Because religion should not matter (too much)

The 9 Commandments

Many religions derived from Judaism believe that God handed down some commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai. The commandments passage in Exodus contains 14 or 15 statements, which are normally summarised into 10 commandments by different religions, but they normally disagree on which parts are contained in each commandment. Of course the Muslim faith rejects the accuracy of the bible with good reason. Here I attempt to simplify the Exodus text, so that the commandments can more easily be remembered for those who accept that the text is what God wants us to do. If I were giving instructions to someone, I would give the most important ones first, with more detail. I assume any logical being would do the same.

Let’s take the first few lines:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; Do not have any other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

This is strongly discouraging worship. In fact it seems to go against everything I see in most places of worship. Let’s summarise this as the first commandment.

1. Do not worship.

The next line is “You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.”

Some misinterpret this as not calling out His name. People have been stoned for calling out a name! This misses the point. How many requests are made each weekend for a football team to win a game, or other such idle trivia. This is a sinful waste of the powers of a supreme being. We should not be calling for simple favours. Let’s summarise this as

2. Do not waste God’s time.

The next lines continue, “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. For six days you shall labour and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it.”

The Sabbath day is different for various religions and many religions also make exceptions for emergency services. We know now of course that the formation of the earth took a lot longer than 6 days, but perhaps He meant God days. The important thing is that we should not work more than six sevenths of the available time. Let’s just summarise this as something to remind us not to kill ourselves working and ensure the servers run at no more than 85% capacity.

3. Do not work too hard.

Next comes, “Honour your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”

This suggests that you would live longer if you respect your parents. It could be true; there would certainly be less stress. I’m sure it is not calling for unconditional honour, if a parent abuses their child, I’m sure no God would call for them to be honoured. What about the parent of a parent or aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters? It seems a bit restrictive, so let’s make it more general.

4. Respect people who deserve it.

After this point the text seems more straightforward the next line reads, “Thou shalt not murder.”

This is normally regarded as referring to humans but is sometimes extended to animals. Are we all to be vegetarians? What if we meet intelligent aliens? Does this outlaw the death penalty? What about euthanasia? Can we kill plants because they have no feelings? Rather than try to answer these questions, I will simply rephrase it and let your conscience decide what it means to you.

5. Do not kill.

Next comes, “You shall not commit adultery.”

This is probably ruling out sexual relationships with people married to others. As always there are complications, such as if a marriage is recognised in one jurisdiction but not another, is it adultery in one place, but not in another? If the Church of Apathy bonds two people in marriage and it is not recognised by the laws of any country, is it adultery to have a relationship with one of these people? Should this not also apply to long-term partnerships where marriage is prohibited for some reason? Again, the interpretation is up to you.

6. Do not screw around.

Next is, “You shall not steal.”

Well there are so many laws covering legal ownership, I will not attempt to define it. Again the interpretation is up to you.

7. Do not steal

The next text reads, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.”

Many religions describe this as telling the truth. Anyone who has lived a life worth living can tell you that telling the truth is not always the best or kindest thing to do. Sometimes it is kinder to tell what is generally referred to as a “white lie”. I believe people should be practised in the art of deception. Bearing false witness seems to suggest that you should not lie about someone in order to cause harm. I would also assume that the term neighbour refers to anyone, not just the guy next door. So we should not lie with malicious intent.

8. Do not lie with malice

The rest of the text reads, “You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.”

Now most of my neighbours do not have male or female slaves (as far as I can tell), oxen or donkeys. Except for the anything else clause I was doing well. I must confess that I admire some people’s possessions such as cars, boats, aircraft and houses. The word covet is very strong and usually means to desire something inordinately. I would therefore take this to mean that we should not be obsessed by someone else’s possessions. So the final commandment is.

9. Do not desire things obsessively

That leaves us one short for 10 commandments, but do not worry about that. It should make it easier to remember.

Be good and have fun!

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