« The White House 2009 | Main | What kind of world do you want? »

Taking Ten

Several years ago, I was reading a Robert Heinlein novel (I don't recall which, but I think it was either "Friday" or "The Number Of The Beast") and something he said struck me. A father figure had instructed his daughter to study the Ten Commandments and report back on her thoughts of them. (Her response was that five of them were good rules for any society, while five of them were intended to preserve the patriarchal religious hierarchy.) I'd always considered that a pretty neat idea, and meant to do that myself sometime.

Well, some time is finally here. And it's a bit more complicated than I thought.

For one, just what version of the 10 Commandments should I use? I'd started a few times, but ran into a bit of a problem. While the phrase says there are 10, there are a few more than ten imperative statements. Obviously, some of those Commandments must include more than one specific rule.

Once again, Wikipedia to the rescue. It lists the three most common breakdowns, and I'm going to take the Catholic/Lutheran divisions, and use the text of the New International Version.

1. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. "You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments.

This one is basically the Preamble. It's establishing the authority for the other Commandments. If you're looking at the Commandments from a non-theological perspective, it's pretty much valueless.

2. "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name."

More Preamble. It's more reinforcement that the rest of the Commandments are not to be messed around with.

3. "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Also reinforcing the role of religion, but also not a bad idea to set aside one day to get away from routine, day-to-day stuff. All work and no play, and all that stuff. It can be argued that this was the genesis (pardon the pun) of the notion that eventually gave us the 40-hour work week.

4. "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you."

In another Heinlein novel, "Job: A Comedy Of Justice," Heinlein elaborated on one guy who was praised for honoring his parents. When he protested that he didn't even like them, he was told that was irrelevant -- he honored and respected them, even though he didn't like them, and that's what counted.

Respecting one's parents is part of preserving the established structure and authorities, but it's a bit more. It's part of recognizing the importance of family ties in society, in civilization. It's not just a good idea, it's God's law.

I don't see any reason why it should also be Man's law, but it's a pretty good principle.

5. ""You shall not murder."

Well, duh. It's a sad state when something like this has to be spelled out -- but sometimes you run into jerks who pull the old "well, you didn't say to NOT do this." (Jerks like me.) If you're working up a set of rules, you might as well include a few fundamental ones like this one just to make absolutely certain they're covered.

6. "You shall not commit adultery."

Adultery is the violation of marriage oaths, an assault on the fundamental family unit. It's a bad idea. (And I say that as someone who has, technically, participated in adultery.) One should show respect for the institution of marriage, respect for those who have made that commitment, and respect for the family. Adultery is not just a casual thing, it is an attack on the cuckolded spouse, the family, and the whole institution.

7. "You shall not steal."

Like murder, another fundamental principle that shouldn't have to be spelled out, but better safe than sorry.

8. "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor."

This is a bit more than "don't lie." "Testimony" means to speak after giving one's pledge to speak the truth in a formal setting. It means that if the state, or any other authority, demands that you speak the truth and you agree, then you will give the truth -- or face the consequences. There is no "I had my fingers crossed' exception, no "I only lied about sex" excuse. If justice is to be meted out fairly, then the justice-givers must have the authority to demand truth from those who would speak -- and enforce that demand with force, if necessary. It's a fundamental, essential element of our judicial system.

9-10. "You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."

The "wife" reference is considered #9, while the rest falls under the "house" aspect.

Coveting is a dangerous thing. It means that you see what someone else has, and want that. It can inspire greatness, as it can lead people to achieve their own successes and acquire their own goods. But more often, it ends poorly. It leads people to just take what they want -- or to destroy it, to deny it to their rightful owner.

For example, in "The Silence Of The Lambs," Hannibal Lecter describes the serial killer a "coveter." He wants the very identity of the women he sees, so he takes it from them. The killing is incidental to getting what he wants.

In the case of the wife, it originally was part of the "property" aspect. Nowadays, it's used to reinforce the "no adultery" commandment.

On the property part, it's another good principle. When you find yourself wanting what someone else has, the temptation to just take it is very powerful. One of the key roles of government is to prevent that from happening -- "a man's home is his castle" and all that. Indeed, in the original draft of the Declaration of Independence, the original rights cited were "Life, Liberty, and Property." It's what had (and still has) a lot of people upset over the Kelo decision -- there, a private company coveted the homes of people, and used the government to take it from them.

