The Ten Commandments and Politics

I made the mistake of listening to talk radio today in my car — left-wing talk radio (WHMP in Northampton, Mass), but talk radio nonetheless. They were discussing the Republican candidates and the most recent charge against Herman Cain, why it means this for Newt Gingrich, or that for Mitt Romney, and why this candidate or that candidate should or shouldn’t be included.  They were discussing whether Cain’s private life was the problem or whether his allegedly lying was the problem, and so on and so forth and I thought to myself, ” Does it really have to be this complex? Isn’t there some other way to decide who’s a good choice for President or elected official.  Taking really basic guidelines, here’s my proposal.

From Exodus 20: 2 –

2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.  —  The elected person should not put their constituents into any type of slavery — emotional slavery of any sort —  or literal  slavery (i.e. you work very hard for someone else for no money at all).

3 “You shall have no other gods before  me. — The elected person should not take an oath to any person, ideology, (maybe party?) other than serving their constituents and/or the country as a whole.  This means no pledges to “Never Raise Taxes”, no pledges like the Contract for America, no pledges to the NRA or PETA or anybody.

4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them” —    The elected person should not pretend they are something they are not. They shouldn’t craft an image of themselves as pure in any form that they are not. They shouldn’t pay anyone else to craft an image of themselves as pure in any form that they are not. They should let someone else craft an image of themselves as “pure” in any form that they are not.  This means no “spin doctors”, no PACs, maybe no soundbites.

7 “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. — The elected person should not ever claim to be doing things because God told them to, unless it’s actually true. In that case, the person should be tested for sanity. If they are sane, and they’re telling the truth that God said it, they should use God’s name.  If it can’t meet both of those rules, it’s blasphemy for religious types and just plain a lie for secular ones.

8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. — The elected official should take time off to reflect as often as necessary.

12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you”.  — The elected official should remember their history, but also honor their forebears by being able to meet the challenges of their own day. I want my kids to be respectful of me, but I also want them to be themselves. Let’s take that to the national level.

13 “You shall not murder” — Murderers need not apply, in general. People who like war should not be elected. The term often used is “kill”, but the actual term is murder — planned killing. War is planned killing in a larger scale. I understand that countries need to do things at times in self-defense. But war as “conquering” — nope.

14 “You shall not commit adultery” — straightforward.

15 “You shall not steal” — in any way , from anybody — especially your constituents. In addition, maybe no lobbying after you’ve left office.

16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. — also straightforward — but so far from the debates and the ads.

17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” — The elected person should not taking what’s not theirs, either from countries or from other people. They shouldn’t  abuse their power just because they have it. No sexual harassment, then.

The text continues:

18 When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance 19 and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”

20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”

21 The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.

We are in such a mess right now, because we are so far from where we should be. Yeah, we’re afraid of God, and yeah there’s a thick cloud between us and God — not because we created that cloud, that thick wall between us and the way things should be. Our government ought to be afraid of a truly just God if this is where we’re at.

By the way — last thing.  Because it’s only my opinion, nobody should ever use this as some kind of litmus test. It’s not anything else to pledge allegiance to.  But it’s a place to start.

Peace,

John

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2 thoughts on “The Ten Commandments and Politics

    • Arthur: Thanks for the comment. I hope it gives folks something to think about. The commandments are such a basic staple of ethics for so many people, it just seemed like a place to start when looking for basic ethics. I also threw in a little literary criticism and comment for good measure, but I tried to stick with the basic text and what it says. I hope it will serve as a springboard for conversation about — among other things — how to apply the text\Biblical thought to our lives.

      Thanks for reading my blog.

      Peace,

      John

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