Commandment #1 of 10

So I am writer out some posts speaking about each of the 10 commandments.  As I mentioned in my last post, there are many people out there under delusions that the 10 commandments are brilliant and that they are the basis for our moral code in this country.

Thou shalt have no other gods before me.  Exodus 20:3

Well there you have it, one of the shorter commandments in the list, commanding us to put god first. 
History:
Historically this passage actually referred to other gods.  Judaism formed in in the middle of a world which was polytheistic.  As a result the Israelite believed in multiple gods, this command was to let them know that they had to put their god before these other ones.  This is actually a fairly typical command of any tribal deity (as Yahweh certainly was at this time).  Worshiping the god of another land would have looked very similar to treason to most of a persons neighbors at the time.


Modern spin:

Most modern Christians like to ignore the tribal roots of Judaism and instead tend to interpret this commandment as a metaphor.  Instead of talking about literal gods modern believers will refer to mundane things that distract them from “following god.”  A pastors jargon from the pulpit will typically reference things like money, fame, sex, porn, video games, and generally anything that people enjoy.  

Criticism: 

Well this most obvious criticism is that it makes god look like a narcissist.  He gives a top ten list of ethical rules and the first thing out of his mouth is “hey everybody look at me!”   It is hard for me to imagine that a being capable of creating a whole universe is going to be terribly concerned with whether or not I remembered to thank him for it.

Of course Christians try to spin this by saying that the command is really for our benefit.  They will often say that god only wants us follow him first because it will make us better or happier or more attractive…

OK, I made that last one up.


In any case this argument really doesn’t work either factually or logically.  Factually it doesn’t work because there are so many people who believe in other gods, or no god at all and seem just as happy and well adjusted as any Christian.  Logically it doesn’t work because it leaves unanswered the question of why god would choose to create beings that must kiss up to him in order to be happy.


To illustrate lets compare god to a parent for a moment, since that comparison is made quite often by the bible and by believers.  Would anyone of us think well of a person who raised their child to be totally dependent on them for their entire life and unable to make even the simplest of choices with out checking with their mom or dad first?  Or would would think better of a parent who raised their child to be independent, to go their own way, and to live their own life?  I think we all know the answer to those questions.


Politics:

This should be really obvious, there is nothing anywhere in the constitution or any part of the law that mirrors this commandment even slightly.  For that matter it would be impossible to do so in its present form. If one wanted to make it a law they would need to be much more specific, giving very clear instruction on what actions would count as putting something ahead of god.  

So commandment #1 is not part of our legal system and is far to vague on its own to even count as a law.  I see no reason to think that the founding fathers of the United States ever once took this commandment into account when designing the constitution.

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  • http://thesnarkwhohuntsback.wordpress.com/ thesnarkwhohuntsback

    First of all, Ceiling Moth is hysterical…or at least almost hysterical. I may have to spend a few hours on that website today.

    “A pastors jargon from the pulpit will typically reference things like money, fame, sex, porn, video games, and generally anything that people enjoy.”

    Oh we know that’s true. Anything that I liked when I was in youth group was ‘un-Christian” and causing me to lose sight of God. I got so much crap from youth pastors for listening to music that wasn’t Christian. One actually tried to confiscate my CD case from me at church camp because he saw a Linkin Park CD in it.

  • NJKProject144

    I won’t personally/specially go into a detailed analytical response to your underlying “narcissist” accusation towards God here, except only to make the following contextualizing, and referential counter points:

    (1) Contextually (i.e. the full testimony of Scripture): Having not other god above God, which includes not obeying others in contradict to what God has said, does actually including not fearing or obeying man instead of God (cf. Acts 5:29), because, as Jesus pointed out in John 10:34-35, men can also have such a god-like functions, as see in various leaders which should be obeyed, but ‘only when (sub-) acting/ruling/legislating righteously (=Godly) (e.g. Exod 7:1; cf. 1 Cor 11:1)

    (2) Referentially: As the following references best expressed and contextualize the issue of why God is requiring to be trumpingly be placed first, I am only going to refer you to where you can read them. They are based on, and related to, the Biblical passages which speak of Satan’s initiating campaign, rebellion and (physical) War against God, tellingly enough, for the same ‘narcissistic and enslaving’ reasons/charges you claim here. The passages are e.g. Isa 14:14-21; Ezek 28:11-19; Luke 10:18; John 12:27-36ff; Rev 12:4, 7-10, etc (which I discuss here*). And even if you do not believe that the author of these statements Ellen G. White (1827-1915) was actually given those prophetic visions and revelations as Biblical validated (cf. 1 Thess 5:19-22),** I still think that in those “bigger picture” revelations and commenting statements, you can find the “philosophical-type” responses to your claims above.

