Friday, June 1, 2007

Judeo-Christian Morality

In my last post, I laid out what I believe morality is all about. Namely, what do you do when no one is looking? Yes, I am a relativist and I don’t have the absolute of God or religious authority on my side. I inherited my sense of morality both biologically and from the Brooklynites. It has served me well so far. I’d like to take a look at what Judeo-Christian morality has to offer instead of my personal and relativistic view of the world.

In 2003, Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court Roy Moore disobeyed a federal court order to remove a monument dedicated to the Ten Commandments from a court building. He was eventually unanimously removed from office for this refusal. Mr. Moore and his supporters have steadfastly claimed that the Ten Commandments are the foundation of our society. Let’s take a look at what makes our country great, shall we? Instead of the abridged version, I’ll be quoting from the long (and far stranger) version as found in the KJV Bible, Exodus 20.

First Commandment:
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

[Wager] Really? Is morality tied to monotheism? If so, only Jews and Muslims in the US are living by Judeo-Christian values since Christians are polytheists.

Second Commandment:
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.

[Wager]God is still putting out orders not to worship idols as those Israelites certainly loved to do. Still, those crosses with Jesus on it look a lot like an idol to me… Just saying.

Third Commandment:
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.
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.
[Wager]Three commandments and I still don’t see anything that resembles morality. Just a bunch of “worship me, worship me!” Also very disturbing that a courthouse would have a monument that talks about crime passing down through generations!

Fourth Commandment:
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.

[Wager]I like vacation too, but I don’t think this is a good example of morality. There is a lovely story in Exodus involving a man collecting firewood on the Sabbath. Moses says, “Stone him!” And they do! Doesn’t sound very moral to me.


Fifth Commandment:
Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

[Wager]In most cases, honoring your parents makes a lot of sense. However, some people aren’t fit to be parents. Do we have some wiggle room here! Azmodeus, start honoring thine parents…

Sixth Commandment:
Thou shalt not kill.

[Wager]Finally, something we can all agree on and it only took six commandments. Still doesn’t take the Judeo-Christian God to come to this conclusion.

Seventh Commandment:
Thou shalt not commit adultery.

[Wager]Again, hard to argue with but most cultures have rules against this too.

Eighth Commandment:
Thou shalt not steal.

[Wager]Good rule.

Ninth Commandment:
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

[Wager]Another reasonably good rule.

Tenth Commandment:
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.
OK, coveting things may be bad and all, but notice how a wife is thrown in there with slaves and oxen.
That’s it – God’s magical top ten list and 3 out of 10 are instructions to worship Him exclusively. One is about taking a day off out of every 7 in order to honor Him. One is about honoring parents, which is good, unless your parents are assholes. Just about every other commandment exists independently in every culture without the Judeo-Christian God. Noticeably missing is any notion of children being born innocent, the amorality of slavery, racial equality, women’s suffrage, freedom of (or from) religion, or a host of other things that make our modern society great. If this is the Judeo-Christian morality upon which are entire society is based, as Mr. Moore claims, we are doomed. I still say, “Who needs God?”

20 comments:

Mike said...

"No graven images" means no more Jesus t-shirts :(

Wil said...

Division of the Commandments between different sects and religions. Kind of odd that they're all split up like that.

Bible student said...

Top 4 of 4. Now you see how seriously He takes His sovereignty. Shouldn’t you?

Christians are not polytheists (Revelation 22:8,9). When in doubt, see Commandment #1. Jesus is only as divine as Satan. Both were created. Which makes Jesus tees OK, but Mohamed tees still a no-go.

These are only the warm up for the other 300 or so rules. (now all obsolete)

AW, you would make a better Christian than an ancient Jew. Less chance of getting stoned for your indignation, and Jesus and the other Greek Scripture writers worked with principals rather than rules.

Was the federal court judge an Atheist? I’ve got the evidence on The Ten Commandments in the Supreme Court building if you would like to pass it along at your next convention.

Wil said...

@BS

1.Mohammed was considered a prophet like Isaiah, not a god. He was human like all others, just he spoke to the angel Gabriel. The Islamic god is the same as the Christian and Jewish god.

2.Why would god be jealous of other gods which don't exist?

3. http://youtube.com/watch?v=9CitfTtMIx8
It's okay to laugh, it's funny.

Miracle said...

