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The Ten Commandments vs Modernity

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I recently had a Christian, trying to defend the Creation Museum in Kentucky, trying to convince me that actually there is no such thing as Atheists because every human being actually believes in God, and trying to argue that modern laws, legal systems, and civil institutions are actually striving to be the equal of the "perfect Ten Commandments".

Having some knowledge of the Ten Commandments, I had to contradict him and argue that in my opinion not only are the Ten Commandments incomplete as a legal system, I believe the teachings of the entire Bible do not even come close to constituting a complete and functional modern system of laws, and I believe failing to explicitly forbid rape, slavery, and pedophilia for example (in fact endorsing these things when committed against rival tribes, and also encouraging genocide against rival tribes).

Most importantly of all, in my opinion several of the Ten Commandments stand in direct contradiction to modern laws, rights, and freedoms, at least in the United States.

Focusing on the Ten Commandments:

Commandment #1: Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

This first commandment simply does not gel with freedom of religion. In a modern society, we do not have any laws trying to force anyone to adhere to any specific deity. We do not have any law that says "Hindus may continue to call themselves Hindus, but the only deity they may worship is the Abrahamic deity Yahweh." And we are better for it. Religious freedom, including the right to have no religion or any belief in any deity, is vital to personal freedom and prevents religious persecution. An issue I have is that the Bible calls for capital punishment for the "crime" of having deities other than the Hebrew one.

Commandment #2: Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.

Well, Things Engraved is in trouble if this is to be enforced! I kid, I'm not actually being obtuse, claiming that this commandment is forbidding sculptures or carvings. It's forbidding idol worship. Again, this stands in direct contradiction of religious freedom. We have absolutely no law saying you can't make representations of your deities/icons of worship. If I wanted to I could make myself a golden calf and bow down to it til the real cows came home. I personally wouldn't believe it actually represented anything, but even if I did, the government couldn't keep me from doing it. They certainly wouldn't put me to death, as the Bible requests of those in authority.

Commandment #3: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.

First, if this were a law it would assume in its language that Yahweh is everyone's god. Which would be a violation of freedom of religion. This isn't so in the U.S. Second, this flies in the face of freedom of speech, another absolutely vital freedom to a modern democratic society. There is no law forbidding me from saying for example a curse word if I want. Why is the commandment against murder not commandment Number 1? Again, the punishment for this is supposed to be death, according to the Bible.

Commandment #4: Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

I don't even know what modern laws this would contradict. Freedom of religion AGAIN. But also just practicality, we can't shut absolutely everything down one day a week. We have weekends, which have roots on the Sabbath, but there is no law saying you can't work weekends, or Sundays, or Saturdays. And if there was, I doubt the punishment for disobeying it would be capital punishment, as it is in the Bible.

Commandment #5: Honour thy father and thy mother.

Look, I don't disagree with this one. But no modern soceity would make this a law. It's a generalized social guideline, but certainly not a law. I mean what if your parents are abusive? What if they want to force you into an arranged marriage? What if they're criminals, and they want you to join the family business? What if one of them is a serial killer, should you not report it to the police? I am glad that in our modern society I retain the right to tell my parents to mind their own business on occasion or when necessary. I certainly would be distressed to live in a society where this was illegal, especially if the punishment was death, as it is in the Bible.

Commandment #6. Thou shalt not kill.

Needless to say, I have no problem with this one. It's a good one. Unfortunately, in my opinion much of the rest of the Bible doesn't really seem to think so. There are so many examples of God killing people with impunity and relish, often what seems to me for ridiculous or petty reasons, and so many examples of God proscribing murder, genocide, and wholly unwarranted capital punishment, it boggles my mind. Also, I'm pretty sure that human beings knew that murder was wrong and counter to a well-run society without God giving us this little tip. All that being said, this is the first commandment that is actually a law nowadays. Although I oppose the death penalty for murder, this is the only one where I somewhat understand why death would be the punishment. I'm not crying for Ted Bundy.

Commandment #7: Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Look, this a good social rule. But it isn't a law in modern societies. Seriously ask yourself, if you cheated on your spouse, maybe you deserve severe social criticism, but should you do jail time? Or, as the Bible encourages, should you be put to death?

Commandment #8: Thou shalt not steal.

This is the second one that is actually a modern law. And I can't really argue with it. Prohibition of theft is important for a stable society and economy. The one thing I will say is I don't think humans ever thought theft was OK. This is the first commandment for which the punishment is usually not death. Instead, it's slavery.

Commandment #9: Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

Another one that is a modern law. Perjury is bad. Again, the one thing I will say is, I believe we as humanity figured that out without God. At least this is one of the ones the Bible doesn't call for capital punishment.

