When Son #3 interrupted scripture reading last night to ask what "bearing false witness" meant, it got me to thinking–have we never talked about the ten commandments before? I think we probably have, but obviously some review is in order–
Which got me to thinking–really, aren't most of them common sense? It isn't much of a stretch for anyone to agree that lying to get someone else in trouble is bad. Even the toddlers get that–
Which got me to thinking–what is it about the ten commandments that has so many people up in arms when they see them posted in a public place?
For the most part, the Decalogue deals with universally accepted standards for human behavior–the same laws crop up in every culture, in every period of history–so either the laws reflect inherent truths, OR, they were given by some supreme, all knowing being who communicated them independently to cultures on every isle and throughout time.
Throughout history and in every culture I'm familiar with, murder, adultery, theft, and lying have been outlawed or punished to some degree. Family unity, intergenerational loyalty and altruism are encouraged–universally acknowledged as beneficial for society.
Profanity exists in every culture–it isn't so much the words as the feeling behind the words, and in every culture, profanity is not something one uses in polite company, right?
That leaves, what? Keep the Sabbath Day Holy–what culture doesn't have some sort of labor law, prohibiting you from working your children or your employees seven days a week without a break? Okay, maybe China, but let's not go there.
Then there's "Love the lord thy God with all thy heart, might, mind and strength", which, okay, that's religious and there's the whole separation of church and state thing–but it doesn't say "Love Jehovah" does it? (Okay, I know, the original Hebrew essentially did, but not the version being protested in America.) So you honor your God, and I'll honor mine and if your God is your Lamborghini, then still, I don't see why you're protesting that statement.
Which leads us to one last commandment–or two, depending on if you look at Exodus 20 through Catholic or Protestant eyes. I assume this thing is the catalyst for contention. "I am the Lord your God, and you shall have no other Gods before me." First person–yeah, that can get sticky. Because when words like I and me start cropping up, presumably they refer to an identifiable individual.
Is it an authority problem? We don't like being told what to do? Or maybe our pride gets tweaked–Yes, yes, fine, let's not allow random killing, copulation, or slander, but hey, don't steal our thunder! These are our original concepts; we thought these laws up all on our own! No really, the American legal system bears no resemblance to and has no basis on Judeo-Christian codes at all. Honest.
I hardly think the people who want to post the Decalogue in public buildings are purporting to decree some kind of new marriage between church and state–good grief, we don't even take seriously the whole adultery thing in America anymore, and that law is on our books. You really feel like your agnosticism or your Sunday fishing trips are going to be threatened by the posting of the ten commandments?
Whatever the origins–Bible, Qur'an, Torah, or some other culturally-specific source, there are gems of wisdom that resonate for all humanity because doggone it–they're true! You don't have to agree with the idealogy or even the entire statement from beginning to end to respect the elements of truth that are there. Come on America! An idea does not have to offend us simply because it did not originate within ourselves. We can acknowledge it, and its purported source, without diminishing our own dignity or freedom.