    * http://njkproject.blogspot.com/2009/11/commentary-war-in-heaven.html
    ** http://njkproject.blogspot.com/2009/11/proof-is-in-bible.html

    Book References:
    Patriarchs and Prophets – Chapter 1: “Why Was Sin Permitted”: http://www.whiteestate.org/books/pp/pp1.html

    Desire of Ages – Chapter 74: “It Is Finished”: http://www.whiteestate.org/books/da/da79.html

    And simply-stated, -and this all goes into allowing all arguments for something to be considered before reaching a conclusion on/against it: if, actually since, i.e., as more indepth theological study reveals, this God actually SELF-SACRIFICIALLY created this world and all in it,* and then further sacrificially redeemed it**, all by expending the energy necessary to tangible provide all this matter, then, to use your example, like a parent who is actually paying all of a child’s basic and even extravagant living expenses, then it is most rational that they require that this child considers them above all others who actually cannot provide for them, and also that they adhere to certain basic rules of theirs. Nothing narcissistic or enslaving here, just the natural facts of the reality. Another example: try ignore the U.S. Constitution and Capital Laws and see if you then will still be able to enjoy its freedoms, or even have a right to live.

    * See e.g. here: http://njkproject.blogspot.com/2009/10/book-preview-god-all-mighty.html#Godenergy
    ** See e.g. here: http://njkproject.blogspot.com/2010/01/sacrifice-of-christ.html#murderingGod

    • http://www.skeptimusprime.net/ Dylan Walker (Skeptimus Prime)

      like a parent who is actually paying all of a child’s basic and even extravagant living expenses, then it is most rational that they require that this child considers them above all others who actually cannot provide for them, and also that they adhere to certain basic rules of theirs

      In my opinion laws like this go far beyond asking a child to obey a few rules. There is a difference between raising your child in an environment where there is mutual respect and trust, and raising them with an iron hand where your word is law and you demand respect from them without giving any in return.

      I know about this well, I recently cut my parents completely out of my life after years of emotional abuse and attempts at manipulation. I’m 37 years old with a wife and child and they still thought they had the right to order me about, and tell me how I should feel about things, would insult me because they didn’t like my political or religious views.

      On this I suggest you read a post I did recently, it’s aimed at parents, but I think it could just as easily be aimed at God in this particular case.

      http://www.skeptimusprime.net/2015/01/22/children-dont-owe-their-parents-a-relationship/

      Another example: try ignore the U.S. Constitution and Capital Laws and see if you then will still be able to enjoy its freedoms, or even have a right to live.

      This analogy fails hard. We create laws in order to live in a civil society, because my actions can effect others. What possible action could I take that would have any effect on God?

      Of course these posts are quite old, but the main point I was making here was that the U.S. constitution is not, largely, based upon the 10 commandments or Christianity as is often suggested by some Christians in politics today. I don’t know your politics so you may or may not have any opinion on that, but that was my main focus here.

      • NJKProject144

        I certainly don’t want to go down any rabbit hole, which is why I endeavored to focus on the underlying premise for your rejection of God’s claim authority. I.e. it is not duly incorporating what God actually is and involves with those who he has created…E.g. unlike you and you emancipation humans do not have this option of being able to provide life for themselves apart from God. God is the source of their life which is why they now die since God has chosen to not sponsor their existence of rebellion to Him…and the concrete reason is that, as the Cross shows, an existence of sin will actually cost God way too much, pointedly in regards to what he could energetically and materially expend for sinlessly living people instead of having to constantly make repairing expense on people who are preferring to live out a deathly culture. That is all what is theologically and tangibly involved with God, and thus His inherent right to give the basic “Constitutional” Laws. Indeed, in regards to the wider affectations here, the well-being of God’s entire Universe is actually threatened by even this lone planet in sinful rebellion and rather than take away from others to redundantly expend on us, He, through Jesus Christ, instead decided to sacrifice part of Himself to provide for that added reparation expense. Again I cover all this in those provided posts.

