We live in a society based on rules. Unspoken rules, government rules, family rules. Sure, we bend them sometimes, but mostly we agree to play along.
No shirt, no shoes, no service.
U.S. citizens can drive at 16, vote at 18, and drink at 21.
Clear your place after supper.
But what about what many people consider the ultimate end all, be all set of rules? The über high stakes behavior guide?
What happens if we take a good hard look at Moses’ chisel and tablet handiwork?
(For those of you concerned with lightning strikes due to irreverent humor, I’ll understand if you want to skip this one. Then again, the responsibility lies with the author so you can just go ahead and figure I’ve already taken the lightning strike for you…)
As far as ease of following rules go, I’ve gotta say the 10 Commandments definitely fall on a sliding scale.
You shall not murder? That one ranks as the easiest commandment to follow for sure. While someone may upset, anger, or infuriate me, I can’t imagine any situation in which I’d actually plan a murder. (Unless we’ve entered the “they’re threatening my children’s lives” category, and then this one bounces to the opposite end of the spectrum.) Not murdering people is easy when you factor in prison, and I’m not really up for doing time.
Keeping the Sabbath holy is a tricky one. The translation says holy means “set apart.” So if I don’t do housework, does that make my Sabbath holy? If I work on my blog did I just screw up on the fourth commandment? Technically it’s work of a sort, but I find it relaxing. What if someone’s job requires them to work on Sunday? Societal structure has made this an obstacle for a lot more people, but I can’t really see God getting pissed because your manager scheduled you for the Sunday shift.
Honor your father and mother. Oh my. There’s such a wide range of interpretation for this that I’m certain someone already thinks I’ve tanked. Are we talking subservience? Respecting them as heads of the family? Supporting every decision? Is there room for disagreement while you honor them? It’s easy to say dishonoring would be abuse or neglect, but most of us aren’t that extreme. And I know I didn’t follow every rule my parents laid out growing up – does that mean I’ve already sucked out on number five? Dang it!
Adultery wades deep into the weeds, too. Some folks seem to have no problem blowing right through this one, others make it a nonnegotiable deal breaker in a marriage, and everybody falls somewhere on that spectrum. But then there are the hardcore folks who say even looking at another person is adultery. Wait, what?! I’m married, not dead. Are you telling me I’m gonna have to answer to God because I noticed the cute cashier at Target? Shoot.
You shall not steal should be simple enough, right? And it is, for the big stuff. I’m not running a car theft ring out of the garage or auctioning stolen jewelry on Ebay. But what about that Snickers bar I took from T-man’s Halloween bucket yesterday? (Ssshh, don’t tell.) Does stuff like that count? Am I gonna show up at the pearly gates only to have Saint Peter unroll a giant scroll and ask me to account for all the petty theft I committed over a lifetime? I don’t know if he’ll truly appreciate the call of nougaty goodness topped with peanuts, caramel, and chocolate…
What about bearing false witness? At the risk of sounding like a terrible Christian, does this mean we’re not supposed to lie? Ever? It’s not that I’m running around dropping falsehoods like they’re hot, but I’d be lying (ha! get it?) if I said I’m a hardcore Truth Teller. Case in point: my family meets me at church, and Bear asks me about her outfit. She typically has excellent fashion sense, but we still run into the why on earth is THAT still in your closet when it comes to dresses. Bear’s already there, in public, wearing the item…what good would it possibly do to tell her it’s way too short in back? So sure, I tell Bear she looks great, and we don’t discuss donation until we’re back home. If that counts as false witness, then I guess I’m not knocking it out of the park with the ninth commandment either.
Then there’s that you shall not covet commandment, heaven help us all. Covet can mean either to desire wrongfully, inordinately, or without due regard for the rights of others or to wish for, especially eagerly. Gee, off the top of my head, how often have I fallen down in that particular area just over the last few weeks? The Snickers bar, that last piece of cheesecake (sorry, BrightSide), an Apple watch, Mo’s new car, another Snickers bar (damn Halloween candy), and blogging time, to name a few. I’d like to think my coveting is minor league, but I guess I’m not the one who gets to make that call. As long as it doesn’t lead to grand theft auto to pay off Amazon spending sprees then maybe I’ll be doing okay.