Two out of ten isn’t that bad, right?

Yesterday was Blasphemy Rights Day. A day intended primarily to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of expression, especially of opinions which are contrary to religious views. After all, why should I, a non-believer, be beholden to another’s self-imposed rules? With this thought I decided to see how well I would measure up to some of those rules. Rather than messing about with about petty things like eating bacon or wearing clothes of more than one fabric, I decided to opt for the ten commandments. Surely everyone lives their life pretty much adhering to those, right? Well, it turns out I didn’t do so well.

First off, I should clarify that I’m using the first set of ten commandments (there are four in the Bible: Exodus 20, Exodus 34, Deuteronomy 5 and Deuteronomy 27), from the King James Bible.

1. No other gods

“I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

Seeing as I don’t believe in any god(s), I immediately fail this one.

2. No graven images

“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.”

If I read this literally it seems to ban all sculpture, painting and drawing. Looks like I fail another one. I’ve definitely doodled things that exist.

3. No taking god’s name in vain

“Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.”

God’s an arse. That makes three.

4. No work on Sundays

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”

Seeing as I’m writing this on a Sunday, that must count against me. Even if it didn’t, I have worked on a Sunday. I’m not doing well here. I’ve failed four out of four so far.

5. Honour your parents

“Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”

Hmm… I certainly misbehaved at times when I was young. So I guess that counts. That’s five for five now.

6. No murder

“Thou shalt not kill.”

I’ve definitely never killed anyone. So I must pass this one. However, during his sermon on the mount, Jesus says:

“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgement”
Matthew 5:21-22

I have certainly felt unjust anger towards another person, and according to Jesus that’s the same as murder. So I lose again, bringing my ‘failure score’ to six.

7. No adultery

“Thou shalt not commit adultery.”

Ok. This one I know I haven’t broken. Or so I thought until Jesus butted in again:

“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”
Matthew 5:27-28

You just can’t win! Seven.

8. No theft

“Thou shalt not steal.”

I think I can genuinely (and very cautiously, given the last two) state that I have not knowingly broken this commandment, no matter how you interpret it. So, finally, I win one!

9. No perjury

“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.”

This one’s a little open to interpretation. If it only pertains to lying in court, then I’ve never broken this one. However, some people interpret this as including lying of any kind. In which case I fail. Seeing as I’m doing so badly, can we agree to give me this one?

10. No coveting

“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.”

This commandment is stupid, and the hardest to keep. It outlaws desiring that which does not belong to you. It creates a thought-crime. You can be convicted of breaking this law just by thinking about wanting something. How absurd! It gets worse, though, when you realise that the entire world’s economy is based upon breaking this commandment. Without coveting, there would be no trade. Furthermore, jealousy and desire can sometimes be a good thing. It drives people to better themselves. To make a law against it is silly. Or to put it another way: I lose again.

The final tally

So that’s all ten. How did I do? Well it looks like I’ve only managed to keep two of the ten commandments. Well, just one if you decide that to “bear false witness” means to tell a lie. And zero if picking up a twenty pence piece I found in the street counts as theft. Yet I doubt any of the people who know me would (seriously) call me an evil/immoral person. Maybe the ten commandments aren’t such a good moral guide…

For a more detailed (and quite entertaining) discussion of the adequacy of the ten commandments I thoroughly recommend the following two links:

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One Response to “Two out of ten isn’t that bad, right?”

  1. Cry of the Broken | Nizy's Life Compendium Says:

    […] Two out of ten isn’t that bad, right? ( […]

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