What a field day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly saying, "hooray for our side"

Sunday, June 23, 2013

God's Own Law

Okay, well, I guess I'm tired of hearing the canard about how "our laws" (ie. the laws of the United states) are "Biblically based" and all "flow from God's law outlined in the Bible." Not to mention the often repeated, "we're a Christian nation and a nation of Christians." It's a bunch of bullshit and actually violates two of the commandments. But, let's look at it. While there are hundreds and hundreds of laws outlined in the Bible (mainly Old Testament stuff, and even more from the Torah and Halakha), let's just look at the biggies, the Ten Commandments and the Seven Deadlies.

And because I really like the poetry of the KJV (which was written in an antique language style even for its time), well use that text for the Big Ten:

And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

1.Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Okay, the first one out of the gate and here we have an establishment of religion. God's saying, "Ignore all those others, pay attention to me and me alone" (although I've had discussions on what this commandment is actually saying given modern Christianity's stance that all other religions are false here God seems to be saying that there are other gods). And that's in direct violation of the 1st Amendment to the Constitution (so much for the religiosity of our Founding Fathers if they can't even get this one right). So we have our first score and it's 0-1.

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.
There's a whole history regarding just exactly what God may or may not have been talking about here, but I think most of us can safely say that even with the recent "ZOMG, Terrorists!" rules regarding taking photos in public places, we pretty much ignore this one outright. While we don't (as a rule) make statues of gods for our public spaces, we've pretty much have made graven images of thee and me as it were as a matter of course. And if you want to say God was just talking about making graven images of him, and deny the whole "we are made in his image" trap, I say, okay, what about crucifixes, the statuary of Christ being taken off the cross, and the ubiquitous Warner Sallman's Christ painting that seemed to be hanging in everyone's homes when I was a kid. So, our score so far? 0-2. It's not looking good.

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.
If this was a crime, the jails would be even more full then they are now. Also, here I will point out that this Commandment deals with more than "cussing." Many an evangelical minister is guilty under this by saying they do what they do in the name of God, only to directly contravene his laws and precepts, not to mention the various infidelities and other crimes. Also, when Crazy Uncle Pat says that God/Jesus told him whatever was going to be true (like putting Mitt Romney in the White House and giving the Senate to the GOP) and then it turns out not to happen that way, yeah, guilty of taking the Lord's name in vain. 0-3.

4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, 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: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
At one time in the US there were local laws that forbade any business happening on Sundays (and here we could have a debate on which day the Sabbath actually is). They were a part of the Blue Laws and most have been repealed. Heck, we can't even shame businesses to not be open on Memorial Day, Labor Day, 4th of July and Christmas, how would we close down the malls on every Sunday. So, 0-4.

5. Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
Should I quote the long litany of cultural garment rending that accompanies every new generation about how they don't respect their elders and are a bunch of slackers? IIRC it's even possible for a child to sue for divorce from their parents. So, 0-5. It's not looking so good for God's law, is it.

6. Thou shalt not kill.
Oh sure, you think you've got me here, don'tcha? We could go into the various degrees of killing (felonious to justified) and if the definition of killing in war actually falls under this Commandment or even talk about how not killing people has been a standing rule since we decided to band together to bring down the antelopes that were taunting us. Seriously, it's been a part of any organizations laws since forever and dates back to the Hammurabi Code (which, IIRC, is one of the earliest code of laws written). But I'm feeling generous and will give you this. 1-5.

7. Thou shalt not commit adultery. (Puslifer)
Sorry, couldn't resist that joke. And, okay, here we do have codified laws regarding this. Adultery is grounds for divorce or palimony. But that shows the problem here, our law doesn't specifically outlaw it, but recognizes it's caustic effect on relationships. I could also discuss about how we no longer stone adulterers or require them to wear scarlet letters. But I'll call it a draw on this one. Yes, adultery is in the law code, but not really the way this commandment calls for. So, 1-5-1.

8. Thou shalt not steal.
Same thing as with killing, it's been in everyone's law books. I have some thoughts about what is now considered stealing (such as certain right wingers who like to call taxes "government stealing", and how tithes are essentially Church taxes and how they relate), but I'll give you this one. 2-5-1.

9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
Perjury, libel and slander. Seems simple enough, and since I'm going with the killing and stealing I can not give this one. 3-5-1.

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.
We could talk about the nature of coveting, but if I'm willing to go with killing, stealing and false witnessing, here I'm going to take it back because "Keeping up with the Joneses" is a national hobby (and for any definition of coveting, "I want what they have" is pretty much a standard definition).

So, final score for the Big Ten? 3-6-1. Even grading on a curve, that isn't good.

So what about the Seven Deadlies? You know, the sins that'll take your soul on a straight path to the Lake of Fire. So if our law follows God's law, there should be some strong laws about these.

1. Lust
You've got to be kidding me, right? Okay, well, there are laws against some forms of lust. But here we are mostly talking about intense desire that is differentiated from Greed and Envy (numbers 3 and 6). If lust were made a crime, most teenagers wouldn't make it to adulthood without going afoul of the law. 0-1.

2. Gluttony
There's various definitions for gluttony that go beyond the simple consumption of food beyond one's need. But there ain't no laws against rampant consumerism either. Add in America's obesity epidemic and we get to 0-2.

3. Greed
"Greed is good" pretty much has defined the later half of the 20th century and much of what was wrong with the first decade of the 21st. Nobody has gone to jail (except for violating other laws like perjury and making false statements to investors). You could say the laws against insider trading might qualify, but I think that's pretty shaky ground (as the law isn't so much against greed as it is against getting an unfair advantage regarding your greed). So, 0-3.

4. Sloth
"From each according to his ability, to each according to his need…" So you would say that we would incorporate the socialist creed into our laws? 0-4.
5. Wrath
Okay, well, we do have laws regarding the effects of wrath, however not being in one's right mind, ie. filled with wrath, is sometimes used as a defense. So we'll call it a draw. 0-4-1.
6. Envy
You can't be serious if you think this would be encoded in our law. 0-5-1.
7. Pride
Yes, because it's not like we aren't a prideful nation. 0-6-1.

So God's Law fared even worse when it comes to the Seven Deadlies. Care to make any bets on the Commandments as reinterpreted by the Christ? I mean, if we take both the Big Ten and the Seven Deadlie together we're at 3 wins, 12 loses, and 2 ties. Given that Jesus rewrote and consolidated the Big Ten to his Laws of Deuces, love your God and love your neighbor, you'd think we would at least get those two down in the laws.

For a nation founded on God's Law, we don't seem to be doing very well with it.

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