A Germanic Pagan Looks at the Ten Commandments
Once, the Ten Commandments were by law posted in schoolrooms in the great
Commonwealth of Kentucky and other places around the USA. Now, efforts are being
made to post them here and elsewhere. Most folks in these parts seem to
think that's a great idea. However, I'd also bet that most of those same folks
couldn't even quote them from memory! Let's take a quick look at the Ten
Commandments and see just what all the ruckus is about I'll be quoting from them
(in abbreviated form) from Exodus 20:1-17, King James version of the Bible.
That's the second book in the Bible, in case you didn't know. I'll start with
commandments 5-10 for reasons which will soon become apparent.
5. "Honor thy father and thy mother." It's hard to argue with that.
However, with all the child abuse, child molestation, etc. coming to light these
days (I'm sure it's been going on all along) I must say that respect is a
two-way street You can honor your parents without doing, saying and thinking
whatever they want you to. You have a right to make your own choices as an
adult, whether or not your parents approve. Wise parents understand that their
adult children may have needs, dreams and aspirations very different from their
own. The best way to honor bad parents is by not being like them!
6. "Thou shalt not kill." My understanding is that the Hebrew is more
properly translated as "Thou shalt not commit murder." Everyone but a few
sociopaths would agree with that! Please note that the Bible never mentions
abortion, affirmatively or negatively. Whether or not there is such a thing as a
"just war" is something Christians and others have argued over for millennia.
Personally, I'd gladly fight to protect my family, faith, friends and country,
but I wouldn't die for Big Oil!
7. "Thou shalt not commit adultery." There's little joy in it anyway, what
with the fear, the guilt and the sneaking. ...If you can't be happy with one
partner (which is what seems to work best for most individuals), work out an
open relationship and take due hygienic precautions. Please note that sexual
relations between unmarried individuals are NOT "adultery"; although the same
precautions do, of course, apply, and nothing in life, even (perhaps especially)
celibacy, is devoid of risk of one sort or another. None of us, except a few
astronauts, will ever leave this world alive, so live boldly and joyously!
8. "Thou shalt not steal." As a rule, this is a good idea. However, if the
ONLY way you can feed yourself and your family is to steal, then a higher
obligation (that of surviving and helping loved ones to survive) comes into
play. Fortunately, this doesn't happen too often today in developed countries,
although, in this Heathen's opinion, President (?) "Dubya" is doing his
9. "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." Gossip and
lying destroy communities, and we humans are by nature social animals. This is a
useful bit of wisdom, whether or not it is of divine origin.
10. "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's ..." (home, slaves, wife,
livestock and other property). Yes, greed will eat you up alive and ruin your
life if you let it. In this day of rampant credit card abuse and resultant
bankruptcies, we would do well to reflect on this. However, please note that
this commandment implicitly endorses slavery and the idea that a woman is her
husband's property. And they want to plaster THAT up all over public
Commandments 5 - 10 deal with social relationships in what was for the
time a fairly complex and well-organized society. Commandments 1 - 4 are of a
different nature entirely. Here we enter the fascinating but obscure realm of
myth and tribal taboo:
1. "I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out
of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other Gods before me." First of all,
"before" seems to imply that Jehovah isn't insisting on Monotheism, just star
billing. In either case, what a prima donna! Jealousy is more suited to spoiled
brats than to Gods! My understanding is that "beside" would more accurately
reflect the meaning of the original Hebrew. Be that as it may, I was never a
slave (at least not in this lifetime) and I've never even been to Egypt! Most of
my ancestors came here to the USA from the British Isles. In any case, it's none
of the government's business whether an individual believes in one God, twenty
Gods or no God at all! Thomas Jefferson said so, and he was right! This IS a
free country, after all.
2. "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image." This can be
interpreted in a number of ways. Strict Muslims won't even make a representation
of the animal or human form for fear someone might worship it! Observant Jews,
however, can keep a copy of the Venus de Milo or other image of Pagan Deities in
their homes as long as they make a small scratch on its nose to show that they
pay it no reverence! Neither of the above religions makes use of images as aids
to worship. By the way, folks who do don't worship the image, they use the image
as a means to connect with What it represents! Christians have argued over this
commandment almost from day one of their religion's existence, and have reached
various conclusions. Please note, however, that the vast majority of the world's
Christians are members of The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches and
DO use images (statues or icons) in their public and private worship. I doubt
they'd want stuff put up on public buildings accusing them of idolatry!
3. "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain." When I was
a kid, I used to get this quoted at me every time I'd get mad and yell "Oh my
God!' However, in Spanish "?Ay Dios mio!" (which means exactly the same thing)
is as mild as milk! I think this shows that Commandment #3 is open to various
interpretations. I believe the original meaning was to prohibit using Jehovah's
name (primitive belief often equated a thing's name with the thing itself;
remember what I said about tribal taboo) to make a false oath. Lying is
definitely un-cool, unless, of course, you have Jews hiding in your basement and
armed Nazis are asking you about it. In that case, lie away with a big smile and
a clear conscience!
4. "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." Folks, the Sabbath is
SATURDAY (or, more precisely, sundown Friday to sundown Saturday), making this
perhaps the most violated of the Ten Commandments! Saturday is still "sabado" in
Spanish. Yes, everybody needs a day off every now and then, but that's not what
this is about. This is a holy day of the Jewish faith (Christians appropriated
the Jewish scriptures without permission and then added their own writings.)
Obviously, none of this is any of the government's business, but just try to buy
a bottle of wine at the store on Sunday to go with your after-church dinner!
Yes, Baptists aside, most of the world's Christians would see nothing wrong with
the above scenario.
It should be obvious from the above that the government of a free country
has no business endorsing the first Four of the Ten Commandments! The other Six
are as a whole good ideas, despite some outdated language and concepts. However,
I am sure there are better ways to encourage individuals to behave in an honest
and socially responsible manner than quoting ancient texts in whose inspiration
the majority of Humanity does not believe.
Religions belong in homes and houses of worship, not the government! This
is the only way to preserve freedom in our religiously diverse nation and
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Suggested Web Resources
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