So, in the end, how do I rate the 10 Commandments?

1 and 2 are purely religious. I'll pass on them, thanks.

3 is a tough call. The idea of having a "holy day" is a bit much, but establishing -- and enforcing -- the idea that there should be a limit on how much work one can command from workers is a good one.

4, 6, 9, and 10 are good ideas. They tend to promote and reinforce civil behavior, and life would be a lot better if people obeyed them more. But they fall under the category of "personal responsibility," and should not be reinforced by the laws of man. Encouraged, absolutely, but in no way enforced.

5, 7, and 8 are essential. These are the sorts of things that man establishes governments to prevent. These are the places where the 10 Commandments not only should be part of the law, but need to be.

So, do I think that the 10 Commandments have a place in courts? Yeah, in context. They are one of the earliest sets of recorded laws. And they still have a great deal of relevancy today.

Comments (53)

The book you initially refe... (Below threshold)
The Listkeeper:

The book you initially refer to was the Master's last - To Sail Beyond The Sunset.

I missed the "patriarchal h... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

I missed the "patriarchal hierarchy" part of the commandments. It seems to me that they apply equally to both sexes. Someone is going to have to explain that one to me.

Your analysis of the commandments isn't bad, except you kind of missed the boat on #8. The commandment relates specifically to false accusations against another person, under oath or otherwise. If only it were heeded. Instead it seems to be the political order of the day.

MEGA-Dittos, Jay. CF C.S.Le... (Below threshold)

MEGA-Dittos, Jay. CF C.S.Lewis's "The Aboliton Of Man" (Macmillan, 1947)

The problem with not keepin... (Below threshold)
U.P. Man:

The problem with not keeping the first two in the list is ... What is the morale authority for the rest?

Through out history there is an example where breaking every one the others has been held in high esteem.

Catholics dumped the 2nd co... (Below threshold)

Catholics dumped the 2nd commandment dealing with graven images, and divided the 10th to make 10. And they changed the Sabbath from Saturday (the last day) to Sunday (the first day).

Changing the Days and the Law is a sign of the antichrist. FYI.

That's why there are dueling versions of 10 Commandments. Anti=another.

Keep in mind that the first... (Below threshold)

Keep in mind that the first few commandments specifically direct us to God and our reverence of Him. The last few direct us towards each other and guide us in our daily interaction with one another.

4, 6, 9, and 10 are good... (Below threshold)

4, 6, 9, and 10 are good ideas. They tend to promote and reinforce civil behavior, and life would be a lot better if people obeyed them more. But they fall under the category of "personal responsibility," and should not be reinforced by the laws of man. Encouraged, absolutely, but in no way enforced.

I would disagree slightly on this. They should not be enforced by the government. They should be enforced by society, using nonviolent means such as shunning.

Well, duh. It's a sad state when something like this has to be spelled out

To you, today, yes -- but then, you live in a culture that has three thousand years of Judeo-Christian tradition behind it. In other cultures, murder, theft, lying for gain aren't necessarily forbidden.

BryanD, good to see the Rev... (Below threshold)

BryanD, good to see the Rev Phelps gave you the day off. Time for school.
There are over 16 disctinct statements in the 10 commandements, and every religion breaks them into 10 a little differently.
The Jews put "I am you Lord and God" as the first. The protestants, Lutherans excepted, actually ignore that one (it is assumed in their theologies). They (protestants) list "no other god before Me" as first, Jews second, the Greek Orthodox as the second half of the first. Not making an idol (in Exodus, it was image, Dueteronomy used the term idol) is the 2nd commandement to the protestants and Orthodox, the 2nd half of the 2nd for the Jews, and the 3rd piece of the 1st for the Catholics and Lutherans.
So no, the Catholics did not "dump the 2nd commandement".
As for meeting on Sunday, Paul preached on Sunday (Act 20:7), as did Jesus when the Apostles were hiding. Sunday is the Sabbath of the New Testament and Covennant.

Now, since you claim changing the Laws is the sign of the Antichrist, I assume you must follow the Jewish interpt?