        In regards to unethical claims, I cover that in my EvilBible response post, and the fundamental understanding is that God is aware of much more than we are. So at best, He just did not see fit to explain those justifying reasons to people then, just like a parent typically does not give all the reasons why a command of theirs should be just obeyed by their child. They are just not ready for such explanations. That is the same with God and humans, especially in regards to their deficient Spiritual Maturity. God is just that much beyond the intellect/understanding of Man, so, at least for now, it is best for man to just trust Him and His Judgement and obey. (Cf. E.g. with the Sodom and Gomorrah destruction haggling in Gen 18:20-33)

        Again you need to at the very least, consider all of the elements involved in those Biblical issues, and indeed “reading up” on what is actually known and believe by others is the basic necessity here. If you are insisting on limiting your claims to only what you know and understand, then really what’s the supposed “non-disingenuous” point of wanting to “discuss” what you are posting.

        Btw, I do not believe that the Bible or Ten Commandments is to be the final authority in a DEMOCRATIC government (nor do I believe that the U.S. was, is, or is destined to be a “Christian Nation”….and the Bible’s prophecies about the U.S. actually predicts that, just like with “Babylon” during the days of the Holy Roman Empire, (Protestant) Christians will be endeavoring to do this, and by such means, be implementing the Mark of the Beast. (Rev 13:11-18)

        • http://www.skeptimusprime.net/ Dylan Walker (Skeptimus Prime)

          As I’ve pointing out I’m familiar with every single rationalization you are providing here.

          God is the source of their life which is why they now die since God has chosen to not sponsor their existence of rebellion to Him

          I know enough biology to know that this is not why things die.

          You keep asking me to read the bible on it’s terms, but if you got your head out of the bible and read half of the science/history/philosophy that I’ve read you would see how silly most of the arguments you are making sound.

          And again, just so arguments about how the bible god is really ethical, despite not fitting the definition of that word, I don’t care about what might be true, I care about what can actually be shown to be true, and I don’t raise my children to just unthinkingly do what they are told, “because I said so” is an awful parenting method, when they want to know why something is I plan to at least try to explain it to them, because I want my children to be autonomous moral agents when they are adults, capable of actually engaging on complicated moral issues instead of just following orders.

          There are reasons that moral philosophers, even the Christian ones like Kant and Locke, stayed far away from divine command ethics. I’m not prepared to subsume my moral judgments to anyone else.

          Besides, I’m willing to stake just about everything on the notion that things like genocide and slavery are objectively wrong, and there isn’t any situation or justification that will make those acts less than evil.

          Again you need to at the very least, consider all of the elements involved in those Biblical issues, and indeed “reading up” on what is actually known and believe by others is the basic necessity here. If you are insisting on limiting your claims to only what you know and understand, then really what’s the supposed “non-disingenuous” point of wanting to “discuss” what you are posting.

          There is a major difference between refusing to consider another position and rejecting that position after considering it and finding the evidence for it lacking or the logic unsound.

          I’ll reiterate for about the 1000th time here that I have “read up” on these things. I know it seems impossible to you but some of us have read these arguments and then rejected them. Telling me I can’t understand god and then demanding I just accept that claim, and all that goes with it prima facie is not an argument, and implying that I’m being disingenuous when I refuse to debate on those terms is insulting to both me and my intelligence, so please refrain from ad homs

          Btw, I do not believe that the Bible or Ten Commandments is to be the final authority in a DEMOCRATIC government

          Well good, you are one up on most Republicans, at least in this regard.

          Again, I doubt we are going to change each others minds, so I might suggest we have this conversation in a public forum, would you be interested in doing some sort of informal debate through a hangout or something, I could set it up.