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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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…
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.
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
[Wager]Again, hard to argue with but most cultures have rules against this too.
Thou shalt not steal.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
[Wager]Another reasonably good rule.
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?”