@BS
did you just say that Jesus is as divine as Satan? woah.. I never expected to hear that from you. I'm shocked, confused and frustrated :o. Good job!

@AW
yeh, I could care less if the Ten Commandments are hung anywhere. I prefer Jesus' abridged version [quoted from Leviticus]. Love the lord with all your heart and Love your neighbor as yourself. It is much simpler and direct.
Really, this is what the 10 commandments and the ancient Hebrew people were about. Their big thing was hospitality (hence Lot rather giving up his daughters than his visitors). The entire law was set up to express how a person should interact with others and respect God.

Miracle said...

@AW
Really, I think we should have all of our different moral codes hanging from the walls. We should put Buddha, Lao Tze, **insert atheist moralist**, and whomever else next to the 10 Commandments and Jesus. This would truly represent the American nation. Not exclusive to one nor empty to any, but a giant salad for everyone.

Bible student said...

@ Wil

Yes, It's okay to laugh, “Mohamed tees still a no-go” was poking fun at this news story, from last year.

Jealous as defined “Intolerant of disloyalty or infidelity” (AH Dictionary) is a good thing according to God.

@ Miracle (or anyone else)

Quicky quiz! Match the scripture to the subject. Jesus, Satan, angels, or men.

(John 1:18) No man has seen God at any time; the only-begotten god who is in the bosom [position] with the Father is the one that has explained him.

(2 Corinthians 4:3,4)  If, now, the good news we declare is in fact veiled, it is veiled among those who are perishing, among whom the god of this system of things has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, that the illumination of the glorious good news about the Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine through.

(Psalm 82:6) . . .“I myself have said, ‘YOU are gods, And all of YOU are sons of the Most High.

(Psalm 82:1) God is stationing himself in the assembly of the Divine One; In the middle of the gods he judges.



I’m not so sure a jealous God would approve of your salad.

brenden said...

Coveting your neighbour's things is what keeps the economy going.

@BW

"Take me seriously! Take me seriously! Take me seriously!" is not a good way to convince people to take you seriously.

Atheistwager said...

@Miracle
Again you prove yourself to be so dang reasonable. I will respectfully disagree with you and say that instead of including a bunch of religions we are best off leaving our courts completely secular.

Bible student said...

@ AW

Discussion is slow on this lovely Spring evening. I hope this helps.

On the last page, speaking of the Bible, Miracle said: “Its point is to describe the relationship between God and people over the years.”

I disagree!

zilch said, “If I were given a good reason to believe the Bible is true, I would reconsider.”

I’ve looked through my Bible study information and culled these statements about the Bible, that I do agree with. In hopes that zilch has a long and prosperous life, I present them for discussion.

The Bible is the Word of God, a source of higher wisdom, uniquely able to give authoritative answers.

The Bible is God’s revelation to man, a gift that proves that he wants us to get to know him well.

The Bible is God’s Book, not the book of the men who were used to write it.

The Bible is the Creator’s prime means of communicating, inside you may find the answer to your prayers.

The message of the Bible is an excellent source of comfort and delight. The psalmist pronounced happy the man whose “delight is in the law of Jehovah, and in his law he reads in an undertone day and night.” (Psalm 1:1, 2)

“The Bible is medication for spiritual sufferings.”

The Bible is not prudish about sexual relations.

Hebrews 4:12 explains: “The word of God is alive and exerts power . . . and is able to discern thoughts and intentions of the heart.” The message of the Bible is therefore not merely the personal views or experiences of the humans whom God used as his penmen. Rather, it represents God’s thinking on moral matters.

The Bible is harmonious from beginning to end.

Because the Bible is inspired of God, it is “beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight.” (2 Timothy 3:16) A complete guide for us in every activity that is good.

Reliable prophecy gives us convincing evidence that the Bible is not of human authorship. (2 Peter 1:21) This makes it faith strengthening.

The Bible’s counsel is practical and up-to-date and contains timeless principles that are practical for modern living. Subjects such as having a successful marriage, preventing juvenile delinquency and how to gain and keep friends have proved successful to many.

The Bible is the most widely circulated and translated book in all history.

The Bible is a book for all people, meant to be understood.