I tend to agree with George... (Below threshold)

I tend to agree with George Carlin:


SCSIwuzzy,Where is t... (Below threshold)

Where is the "graven images" reference in the Catholic version of the Commandments? It's gone. The Cathechism acknowledges it, citing "tradition". Granted, there are different ways of delineating the order, but the entire body of the law must be contained therein.
PS. Phelps is a fag.
As far as following a Jewish interpretation, the correct term is "Israelitish" interpretation, since Judah is but one branch of the Israelitish tree.
And of course, Christ came to fulfill the Law. Every jot and every tittle. Luckily the sacrifice was himself and the bloodier rites of obescience have been rendered moot. They are still instructive.

Good reminders.I'd l... (Below threshold)

Good reminders.
I'd like to see more information on the subject of using the the LORD'S name in vain. It seems to me that when the terms "use the name" are written a personal name is to be looked for rather than a title like "Lord".

Let me know

JayActually, #2 is... (Below threshold)


Actually, #2 is more than preamble...and it doesn't have anything to do with saying "Goddammit"

When a secular person commits evil, it is surely evil, but it doesn't bring G-d and religion in disrepute. When a person commits evil in G-d's name, however, he destroys the greatest hope for goodness to prevail on earth -- widespread belief in a G-d who demands goodness (ethical monotheism). There is nothing as evil as religious evil.
Dennis Prager

The ten commandments are im... (Below threshold)

The ten commandments are important because they are the first example in our cultural lineage of the concept of law that no human being can rise above. They demonstrate the rule of law over the rule of man. Murder was just as wrong, at least in theory, for the king as it was for the peasant.

Over the course of human history many different cultures have risen and fallen. All it takes is for one culture to gain a very small advantage over competing cultures for it to dominate over generations, particularly when populations are fairly static overall and resources are scarce. If you look carefully at these laws, you will see that they tended to reduce mortality and increase fertility in the communities that adopted them. Reducing sexual partners might protect against disease that can cause infertility or cervical cancer resulting in a more fertile female population. Eliminating killers and other anti-social individuals from the society probably allowed more of the rest to survive and have more children.

Other aspects of these cultures such as not eating pork and other food preparation and selection rules might have acted to reduce disease. So the cultures that adopted these laws and traditions gained a slight advantage over those that didn't. When you have an area that only produces a given amount of food, a group that is slightly more successful ultimately dominates over hundreds of generations. So other cultures with other rules might have existed at various times but have faded into history.

You will also notice that areas that are particularly sparse in resources are also most intolerant of other cultures. That would be perfectly normal considering a group of people in extremely harsh environment that is finding itself with a larger population to feed. They are going to be very aggressive toward local competitors. Even traditions such as killing of females who "dishonor" the family might actually play into the longer term success of the group by keeping the population to a level that can be supported by the land and moderate the natural boom/bust population cycles that tend to happen "in the wild". People who were least likely to abide by the rules were "selected out" of the population.

So while I doubt there is a lot of plan to all of this, I don't doubt that populations adopting these laws and traditions were able to enjoy a synergy with the environment and be more successful than others. And the day off probably provided a day where people weren't too tired for sex, also providing for a more fertile population. Two populations side by side, one with a sabbath and one without would probably find the population with the sabbath having more young after several years than the population that worked every day.

And the notion of an omnipotent God who sees all and will eventually judge after death with no chance to escape it provides the ultimate enforcer of the laws. You don't need a police force who watches people if you can convince them they are always being watched.

Now when a population has a surplus of resources, they will be more tolerant of deviations and experimentation. Divergent populations can still succeed. What you end up with is a period where you have many cultural "mutations" because conditions are good and they are not under a lot of stress. But when conditions again turn harsh, you will find many of these dying off and people having little tolerance for inefficient cultures that take more resources to survive.

BryanD,Thanks for re... (Below threshold)

Thanks for reminding us where you stand on the Jews. Or as you say, the Jooos.

Anyway, since you are NOT Catholic, I will excuse the fact that you don't know there are 2 different versions/expressions of the 10 Commandments. Same applies to most Churches. Anyway, there are the long forms taken from Deut./Exodus and the short form.
When we Catholics learn the Commandments, we learn both the long and the short. You Westboro's, I suspect, only memorize the short form. And only the parts that reinforce your bigotry.

