Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Commandment #1 of 10

So I am writer out some posts speaking about each of the 10 commandments.  As I mentioned in my last post, there are many people out there under delusions that the 10 commandments are brilliant and that they are the basis for our moral code in this country.

Thou shalt have no other gods before me.  Exodus 20:3

Well there you have it, one of the shorter commandments in the list, commanding us to put god first. 
Historically this passage actually referred to other gods.  Judaism formed in in the middle of a world which was polytheistic.  As a result the Israelite believed in multiple gods, this command was to let them know that they had to put their god before these other ones.  This is actually a fairly typical command of any tribal deity (as Yahweh certainly was at this time).  Worshiping the god of another land would have looked very similar to treason to most of a persons neighbors at the time.

Modern spin:

Most modern Christians like to ignore the tribal roots of Judaism and instead tend to interpret this commandment as a metaphor.  Instead of talking about literal gods modern believers will refer to mundane things that distract them from "following god."  A pastors jargon from the pulpit will typically reference things like money, fame, sex, porn, video games, and generally anything that people enjoy.  


Well this most obvious criticism is that it makes god look like a narcissist.  He gives a top ten list of ethical rules and the first thing out of his mouth is "hey everybody look at me!"   It is hard for me to imagine that a being capable of creating a whole universe is going to be terribly concerned with whether or not I remembered to thank him for it.

Of course Christians try to spin this by saying that the command is really for our benefit.  They will often say that god only wants us follow him first because it will make us better or happier or more attractive...

OK, I made that last one up.

In any case this argument really doesn't work either factually or logically.  Factually it doesn't work because there are so many people who believe in other gods, or no god at all and seem just as happy and well adjusted as any Christian.  Logically it doesn't work because it leaves unanswered the question of why god would choose to create beings that must kiss up to him in order to be happy.

To illustrate lets compare god to a parent for a moment, since that comparison is made quite often by the bible and by believers.  Would anyone of us think well of a person who raised their child to be totally dependent on them for their entire life and unable to make even the simplest of choices with out checking with their mom or dad first?  Or would would think better of a parent who raised their child to be independent, to go their own way, and to live their own life?  I think we all know the answer to those questions.


This should be really obvious, there is nothing anywhere in the constitution or any part of the law that mirrors this commandment even slightly.  For that matter it would be impossible to do so in its present form. If one wanted to make it a law they would need to be much more specific, giving very clear instruction on what actions would count as putting something ahead of god.  

So commandment #1 is not part of our legal system and is far to vague on its own to even count as a law.  I see no reason to think that the founding fathers of the United States ever once took this commandment into account when designing the constitution.

1 comment:

  1. First of all, Ceiling Moth is hysterical...or at least almost hysterical. I may have to spend a few hours on that website today.

    "A pastors jargon from the pulpit will typically reference things like money, fame, sex, porn, video games, and generally anything that people enjoy."

    Oh we know that's true. Anything that I liked when I was in youth group was 'un-Christian" and causing me to lose sight of God. I got so much crap from youth pastors for listening to music that wasn't Christian. One actually tried to confiscate my CD case from me at church camp because he saw a Linkin Park CD in it.