I am about to step into no man’s land. The intent of this post is not to offend, but to question; to start thought; to point out the power and weakness that is words. I am going to look at a pretty well-known bit o’ words. One thing to note before I start. I am including three different versions of the same thoughts. Each of these are translations of translations. So they are already AT LEAST three times removed from the original words. Translated between three very different languages; at very different levels of social awareness and technological advancement.
Shall we begin? (Warning … it’s gonna be a long one 😉 )
King James Version, New International Version, New Living Translation
1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. You shall have no other gods before me. Do not worship any other gods besides me.
Note that in none of these translations does it say that there ARE no other gods. Only that should you choose this one then don’t worship the other ones. Questions: Is money considered a god? Because it sure seems to set more policy than God does … even in religious circles. And who exactly is Jesus Christ again?
2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. 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. Do not make idols of any kind,whether in the shape of birds or animals or fish. You must never worship or bow down to them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not share your affection with any other god! I do not leave unpunished the sins of those who hate me, but I punish the children for the sins of their parents to the third and fourth generations. But I lavish my love on those who love me and obey my commands, even for a thousand generations.
The Crucifix. Any statue of a saint. Need I say more?
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God,for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.Do not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.
Pretty straight forward. The only issue is what IS God’s name? And who determines what is in vain? No doubt to some what I am doing here is just that.
4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
Again pretty straight forward. Except for the whole which calendar did they use thang? What day is the right day? My weekend used to be Wednesday and Thursday. So should my sabbath have been on Wednesday?
5. Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. Honor your father and mother.Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God will give you.
Nothing much to say here. Simple, sage advice, that too many of us completely ignore.
6. Thou shalt not kill. You shall not murder. Do not murder.
I don’t see anything that says it’s ok to kill in the name of nationalism. It doesn’t say don’t kill unless they are considered an enemy. Or unless they have killed someone first. Or any other of numerous justifications for killing that we use to push forward political and personal agendas. A simple statement. Don’t kill. Don’t murder. Or is killing in war not officially murder?
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery. You shall not commit adultery. Do not commit adultery.
Again a simple suggestion to honor our word and our commitments. Isn’t it funny that often those who preach this the loudest are the ones who are guilty of ignoring it?
8. Thou shalt not steal. You shall not steal. Do not steal.
Straightforward again. So is taking away the lands and livelihood of whole nations of people for the sake of “progress” stealing? Is stripping the elderly of everything they earned through their lives for no good reason other than sheer greed stealing? Is taking food from the mouths of the already starving to maintain your own power base stealing? Just a few possible examples …
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. Do not testify falsely against your neighbor.
Or to translate the translations of translations … don’t lie. Especially about other people. What can I say here? News. Gossip. Politics. Sparing another’s feelings?
10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s. 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. Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else your neighbor owns.”
So is someone who lives in another land defined by an arbitrary line on a piece of paper NOT our neighbor? Is fighting over land, or resources because “we” want to control it and not “them” not coveting? Or is this only supposed to mean on a personal level?
I am not poking fun here. Nor am I trying to tell others what they should believe. I am simply pointing out that to base the governance of people on words written over two thousand years ago, words who’s very existence is only proven by faith, is the height of hypocrisy. Especially since the words themselves have so many possible interpretations. The very collection of works that supposedly revolve around these words actually frequently contradict them. Yet for thousands of years people have used these words to forward their own agendas; to justify horrific acts by a simple twist of interpretation.
Nowhere in these supposedly all-powerful words does it say that woman are less than men. Nowhere does it say the color of one’s skin matters. Nowhere does it say that same-sex marriage is of any note whatsoever.
The Bible was written by men. Even if you believe that these men were directly inspired by God they are still just men. Guided by their own views of the world; just as capable of misinterpretation and error as the next man. And since translated multiple times by other men, equally biased and fallible. At what point does one recognize that using these words as the ultimate guide for all action is not a healthy way to live? They are words that often hold great wisdom, and should definitely be used as a guide to right life by inspiring introspection and setting a moral code for ourselves. But they are NOT the whole truth. They are ultimately just words.
One other thought. Some who are the loudest in shouting that these words define how we should live are also doing it in the name of “Democracy”. Democracy means rule of the people. How can we call anything that is defined by the words supposedly out of one being as “of the people”? If we use the Bible as our ultimate guide, we are not in any way a Democracy. We are then a Theocracy. Isn’t it ironic that the current greatest “enemies” of our “Democracy” are also part of a great Theocracy. And they are also using the same being to justify THEIR actions. You can’t have it both ways.
Believe what you want. I am not trying to convince anyone that there is no God, or that the Bible is not filled with wisdom. But stop using it, and God, as an excuse! Intolerance, hatred, selfishness … these are yours and yours alone. If they are the will of God, than I for one have second thoughts about the value of such a God!