"SCSIwuzzy, I will excuse ... (Below threshold)

"SCSIwuzzy, I will excuse the fact that you don't know there are 2 different versions/expressions of the 10 Commandments"

Q: Where is the transmission of the Ten Commandments described?
A: In the book of Exodus (chapter 20).
Q: What is the 2nd commandment(according to the Torah(jooos!)/Old Testament)?
A: "You shall not make for yourself any carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath...to worship it."

(Now you do REMEMBER that golden calf that brother Aaron AT THAT MOMENT had the children of Israel worshipping? The thing that broke a COMMANDMENT; that pissed Moses (God's prophet) off?) Anyway:

What (pray tell) does your Bible say? (Exodus 20, or wherever Jerome's Vulgate places the event)

#7 is mistranslated in the ... (Below threshold)

#7 is mistranslated in the original post, and I am pleasantly surprised that #5 was not.

#7's proper translation is:
You shall not kidnap .

Sadly, this post is rather ... (Below threshold)

Sadly, this post is rather typical of the direction our society has taken over the last forty years or so: we now see the Ten Commandments as multiple-choice.

While it is certainly possible to examine the secular culture and the effects the code of the TC had as earthly law, dismissing any of the "religious" Commandments as irrelevant misses a great deal - even of the purely secular implications.

There were, in fact, important practical benefits derived from the adherence to those Commandments.

The Israelites were a small nation of twelve tribes with no natural resources or fixed arable property to use to build their society. They had no wealth to bring out of Egypt save knowledge and skill. For them to survive and prosper would require a strong cohesiveness.

To this end, all of the Commandments have the effect of promoting cultural cohesion and outlawing anti-social behaviors. In a people faced with living as nomads and tending flocks to survive, the unitary religion of the 1st and the respect of traditions implicit in 4th gave a sense of permanence to a nation of transients.

Prohibiting adultery no doubt seems outrageous to the anything-goes libertine crowd, but even they must admit it more often than not causes strife - and the smaller the community, the greater the effect.

If forbidding murder seems self-evident, consider the time in which the TC were writ. There were no civil societies with the rule of law. Tribal chieftans and kings held arbitrary authority. Away from the few cities, the only thing which kept one from killing another was the fear the victim's relatives would seek revenge.

In the sense used in the 9th/10th, "covet" means more than mere envy. It is the desire to wrongfully obtain another's property for oneself, without respect for any of the rights of others. The prohibition against graven images prevents the scarce hard assets like gold and silver from being effectively removed from the society's wealth.

All of these things contribute to social unity. In most cases, religious belief makes people and societies better, not worse. It is hysterical to fear the religious right more than the atheist left. The "most dangerous" figures of the former, people like Falwell, Robertson, and Dobson, pale in comparison to the icons of death from the latter: Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot.

bryanD:Technically... (Below threshold)


Technically speaking, the Protestants changed the Catholic version of the 10 commandments to their own version. The Reformation came long after the Roman Catholic church was established, so the Catholics never "dumped" the Protestant version. And yes, the Catholics changed the Jewish version for themselves.

And, technically speaking again, worshiping idols is a no-no under the Catholic or the Protestant First Commandment anyhow.

By the way, I was Methodist early in my childhood; Lutheran in Junior High/High School, and I've been Catholic for the last 10 years, so I consider myself knowledgeable and experienced enough to make that interpretation. Nor does it hurt to have a few World Religions classes under my belt.


BryanD,Vulgate? 'Li... (Below threshold)

Vulgate? 'Listening' to you talk about Catholics is like reading Jack Chick comics. Seriously, this is why I am not joking when I liken you to the Westboro Baptists. KJO all the way, eh?

However, "our" Bible covers the 10 Commandments in 2 places, both in the OT. Exodus 20:2-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21.

For reference, the 1st Commandment, long form, English translation.
"I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no 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 fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments."

There are four, count 'em, ... (Below threshold)

There are four, count 'em, 4, rules.

1. Do not lie.

2. Do not steal.

3. Do not kill.

4. Do not commit sexual folly.

These are derivable from the Ten Commandments and the rules of behaviour of nearly all religions. They are an expansion of the Golden Rule. Numbers 2 and 3 are fairly easy to follow; numbers 1 and 4, not.

