The Ten Commandments – thirty five percent useful
Kneeling Man: Oi, God! I was talking to some people the other day about the Ten Commandments. A few questions came up.
God: Uh huh.
KM: Firstly the Bible says that you carved them in stone, on two tablets. Is that true?
God: Sort of. I didn’t personally carve them, but I caused them to be carved.
KM: So Moses carved them?
God: People like Moses.
KM: And they’re your exact words?
God: A little bit always gets lost in translation.
KM: But they’re basically your ten commandments.
God: Yes, Neel. What were the questions?
KM: My friend said that he thought making the first four all about needing to praise you was a bit, how can I put this without sounding too critical… narcissistic?
God: I admit it may seem a little bit that way.
KM: But you are God, the only god, so what’s the point of saying we must not pray to any other gods?
God: Back in the day, people were praying to all manner of gods. Zeus, Thor, Neptune. The Aztecs were dragging young virgins up pyramids and cutting their hearts out. So it was pretty important to get across the one single god idea so that all that nonsense would stop.
KM: Right. Fair enough. I hadn’t really looked at it that way. Let’s move on to number five.
God: Honour thy father and thy mother.
KM: Exactly. Seems a bit redundant to me.
God: Why’s that, Neel?
KM: Well everybody I know with decent parents loves them and honours them anyway. They don’t need to be commanded to do it. But if your parents had sold you into child slavery for example, having to honour them as a pre-condition for getting into Heaven seems a bit tough. They wouldn’t really deserve to be honoured would they?
God: Once again, times have changed. Sometimes fathers had to sell daughters just to make ends meet.
KM: Okay. Well let’s leave that for now and move on to tablet two.
God: Commandment number six. Thou shalt not kill.
KM: That’s a good one. Nobody had any problem with that. One hundred percent approval.
God: You’re saying I’m one for six in your friends’ eyes right now?
KM: Pretty much. Let’s go to number seven.
God: Thou shalt not commit adultery.
KM: As a general concept it’s fine, but to be written in stone sort of implies no exceptions, don’t you think?
God: It does have that about it.
KM: What about a young woman, newly married, husband goes off to war, doesn’t return. Probably dead, but nobody knows for sure. Does she have to stay celibate for the rest of her life?
God: That’s a curly one.
KM: But the same commandment means that a fifty year old man, who bought a nine year old girl from the father we talked about earlier, commits no crime when he sleeps with her. Even though he’s effectively bought a sex slave.
God: It’s hard to write things that perfectly fit all examples for all time on two tablets of stone, Neel. Twitter gives you more space than that and you know what happens there.
KM: Fair point. Thou shalt not steal. Another winner.
God: Two for eight?
KM: Two and a half for eight. Half a point for adultery.
God: Gee thanks.
KM: Thou shalt not bear false witness. That’s fine. Three and a half for nine.
God: Commandment number ten. Thou shalt not covet. How did that go?
KM: Not well. It’s pretty hard not to look at a neighbour’s new Corvette and not admire it. We figured that coveting was merely human nature. So long as you have no plan to act on it, then it’s not really a carved-in-stone level of sin.
God: Half a point?
KM: Nah, sorry. Final score, three and a half out of ten.
God: Well, Neel, as I said before, times change. If I was going to write ten commandments today, they wouldn’t be quite the same.
KM: Why don’t you? Isn’t it about time? I mean you could use those other six and a half commandments for things that didn’t make the cut last time. Like rape, child abuse, slavery, physical assault, starting wars…
God: Thou shalt not discriminate for reason of race, tribe, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief, or lack of…
KM: Exactly! Freedom of speech… not trying to impose your beliefs on others…
God: I hear you Neel, and I am working on it. But I don’t want to carve anything in stone until I’m sure it’s right. Be a shame to rush into it, look what happened last time. And knowing how critical you and your friends can be…
KM: Sorry about that God, just trying not to bear false witness.
God: Good work, Neel. Sleep well.
KM: Night. God.
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