The Bible is very much alive because, it can “speak” to people the world over in their own language. As a result, its message remains “at work in [its] believers.” (1 Thessalonians 2:13)

Some have decided to peer deeper into the Bible when shown God’s name, what it says about the purpose of life, why God permits wickedness, the significance of current events, or the hope of eternal life on a paradise earth. In lands where religious practices have exposed people to harassment by evil spirits, the Bible’s explanation of what causes this and how to gain relief has aroused interest. Why do these points impress sincere people? Because the Bible is the only source of reliable information on all such vital matters.

The Bible is the inexhaustible storehouse of the needed mental food.

A great number of people have sacrificed everything in order to read the Bible or make it available to others. No other book has inspired so many ordinary men and women to rise to such heights of courage. In this respect, the Bible is truly without equal.

The Bible is accurate, authentic, and inspired.

A major challenge in understanding the Bible is that of being teachable.

If it's a copy of a good study Bible that you lack, let me know by e-mail.

Atheistwager said...

@Bible Student
You have, time and time again, expressed disdain for the Roman Catholic Church which you grew up in. If the Bible were the inspired word of God as you claim, wouldn't it be written in a way that would not have allowed the RC Church to run things from 33 AD to 1500ish AD unchallenged? How did the RC Church screw it up so badly, which I'm sure both of us would agree that they did?

Bible student said...

Jesus foretold that apostates, like weeds sown among wheat, would infiltrate the Christian congregation and lead many astray. (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43)

24 Another illustration he set before them, saying: “The kingdom of the heavens has become like a man that sowed fine seed in his field. 25 While men were sleeping, his enemy came and oversowed weeds in among the wheat, and left. 26 When the blade sprouted and produced fruit, then the weeds appeared also. 27 So the slaves of the householder came up and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow fine seed in your field? How, then, does it come to have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy, a man, did this.’ They said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go out and collect them?’ 29 He said, ‘No; that by no chance, while collecting the weeds, YOU uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest; and in the harvest season I will tell the reapers, First collect the weeds and bind them in bundles to burn them up, then go to gathering the wheat into my storehouse.’”

36 Then after dismissing the crowds he went into the house. And his disciples came to him and said: “Explain to us the illustration of the weeds in the field.” 37 In response he said: “The sower of the fine seed is the Son of man; 38 the field is the world; as for the fine seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; but the weeds are the sons of the wicked one, 39 and the enemy that sowed them is the Devil. The harvest is a conclusion of a system of things, and the reapers are angels. 40 Therefore, just as the weeds are collected and burned with fire, so it will be in the conclusion of the system of things. 41 The Son of man will send forth his angels, and they will collect out from his kingdom all things that cause stumbling and persons who are doing lawlessness, 42 and they will pitch them into the fiery furnace. There is where [their] weeping and the gnashing of [their] teeth will be. 43 At that time the righteous ones will shine as brightly as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let him that has ears listen.

As did Paul (Acts 20:29-31)
29 I know that after my going away oppressive wolves will enter in among YOU and will not treat the flock with tenderness, 30 and from among YOU yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.
31 “Therefore keep awake, and bear in mind that for three years, night and day, I did not quit admonishing each one with tears.

and Jude (Jude 3,4)
Beloved ones, though I was making every effort to write YOU about the salvation we hold in common, I found it necessary to write YOU to exhort YOU to put up a hard fight for the faith that was once for all time delivered to the holy ones. 4 My reason is that certain men have slipped in who have long ago been appointed by the Scriptures to this judgment, ungodly men, turning the undeserved kindness of our God into an excuse for loose conduct and proving false to our only Owner and Lord, Jesus Christ.

In time, these so-called Christians adopted pagan festivals, practices, and teachings, even labeling them “Christian.” For example, Christmas has its origin in rites involving the worship of the pagan deities Mithra and Saturn. But what induced professed Christians to adopt these unchristian celebrations? Says The New Encyclop√¶dia Britannica (1974): “Christmas, the festival of the birth of Jesus Christ, was established in connection with a fading of the expectation of Christ’s imminent return.”

Consider also the distortion of the meaning of the word “kingdom.” The book The Kingdom of God in 20th-Century Interpretation states: “Origen [a third-century theologian] marks the change in Christian usage of ‘kingdom’ to the interior meaning of the rule of God in the heart.” On what did Origen base his teaching? Not on the Scriptures, but on “the framework of a philosophy and world view quite different from the thought world of Jesus and the earliest church.” In his work De Civitate Dei (The City of God), Augustine of Hippo (354-430 C.E.) stated that the church itself is the Kingdom of God. Such unscriptural thinking gave the churches of Christendom theological grounds to embrace political power. And they wielded such power for many centuries, often with brutality.