Why overcomplicate things?<... (Below threshold)

Why overcomplicate things?

Jesus distilled all ten into two simple statements:
Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind.
Love your neighbor as you love yourself.

That's it.

Remember that the scribes of Jesus's time had codifiied the commandments until they were perfectly useless, much as our own constitution has been wrangled into conforming to society's rules, rather than forming those rules. He brought it all back to focus, stating that it's the principle of the whole thing that really matters.

Consider the commandment against adultery. It's regularly used to enforce monagamy and marital fidelity, yet King Solomon had a total of 1000 wives and mistresses, within a society that stoned adulterers. Pull the commandment down to principle, however, and the idea is clear: be honest and respectful of (and in) all relationships. King David was punished not for sex with Bathsheba, but for the deceit and ultimately the bloodshed used to conceal the illicit affair.

All that to say this: One can "loophole" one's way out of any rule; principles have no loopholes. Doesn't really matter if there were ten, thirteen, seventeen, or seventy-two commandments; there's only the two principles that matter.

And yes, the first principle provides the basis for the second. Without the first, the second is only a "good idea"; not a mandate.

Jay, it's a bit interesting... (Below threshold)

Jay, it's a bit interesting that you'd post this on the 15th. I've been working for awhile on a dissertation (that will probably expand its way into a book) that takes a long hard look at what's wrong with Christian Fundamentalism, from a Christian perspective. The most glaring error is a misunderstanding of sin, an error rooted solidly in a twisted understanding of the Decalogue. Before I saw this post last night, I had written about eighteen pages in that project analyzing the ten commandments and their underlying principles.

Fascinating coincidence or grand conspiracy?

The Golden Rule is not just... (Below threshold)

The Golden Rule is not just a 'good idea', it is a necessity, or more Kantian, an imperative. And your principle number one is subsumed in two if you love your God as you do yourself, or consider your God to be your neighbor.

Yeah, why should the knowle... (Below threshold)

Yeah, why should the knowledge of good and evil be considered sinful? It's a sin to have a moral sense? So does God sin by distinguishing one act from another by applying ethical precepts?

What hogwash.

kim:The two items ... (Below threshold)


The two items Bo refers to are the 2 Great Commandments from Matthew 22:37, 39:

"You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind...You shall love your neighbor as yourself."


I was taught in Catechism that the 10 Commandments are an extension of the 2 Great Commandments, so I believe they're to be used in combination.

Matthew who?========... (Below threshold)

Matthew who?

And the sin got laid on the... (Below threshold)

And the sin got laid on the womenfolks because it was they who pointed out that 'might' didn't always make 'right'; not when there is an ethical sense. Why wouldn't the physically weaker make that argument?

kim, In the Garden o... (Below threshold)

In the Garden of Eden, the incarnate God and angels walked among men.
"Trees" are symbolic of Bodies (still are: the trunk, the limbs: arms, legs).

The Tree of Life was God: your creator and a friend you can talk to, etc.

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was Lucifer, the fallen angel, "full pattern", sexiest man alive.

To sexually seduce Eve, this Tree of (carnal)Knowledge presented its Serpent. You can guess what a snake represents, can't you? (This one glistens, as well!) And Eve did "eat".

By and by, Adam saw what Lucifer and Eve were doing, and that they were enjoying themselves, so he cut in.

In tha course of time, Eve delivered twins. Fraternal twins.
One of Lucifer: Cain, the born killer whom God hated .
And one of Adam: Abel, not infected by bad blood, through whom the Redeemer of the world could come.

Of course, that's why Cain kills him (to stop God's Plan), but younger brother Seth is eventually born, replacing Abel, and exiles Cain and his kiddies to try again on the weak minds of the Earth until God calls "Time!"

So the prohibition of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, is to preserve a supply of Holy Blood. No pure blood supply (untainted by fallen angels), no Jesus Christ the Son of Man. Therefore, no hope of redemption from sin. Because, innocent blood covers innocent blood. Tainted blood is worthless.

And yes, the Cathol... (Below threshold)

And yes, the Catholics changed the Jewish version for themselves.Tom Blogical,"

If you recognize that, more power to you.

