonesty, of trying to believe the unbelievable, and of fearing hell for doubting the doubtful. If you were to ignore the pressures of family and community, if you were to set aside your fear of hell and judgment, and if you were to be completely sincere and truthful, do you really think that there are no problems with the Bible? Do its pages really show a consistent and perfect Being?
Life is better if you let it go. For your own sake, I hope you will. Hold to principle—to justice, love, compassion, kindness, honesty, loyalty. Let go of the sentiment that believing the dubious is a virtue, or that any just being would punish you for being honest with yourself.
In : Religion
Tags: "1o commandments" exodus morality "old testament"
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