The ten commandments and the modern world.

The Other McCain has a piece up about the cult of self esteem, a topic which in the past I have also addressed although I referred to it as the cult of happiness. But I found this snippet from McCain’s article particularly interesting:

Many years ago, I spoke at a national Christian home-schooling conference and my speech was more political than religious, addressing the issues of liberty involved in educational freedom. During the Q-and-A afterwards, I was asked: “How does your faith affect your political views?” Having not anticipated such a question, I was silent for a moment before answering: “I think it’s about that ‘Thou shalt not steal’ thing.”

From there, I went on to explain how the fiscal action of the Welfare State amounts to theft on a grand scale, taking money from the people who earned it and giving it to other people who didn’t. This is immoral, and our participation in this immoral system corrupts us.

One of the aspects of my consistent behaviour that I am proud of, (and it is good to sometimes acknowledge where you have done well), has been my total rejection of welfare for myself in my adult life. There have been times when I could have availed myself of the public purse but it was never an option for me, and precisely for the reasons that McCain stated in the quoted section. I consider it to be stealing, and God said, Thou shall not steal.

It is an indictment of our modern times that such a fundamental commandment is broken, and broken in such a way by the welfare state. The rejection of this commandment is the very basis for modern Western society. And it got me wondering as to exactly how many of the ten commandments are broken as a fundamental core premise of our modern societies. So let’s have a look at them.

Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Our rejection of Christianity over the last few decades has not resulted in some atheist paradise where everyone just digs everyone else, man. A vacuum was created by our rejection of God and into this vacuum poured every conceivable opportunity to worship false gods. The cult of self esteem is bound up in this as people now worship the self at the expense of all others. Feelings trump facts because to hurt their feelings is to attack their cult of self-worship.

But that is only the beginning. Climate change, veganism, multiculturalism, and homosexuality are all examples of false gods. The cult of Gaia is one of the largest and most infamous. It is no coincidence that the rise in environmentalism coincided with our turning away from God. The breaking of this commandment is not a foundation of our modern world but rather a result of it.

Thou shall not make unto thee any graven image.

There is much crossover with this and the first commandment. The second commandment is really concerned with idolatry, the worship of craven images. Environmentalists are particularly susceptible to this as they idolize trees, plants, rocks, and stones. But modern materialism is also an excellent and disturbing example as well. Take modern a brand such as Apple and the diehard Apple followers. Is it really difficult to deduct that they are actually engaged in idolatry? The warning from the bible is that those who worship inanimate idols will become like them, unseeing and unfeeling, and thus unable to hear the word of God. Our embrace of materialism once again condemns us in this regard. It is hard to argue otherwise.

Thou shall not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.

The third commandment is much misunderstood. The presumption is that we should not say something like, “Oh Christ, this is the best mango smoothie I have ever had!” While a willingness to drink mango smoothies and boast to God about it is deplorable, this is not what is meant by the third commandment. Rather, it is a firm direction to not claim to represent God, or to deliberately misrepresent or distort God’s words, and particularly for your own gain.

The preachers that Dalrock routinely takes to pieces are prime examples of this. They misrepresent the bible and twist its words so as to place women at the head of the congregation or so as to convince their followers to allow open homosexuals into their ranks, and sometimes even their homes. This distortion of God’s words while pretending to represent what God wants is a clear example of taking in vain the name of the Lord.

Once again this sin abounds in our modern world, and particularly in the churches and congregations that remain. The final stab in the back of God, if you will.

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Is there even any doubt about this commandment and its complete negation in our modern world? An entire film, Chariots of Fire, tells the story of the Olympic runner and devout Christian Eric Liddell who refuses to run an important race as it falls on the Sabbath. The moral battle in the film works because 100 years ago such an act was both relevant and believable. That it would be impossible today merely underlines the complete abandonment of this commandment.

Honour thy father, and thy mother.

