Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Ten Commandments - An Update

In discussing the Ten Commandments during Sunday School this week, I realized that since the Bronze Age, The Ten Commandments have long been looked at as an ethics guide, even though many of the commandments really don’t involve ethics at all. Additionally, the recipients of this set of rules only placed emphasis on how they treated other tribe members, and not their neighbors. They wholly accepted owning slaves, treating women as property, genocide with neighboring tribes, etc. We live in a far more global community now than they could have ever imagined, and I would suggest that it’s time for an update to the Ten.

In examining the existing Law, the first two commandments just instruct the followers of Moses about the need to worship a particular God, and to make no graven images. Most Christians have ignored the second commandment completely and see no issue with creating religious art and images. The third, taking the name of the Lord in vain, is vague and interpreted in many different ways today. Like the first two laws, this doesn't really cover an ethics issue either.

Keeping a day of rest is a great idea. Heaven knows that with our busy lives, having a day of rest is greatly needed. Unfortunately for many LDS, Sunday is anything but a day of rest. Many times I feel that Sunday is just a full-day of Church work, instead of office work. Hopefully I’m not black-listed by The Brethren for this comment, but how about a three-hour limit on any Sunday meetings, including pre- and post-block? For most, I think this would go over as well as winning the lottery.

Honoring thy Father and Mother is another great idea. Its implementation back in the day included the prescription to stone or kill unruly kids – not the pinnacle of our current idea of ethical behavior.

Do not kill. It seems simple enough, although it’s hard to imagine a community that actually encouraged killing amongst themselves. And, immediately after issuing the Ten, the Israelites are commanded to annihilate their neighbors. To kill every man, women, and child. Except the virgins (girls only, of course), whom could be kept alive just to help out with housework, I assume.

No adultery. No stealing. I’m again not aware of any historical customs that would have encouraged or rewarded these behaviors.

No false witness – great example of an actual ethics issue that is as relevant today as 4000 years ago.

No coveting they neighbor, nor their asses. Fortunately, we don’t have the Pitt/Jolie family in our Ward boundaries.

Here are my suggestions for an updated set of ethics rules:

1) Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. (Unless you a sadomasochist, in which case, just don’t do unto others.)

2) Do not judge, or pass laws, based on ethnicity, religion, color of skin, or sexual orientation, for God made them as-is to add diversity to this otherwise-boring world

3) Those who do violence against children shall be despised above all other criminals and removed from society forthwith

4) Treat women and men equally - not separate-but-equal – especially in religious practice and authority.

5) All other questions, refer to number 1 (above)

I know I’d take heat from some, especially including the wild notion that men and women should be equal in all religious authority. But, I seriously believe this would make for a much better religious experience and world in general. Not to mention that handing over half of these weekly meetings to women to manage, would truly be an answer to prayers!

So, what are your suggestions? What did I miss?


  1. How about this one.

    Thou shalt have no other gods before me. i.e. Joseph Smith.

    Oops, Freudian slip.

  2. Reading your new list makes me feel a lot better because I have been keeping the Sabbath day holy by skipping church meetings on Sunday entirely. I’ve never felt more rested and I actually look forward to Sunday now!

    I have been working on not coveting thy neighbor though, because ever since I saw Brother Parker next door out in his garmies the other night quieting down his barking dogs I have had a hard time not coveting his ass, so to speak. Let me tell you, he works out!

    I think your suggestions are better than the original ten, because now I may be able to pass a temple recommend interview. Third times the charm!

  3. Reminds me a lot of George Carlin's revised version of the 10 commandments. It's a little... typical George Carlin... But he shrinks the list quite nicely!


  5. I like the ZAP (Zero Aggression Principle):

    Do not initiate force or fraud.

  6. Sheesh, if you were in charge I'd actually consider rejoining the Mormon church! scrap that, I'll just enjoy the education from my computer chair. Great blog Mike T!

  7. The Girl - Stay tuned for the upcoming post, "Recovery from Coveting Thy Neighbor's Ass"

    Koda - I saw this a long time ago. Time for a refresher.

    dbd - Just not sure it's in us...

    Maureen - Thanks! See you online, if not in the pew.

  8. dude
    thanks for giving me some hope in the blogosphere... i've been hitting 'next blog' for about five minutes, scanning blog after blog for signs of life. it seems i'm in a 'churchblogloop' or something, all with pastel templates and cursive lettering in the title and pictures of crosses or candles.

    whatever the case, it was nice to come upon yours and be pushed a bit beyond these conventions.


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  10. "Do what you will; harm none" works pretty well too.

  11. So....are you a real Bishop? If so, you rock.

  12. What a refreshing post. I am not religious but I believe in living by all your commandments. Thank you!

  13. Thou shalt not kill originally read Thou shalt not murder. That justifies self defense and probably some wars although I'm not sure about the genocide that you talked about. I think the purpose was to keep the Israelite separate from neighbor tribes so that their religion wasn't lost.