You know the song, He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands, BUNK.

This is Satan’s dominion, for now. He wasn’t lying when Al Pacino depicted him in Devil’s Advocate. “Who could possibly deny the twentieth century was entirely mine.”

About his ouster from heaven, Revelation 12:12 says “On this account be glad, YOU heavens and YOU who reside in them! Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to YOU, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.”

Stick around, the tables are soon to turn.

Bible student said...

Lest you think God is just slacking off, consider this.

Last week in "Christian Origins", I took issue with:

“After thousands of years of being pissed at Adam and Eve, God came up with a way that we can ALL come to know Him.”

It was closer to immediately. God speaking to Satan, Genesis 3:15 says “And I shall put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise you in the head and you will bruise him in the heel.”

The first bible prophecy. Jesus came into Satan’s territory and Satan was able to put Christ out of commission for three days. The last laugh goes to Christ, who inflicts the shot to the head, that takes out Satan permanently.

choosebro said...

@BS

"The Bible is the Creator’s prime means of communicating, inside you may find the answer to your prayers."

It's too bad that god doesn't exist then.

zilch said...

@ bible student- I'm sure your panegyrics about the Bible are sincere and well meant, but as I said earlier: for them to convince me, I would have to already believe in God. What I meant by a "good reason" was, a reason outside of the Bible that convinces me of its truth. And I've seen no such reason. Quite the contrary- the Bible is obviously, like all religions, an agglomeration of history, myths, parables, and laws. A lot of the morals are still sensible- it's hard to beat the Golden Rule as a society-builder. But the Word of God it is not, and thus deserves no more (or less) consideration than any other set of morals.

bravo9 said...

Morals are relative to the current day and age. There are so many things in the Bible that quite simply are not morally acceptable today – slavery, suppression of women, killing of homosexuals, and child abuse to name only a few. If readers are to take anything from it, they are left to pick and choose the pieces that fit in today's moral boundaries. The problem is that the Bible does not provide a guideline for which is which – so what happens if somebody misinterprets the context and assumes one of the bad things to be good?

The bottom line is that, on any given moral dilemma, you can randomly sample people from all religions and find a consensus of what is right and what is wrong. That fact seems to indicate that humans have a moral intuition that is derived from something other than religion.

Miracle said...

@bravo9

Good comment about the relativity of morality. You make a very good point about how one could pick and choose in the Bible a defined set of morality. I choose to follow Jesus' message in the gospels the most "Love God, Love neighbor" and think the slavery and killing of homosexuals is irrelevant and unimportant. This doesn't mean that someone else [insert fundamentalist name] will look and see the slavery and homosexuality teachings and follow them.

So what does this mean for the Bible?

zilch said...

Miracle- what this means for the Bible, and here I probably agree with bible student: either the Bible is the Word of God, or it is not. If I do not accept parts of the Bible, then there is no reason to believe in any of it. That is, there is no more reason to believe in any of the Bible than in, say, the Koran, or the Zendavesta, or the Declaration of Independence. Once we get to picking and choosing, there are no preordained favorites.

Marciepooh said...

I'm just going to throw out my two cents worth in.

If I remember correctly - Jesus was (or gave/created) the new covenant (this is why christian men are required to be circumsised) and gave a new comandment. "Love one another as I have loved you" is, IMHO, fairly straight forward and simple. (and does away with all the mosaic laws?)

It seems to me that God started out simple (don't eat from that tree); was forcedto change;tried specific (mosaic laws) rules; saw his people getting too legalistic; decided to go with a simple no brainer (unconditional love) to get his people to behave.

Please note this is the short version.

bravo9 said...

Another problem with the Bible is that you are reading something that was selectively assembled by men. They conveniently left out the parts (see the Dead Sea Scrolls for evidence) that did not suit their needs in controlling mass populations of people. Christianity, at the time, was nothing more than a cult religion. Constantine I (the Roman Emperor at the time) needed a single religion to bring the people together. He chose Christianity (even though he was a Pagan) because he saw how fanatical its followers were.
The fact that the Dead Sea Scrolls reveal Jesus as a man (and anything but Divine) only begins to scratch the surface of the inconsistencies the Scrolls expose.