Adam’s Blog

That’s my thing, keepin’ the faith, baby. –Joe Friday

The Ten Misquoted Commandments

Posted by Adam Graham on June 30, 2007

Doug Van Curen, Vice-President of the Idaho Humanist Society greatly twists the Ten Commandments in a recent letter to the Editor:

Adrian Arp’s Letter (June 7) suggests our society is being systematically destroyed by compromising moral absolutes like the Ten Commandments. This makes me wonder if he has actually read the book of Exodus. The first commandment requires that you worship only the Judeo-Christian God. Punishment for not? Death by stoning. How does this fit in with freedom of religion?

And the commandment says:

“Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.”

Nothing about stoning. Now, who hasn’t read Exodus?  Van Curren continues:

The second prohibits the making of idols and decries punishment for four generations of an entire family for the misdeeds of one person.

And the commandment says:

“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything 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 showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me and keep My commandments.”

Here God is the one who is making the punishment, not the government, and it should be mentioned that the curse and punishment is broken should one turn to God as explained in Ezekiel 18:14-19:

“Now, lo, if he beget a son who seeth all his father’s sins which he hath done, and considereth and doeth not the like, who hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, hath not defiled his neighbor’s wife, neither hath oppressed any, hath not withheld the pledge, neither hath despoiled by violence, but hath given his bread to the hungry and hath covered the naked with a garment; who hath taken off his hand from the poor, who hath not received usury nor increase, hath executed My judgments, hath walked in My statutes — he shall not die for the iniquity of his father: he shall surely live.

As for his father, because he cruelly oppressed, despoiled his brother by violence, and did that which is not good among his people, lo, even he shall die in his iniquity.

“Yet say ye, `Why? Doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father?’ When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all My statutes and hath done them, he shall surely live.”

So, moving on to Commandment #3:

The third, death to those who use their deity’s name wrong.

The real commandment says:

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.

No mention of stoning. Then we move on to #4:

The fourth mandates that everyone who works on the Sabbath be stoned to death.

Again, the real 4th Commandment says:

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God. In it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates.

For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

Again, no stoning. Moving on to the 5th Commandment:

The fifth requires that children who misbehave be stoned to death.

The 5th Commandment says:

Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

No stoning. Moving onto the 7th Commandment:

The seventh requires that adulterers be stoned to death.

The real 7th Commandment says:

Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Of the 10th Commandment, Van Curen writes, “The tenth prohibits coveting (in America?).” That one he actually got right. The others totally incorrect.

While it’s true that many of the punishments are indicated elsewhere, it’s not those pre-New Testament punishments that really interest anyone, but rather the principles of the Ten Commandments in our hearts and lives. If we can honor God, rest, honor our parents, our marriage vows, and be people of honesty and integrity who are at peace with what God has given us without coveting someone else’s goods, then we’ve done well.


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