Mothers are honoured today at the expense of almost all other things. To be a single mother is to be a saint. But fathers are not honoured at all. Instead they are attacked, mocked, ridiculed, and debased. They are seen as unnecessary and toxic. On top of this families are not honoured. The traditional roles have been systematically destroyed and it is now almost socially unacceptable to encourage a young women to marry a man, worship him, and raise a large family. Such a women will instead be brainwashed and deceived into believing that this would be a waste of her life. My own mother believed the pretty lies and subsequently lost everything, including any honour that might have been due her.

Thou shall not murder.

Abortion.

Thou shall not commit adultery.

Fault free divorce and the sexual revolution. We are so far from this commandment it’s simply tragic.

Thou shall not steal.

Covered already.

Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

You merely have to consider an episode such as the Kavanaugh hearing to understand that this commandment is also routinely thrown to the curb for the sake of personal and political power. The amount of false witness in the divorce courts alone is an abomination, and that is in the family, not even thy neighbours.

Thou shall not covet thy neighbour’s house.

Unlike sins of actions, the last three commandments are sins of thought or the heart. What lies within you that only God can see. This is the sin of keeping up with the neighbours, and it is alive and unwell in our modern societies. Coveting your neighbour’s house is in effect the desire to destroy another person’s life and what they have laboured to build for your own gain.

Thou shall not covet thy neighbour’s wife.

The sin of desire is revealed in our collective rejection of modesty. To walk in a public space such as a giant shopping mall is to bear witness to a crush of humanity that has made almost no individual effort to dress in a decent manner. Anglo Saxon nations are the worst offenders for this, with England leading the pack. In the depths of winter you will be visually assaulted by hordes of overweight young women squeezed into body hugging clothes that barely cover their nether regions. In fact, the fatter they are the tighter the garments need to be.

Our eyes are bombarded on a constant basis from all forms of advertising and real life examples that all break this commandment.

Thou shall not covet thy neighbour’s possessions.

The more treasure that you store on earth then the less treasure you will have in heaven. The rush to buy material items stems from a desire to plug a hole in our very souls that resides there due to our turning away from God. The pursuit of money above all other things leads to spiritual ruin. There are very few in this day and age that do not fall into this trap. Our own governments are the worst examples of this as they burden future generations with massive amounts of debt in order to satisfy their citizen’s desire for more, more, more.

In summation, we live in godless times and the ten commandments seem no more relevant now than mutterings from Delphi. As individuals all we can do is to try and do our very best to not fall into the same traps as so many around us. But entire nations in the bible were wiped out by God for far less failure than what we are seeing now. As such we are damned by our participation in our own society. Which is like being stuck between a rock and a hard place. But I make no false pretences; my own past performance with a good many of the commandments is pitiful. We are all fallen creatures.

16 thoughts on “The ten commandments and the modern world.

  1. 7817

    But I make no false pretences; my own past performance with a good many of the commandments is pitiful.

    Me too. They are good commandments, and I have not kept them either. God give us grace to keep them.

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  2. Pingback: Blatantly ripped off: Adam Piggott | Free Matt Podcasts

  3. Jerry Edelen

    Adam,

    One of your best posts, ever. I would posit that the hard times you’re currently experiencing are founding the intellectual basis for this post and that you’ll soon bounce back stronger than ever.

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  4. “The rush to buy material items stems from a desire to plug a hole in our very souls that resides there due to our turning away from God.”

    The societies most guilty of coveting their neighbors’ possessions are the poorer ones, not the wealthier ones, because if you can get your own then why steal?

    The consumerist lifestyle isn’t wise but unless it’s being fueled by debt or something, it isn’t immoral either.

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  5. Klaus

    Good for you with not sponging off the State. I was like that for almost all my life. Now, after reading, “Enjoy the Decline”, I’m the opposite. If it’s “free” and legal, I want it. There are so many problems with our modern society that I see no chance of meaningful reform.

    Top post.

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  6. WillBest

    You have obviously used roads, enjoyed the fruits of the legal system even if you haven’t personally used it, been defended by the military, etc. You have even bought products with little thought to their quality because of consumer protection laws. One cannot go 1 day without consuming something paid for by government which gets its resources with the ever present threat of force for non compliance.

