Shattered Tablets

This is the title of David Klinghoffer’s newest book, the thesis of which is that Western society is in peril because it is “ignoring” the Decalogue. It is hard to fault the argument.

Now, for the record, here’s one version of the Big Ten, as given at Mt. Sinai and recorded in Exodus 20:

  • You shall have no other gods before Me.
  • You shall not make for yourself a carved image–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.
  • You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
  • Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
  • Honor your father and your mother.
  • You shall not murder.
  • You shall not commit adultery.
  • You shall not steal.
  • You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  • You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.

The basic problem with meeting all of these could be summed up in one word: lawyers. As in priests, preachers, laymen, agnostics, atheists, and other pains in the gluteus maximus who just can’t leave well enough alone. That very much includes me, and thee.

One classic? The question, usually asked by birkenstock-wearing would-be revolutionaries, “Is it wrong to steal bread if your children are starving?” Another is the insistence that the commandment not to murder is actually, “you shall not kill.” The Hebrew verb is “murder,” not “kill,” however. Quite different concepts under our law.

See? There I go, being a Biblical scholar/lawyer/pain in the g.m. I’ve yet to read Klinghoffer’s book, although it’s on my wish list over at Amazon, so I likely will get to it. In the meantime, it is clear that we, as a society, clearly have drifted far, far, away from being under the Sinai Covenant.

We are a pagan nation; we worship Mammon. We worship the state — if not, then why should there be an American flag in a church of Christ? We most certainly take the Lord’s name in vain, and “Damn this, and damn that” can be heard virtually everywhere.

As for honoring the Sabbath, hah! We schedule church services so as to minimize the interference with sporting events or shopping. Some churches even go to the extreme of offering Saturday evening “vigil” services, so as to free up Sunday for more important pursuits. Yes, parishioners, you’ll meet your legalistic requirement of Mass attendance…

That last is indicative of something that escapes most people’s notice: we are big on being religious, on external shows of piety. Like dressing up and going to church once a week. We’re not so big on actually living the Commandments. Lest this seem too harsh, I’m simply reporting what I observe in my area.

And what I, a sinner, do myself.


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