"The Reformation came long after the Roman Catholic church was established"

But the protestant (Calvinist who made a clean break from Rome) used the older Textus Receptus preserved in the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek by Syrian speakers of those languages. The Jewish Masara is in total agreement with its authenticity viz Torah.

The Vulgate (Alexandrian text) broke the evidentiary chain by using Latin copies of copies and grafting into it the mores of a sun-worshipping society (Rome), who above Jupiter/Zeus and Mars/Ares, place the Unconquerable Sun. That's why Sunday became "holy", replacing the Sabbath day (the 7th day).
The Hellenic copyists just weren't that commited to accuracy like the fanatical Jews of the diaspora were. The Hellenes were just enlarging a general library.

"And, technically speaking again, worshiping idols is a no-no"

Either it is or it isn't, but carry on.

PS.I was born into the Methodist church, too. Leaving its NCC-infected self is highly understandable.

How more transparent can an... (Below threshold)

How more transparent can an idol be?

I've shown, but I'll repeat... (Below threshold)

I've shown, but I'll repeat, they all derive from the Golden Rule, which is counterintuitive.

All your blood and blather about the G of E is nonsensical, bD. It's the story of the origin of ethics, no more, and so much less.

Bo said:"The most ... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

Bo said:

"The most glaring error is a misunderstanding of sin.."

You've piqued my interest. Could you elaborate?

Yeah, show me the 18 pages.... (Below threshold)

Yeah, show me the 18 pages.


It's probably just natural ... (Below threshold)

It's probably just natural to think of sin when you are being taxed.

"All your blood and blather... (Below threshold)

"All your blood and blather about the G of E is nonsensical, bD. It's the story of the origin of ethics, no more, and so much less."

This I GOTTA hear!
Especially the "so much less(sic)" part.

"And, technically speaki... (Below threshold)

"And, technically speaking again, worshiping idols is a no-no"

Either it is or it isn't, but carry on.

Obviously, I'm saying it isn't.

Matthew who?

Well, I see where you're coming from now. Never mind.

OK, that should read, "Obvi... (Below threshold)

OK, that should read, "Obviously, I'm saying it IS." As in, it is a no-no.

I'll be OK. Really. Maybe a few more hundred cups of tea are in order, but I'll be OK.

Tom Blogical,I was... (Below threshold)

Tom Blogical,

I was staring and staring at your first response thinking Kim the Riddler had infected you.

Now I see! God bless!

LOL!! Yeah, I can understa... (Below threshold)

LOL!! Yeah, I can understand why you'd be staring at that!! Oh, and I'm up to about 50 cups of tea now. Starting to get better. :)

I won't abuse my forum here... (Below threshold)

I won't abuse my forum here just to entertain kim, but I'll gladly summarize my position, Jeff.

I say that a misunderstanding of sin is the root of the problem with the current crop of "Fundamentalists". There are two distinct facets to that statement, the definition of sin and the relevance of sin.

The definition is easy to state, but harder to explain: sin is any act displeasing to God. The deeper definition of that statement begs an exploration into the Decalogue (as the most explicit revelation of God's laws) and the underlying principles of that code. While there's room for error in that initial interpretation, things get really hairy when one starts injecting societal norms into the equation. That's one reason I brought up the adultery "problem." Currently, polygamy is pronounced as a sin by most (if not all) Christian denominations, but it clearly wasn't a problem through much of Biblical history. The same would be the case for things such as language (what's currently "vulgar" may not have been 500 years ago, or vice versa), or attire (bare ankles!).

The second problem arises as a misunderstanding of the function of sin. Sin serves to condemn, to illustrate the depravity inherent in human nature. The believer who attempts to force (not persuade, mind you) others to abstain from sin committs an error in logic, as no amount of force can be exerted upon anyone such that their thoughts are changed, and even if that were possible, their redemption still wouldn't be secured. Neither is the believer to be burdened with his own sin, as he is completely redeemed from the condemnation brought by the law. It was in this spirit that Paul remarked that "All things are permitted, but not all things are profitable" (paraphrased).

Although I have probably only scratched the surface, Jeff, I hope I've given you a little bit to go on to better understand my statement.

Something smells Christian-... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

Something smells Christian-ly ironic in here. To ponder:

1.) Two articles written by a confirmed agnostic on the Second Sunday in the Easter season when today we heard the "Doubting Thomas" Gospel during Mass.

("Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."....Jesus said to him, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.")

2.) The author's dear friend is also a "devout" Christian whom he visited over Easter, the holiest day on the Christian calendar.

Is God telling you something, Jay? Or is it all just a big coninky dink? Hmmmm....

Please don't tell me to pound sand, I'm just pointing out a lil something I noticed and havin' a lil fun with ya...;-)

Bo:Thank you for t... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:


Thank you for that. I agree with you, though I think the terms "fundamentalist" and "fundamentalism" confuse the issue. These have become colloquial expressions which serve as caricatures. I am an evangelical Christian (Southern Baptist) from the South. By almost any measure of the modern use of the term, I and the thousands in my church are fundamentalists. Nevertheless, we do not hold the view that Godly character is a matter of enforcement.

P.S. I should have added "o... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

P.S. I should have added "outside the church" to that last statement. Inside the church is another matter.

Jeff, Matthew wants to know... (Below threshold)

Jeff, Matthew wants to know why you don't think they all come from the second great principle, too. He sees my point, whoever he is or was.

Bo: Why does sin seem to apply to the understanding of the existence of evil, and not so much to the evil itself? What is sinful about the knowledge of good and evil?

My riddles, bD, pale in comparison to those of Jesus.

P.F., I've long considered ... (Below threshold)

P.F., I've long considered agnosticism to be the only supportable philosophical position with regard to the existence of God, and then some scoundrel introduced me to G. K. Chesterton. Now, I don't know what to think.

And Jeff, what is an idol?<... (Below threshold)

And Jeff, what is an idol?

I've seen people take a collection of the purported word of God, and idolize it.

And it's good, Jeff, that y... (Below threshold)

And it's good, Jeff, that you know where I'm coming from, since I don't.

Well obviously; nor where I... (Below threshold)

Well obviously; nor where I've been. Sorry, Jeff, it is Tom B who is so certain of my spiritual path; whom I've apparently offended with frivolity. Sorry, I don't know any better. But the question is serious. The imperative to treat others as ourselves is primary.

Riddle me this, bD: Why has... (Below threshold)

Riddle me this, bD: Why hast thou forsaken me?

Clearly written by someone ... (Below threshold)

Clearly written by someone who never took any advanced course beyond high school. The stupidest rules a 5 year old could have come up with with no relevance to the world we live in in 2007. Honour your folks if they are child molesters. Don't be jealous of the car your neighbour drives, as if we could help it or as if such a stupid rule is more valid than "Thou shalt not enslave others." Oops. Actually the Bible allows that one.

Keir, a life unexamined is ... (Below threshold)

Keir, a life unexamined is not worth living hereafter.

bD, you are in charge of th... (Below threshold)

bD, you are in charge of the 'so much less' part. Let's hear some more.

tpaine, Lewis's 'Abolition'... (Below threshold)

tpaine, Lewis's 'Abolition' successfully vaccinated me against the plague of behaviourism. I can smell 'em a mile off, now.






Follow Wizbang

Follow Wizbang on FacebookFollow Wizbang on TwitterSubscribe to Wizbang feedWizbang Mobile


Send e-mail tips to us:

[email protected]

Fresh Links


Section Editor: Maggie Whitton

Editors: Jay Tea, Lorie Byrd, Kim Priestap, DJ Drummond, Michael Laprarie, Baron Von Ottomatic, Shawn Mallow, Rick, Dan Karipides, Michael Avitablile, Charlie Quidnunc, Steve Schippert

Emeritus: Paul, Mary Katherine Ham, Jim Addison, Alexander K. McClure, Cassy Fiano, Bill Jempty, John Stansbury, Rob Port

In Memorium: HughS

All original content copyright © 2003-2010 by Wizbang®, LLC. All rights reserved. Wizbang® is a registered service mark.

Powered by Movable Type Pro 4.361

Hosting by ServInt

Ratings on this site are powered by the Ajax Ratings Pro plugin for Movable Type.

Search on this site is powered by the FastSearch plugin for Movable Type.

Blogrolls on this site are powered by the MT-Blogroll.

Temporary site design is based on Cutline and Cutline for MT. Graphics by Apothegm Designs.

Author Login

Terms Of Service

DCMA Compliance Notice

Privacy Policy