    So while you are focused on the use of force in the taking (as all government taking is) one must also consider the consent.

    For example, the public school system where I live is 90 years old. There might be a couple people around from before then, but virtually everybody here agreed to it when they moved here. They are not required to live here if they don’t like it and are free to leave.

    The question then becomes what constitutes consent. You might object to section 8 housing specifically, but does that specific objection override your general consent to the system of government that can lawfully create the program?

    And then you run into the issue of money is fungible. The government spends hundreds of billions on things I consent to, and hundreds of billions on things I don’t. This statement is true of my prog neighbor. Whose to say whose money is being used for what purposes.

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      1. WillBest

        I guess you didn’t read my comment because it clearly wasn’t libertarian in any sense of the word. It was a direct refutation of the notion that the welfare state constitutes theft, because one cannot steal from somebody that consents to the taking.

        And since that was the starting contention of the post, it is highly relevant.

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  7. didact117

    I doubt that this is really news to you by now, but you are correct that the modren world has made a huge mistake in throwing out the moral bedrock provided by the Decalogue. Indeed and in fact, the Ten make up a truly perfect moral code.

    Of all of the Ten, the most important to obey is the First, of course – but the most important from an ethical perspective is actually the Eighth.

    If you think about it carefully, anything done to break any of the other Commandments, also results in a breaking of the Eighth.

    To deny the Lord our God is to try to steal His divine Power for ourselves, as it is to hold other gods before Him, or blaspheme by praying to idols. To fail to honour the Sabbath is to steal rest, sanctity, and mercy from ourselves and others – though there are exceptions, as Christ Himself proved repeatedly by healing on the Sabbath. To dishonour our mother and father is to steal the respect that is their due. To murder is to literally steal someone else’s life. To commit adultery is to steal away the trust and love of another who has placed it in you. To lie against your neighbour, or anyone else, is to steal honour and respect from those who have committed no sin that permits such retribution. And to covet is to seek to steal from others that which they have rightfully earned.

    No matter how you look at it, the Decalogue is perfect. There is not one logical flaw in the entire thing once you examine it closely enough.

    And that, of course, is why the Decalogue is so hard to live by. It is a perfect moral code designed for imperfect humans to follow.

    The miracle is not that it is perfect; in moral matters, the Lord does not make mistakes. The miracle is that humans were judged worthy of being given such a code in the first place.

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  8. Robert Stacy McCain

    Adam: It’s important to understand the ways in which we are compelled to participate in the Welfare State system even if we never apply for benefits. Government subsidies are everywhere and paying taxes is not optional. The vast expansion of government during the past century is such that the cradle-to-grave welfare-state apparatus is impossible to avoid. Suppose you are working as a carpenter on a construction crew. You do your work, you get your wage — no welfare, right? Wrong — the government subsidizes the housing industry in many different ways. The loan that paid to build the house may be guaranteed by a government agency, and the homeowner will be able to deduct mortgage interest from his income taxes, so the hidden hand of the Welfare State is there, even if most people don’t notice it. This is why a libertarian economic policy — limiting the power of government, and scaling back the Welfare State — is essential to any effort to restore morality in our culture. Our dependence on government is too great, and it is corrupting our morality.

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    1. Yes, you are entirely correct. The system is so intertwined that it is impossible to avoid its tentacles.

      I sometimes wonder if the 2nd and 3rd world have the right idea after all. You want to extend your home? Pay a bribe, you’re done, and more importantly you can then do what you want.

      In our advanced 1st world you will need to spend over a year filling out forms for different government departments, paying the exorbitant fees, and even if you get permission the agencies and departments will severely restrict what you are allowed to do. Apparently that’s progress.

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    2. WillBest

      Whose picture is on the dollar? Do you not consent to the system when you agree to use it?

      One could follow Christ and be a Roman Centurian or a tax collector.

      Like

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