Commandment #10: Thou shall not covet thy neighbors's house, wife, servants, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbors.

First off, this would constitute thought crime. It would be incredibly, laughably unenforceable. Also, what is wrong with being jealous of what your neighbor has, and wanting to have similar possessions? That's like one of the cores of capitalism. Now if you're thinking of stealing his stuff, that is bad, but until you actually steal it, there's no law that is going to be enforced to say "You THOUGHT about stealing your neighbour's Snuggie, that's 5 years!" Also, perhaps most importantly and tellingly, a man's wife is considered property, and so are his servants (ie. slaves).

Now, how are these Biblical principles applicable to a modern civil society?

Edited by GoldenEagle
{{ Changes in red to tone down the OP and sections have been deleted to conform to the ToS.
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I don't believe that I ever hear of that word "modernity", to my surprise it is an actual word, my ignorance.

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You've never heard the word "modernity"?!? Ummmm...fair enough, but that doesn't get us off to a very good start on the apologetics front.

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I recently had a Christian, trying to defend the Creation Museum in Kentucky, trying to convince me that actually there is no such thing as Atheists because every human being actually believes in God, and trying to argue that modern laws, legal systems, and civil institutions are actually striving to be the equal of the "perfect Ten Commandments".

<snip>

Uh huh....

Are you asking about the Bible as a whole?

Just the Old Testament?

The 10 commandments which were given as a covenant sign to Israel?

The entire body of the law? (613...365 "thou shalt nots" and 248 "thou must do's")

We probably need to narrow this down a bit. :mgcheerful:

Edited by GoldenEagle
{{ To edit and reflect revised quote }}
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Fair enough...

The short answer would be "no"...

But then again the 10 commandments (which carry no civil penalty for disobedience and are therefore not "laws" in that sense) were (as mentioned) given as a covenant sign to Israel. In fact, the tablets of the testament were carried in the "Ark of the Covenant".

This was God's sign that Israel was now a people under a different set of laws and in a different relationship with God than the gentile nations; and as such were never binding upon the gentile nations anyway.

Yet...for all that...there is value and applicability to modern society. To wit: The prohibitions against theft and murder (for that is the actual translation of the Hebrew word Ratsach in the 6th commandment) are certainly applicable to a modern society, and moreover when one considers the precepts contained in the Ten Commandments...well if we all lived accordingly (I know..never happen)...what kind world would we have?

No adultery...shattered families/broken marriages; No covetousness...no burning all consuming desire (once again, the synoymous meaning of "covet") for something that someone else has and therefore no desire to take it from them; Honoring our parents...no elderly left to the tender care of whatever government....and so it goes.

The salient points being that these were not laws in the normal sense, and were moral guidelines/precepts reflecting the nature of God being revealed to His people, and a covenant sign to them.

Edited by Mcgyver
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The purpose of the outer court is so those who have a desire to understand more about Christianity can come and interact with Christians and learn. Are you seeking to understand how you might have a relationship with Jesus Christ, agooyers?

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I don't believe that I ever hear of that word "modernity", to my surprise it is an actual word, my ignorance.

You've never heard the word "modernity"?!? Ummmm...fair enough, but that doesn't get us off to a very good start on the apologetics front.

By all means, proceed.
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OK, if the Ten Commandments were not laws in a normal sense, and several of them are not even applicable to a modern society, but were in fact moral/religious guidelines for a single human tribe in ancient times, symbolizing to them a deal they believed they had struck with their deity, why should they appear on U.S. government buildings?

Also, let's be honest, there were "penalties" for disobeying the ten commandments. Leviticus 24:16 calls for "he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord" to be put to death. The Israelites destroyed nations/cities numerous times that wouldn't accept their God, ie. obey the first and second commandments. Exodus 31:14 and 31:15, call for those who "defileth" the Sabbath or "doeth any work" on that day to be put to death. Leviticus 20:10, calls for adulterers to be put to death.

So it would seem Christians have in fact picked and chosen which Biblical mandates they want to obey. It's all from God, but sometimes God was... misquoted? Moreover, I believe even some of the Biblical mandates Christians hold to themselves, they recognize are not appropriate in having a well-run and relatively harmonious modern civil society. Especially the claims that the Bible is inerrant and the writings were writings were revealed to the human authors by a perfect, benevolent being. How can one reconcile this?

Edited by GoldenEagle
{{ Changes in red to tone down the post and sections have been deleted to conform to the ToS. }}
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Modern society is by no means "civil." It is barbaric. And as asked above, are you seeking to have a relationship with Jesus Christ or are you here to cause discontent. If it is the latter, perhaps you should read the ToS.

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