Morality: How the Bible Misses the Mark

The Ten Commandments

Here in the U.S., Christians have become increasingly pushy about wanting to display the ten commandments at courthouses and other government buildings. They've even been so bold as to try and claim that this isn't a violation of the establishment clause, saying that these commandments are merely moral edicts and aren't strictly Christian rhetoric. So allow me if you will to disabuse those fools of this notion.

Now, let's table the issue of the establishment clause for the moment because that's a legal issue and it isn't exactly relevant to the topic at hand. What I want to focus on is the idea that these commandments are moral edicts. To show to you that they are not, not even one of the ten, I will state them and then ask a single one word question. Once I answer that question it will all become very clear.

So let me start by just listing these commandments and I'm going to copy and paste from a popular Christian website simply for the sake of easy reference for those who like to check sources.

The 10 Commandments List, Short Form[1]

  1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
  2. You shall not make idols.
  3. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
  5. Honor your father and your mother.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet.

First off, let's whittle this list down some. The first three commandments are so glaringly unrelated to morality that even Stevie Wonder could see it, so we'll just mark them off the list entirely. The fourth could also be marked off, but I want to discuss it some, so we'll come back to it at the end and the tenth is a thought crime which is also worth talking about after we address the others. So what we're left with are five commandments that could be construed as moral edicts.

Time to get down to business

We'll start with number six because that one is a biggy. Don't murder folks sounds like a moral edict for sure... right? In general yes, but we have to address it from the framework of the bible rather than our personal understanding of the idea. So what we have to ask is that simple one word question: Why? To put it more clearly, why does the bible say not to murder folks?

A bit of theological understanding can give us the answer to that. First, understand that the bible claims god made everything and everyone. Secondly, understand that this claim leads to the understanding that god supposedly owns everything and everyone. Third, understand that the bible claims that god has absolute dominion over life and death. Now, put those pieces together. God made everything and owns everything and chooses who lives or dies, so when you commit murder you are usurping god and undermining his authority and you are damaging god's supposed property. Once you understand it like this you can clearly see this has absolutely nothing to do with human morality and everything to do with the idea that you aren't supposed to mess with god's stuff.

Okay, let's go to number eight. Don't steal stuff. Sounds pretty cut and dry right? Not if you remember what we just said in explaining about why the bible says murder isn't cool. Remember that god supposedly made everything and so it's his shit to do with as he pleases. Under that premise if someone has something it's only because god allowed it, so you aren't actually stealing their stuff you're stealing god's stuff that he let them have. Again we see that this supposed moral edict is actually saying not to mess with god's stuff.

How about number nine? Don't lie. Again, god owns everything and everyone so when you lie you're lying to god and trying to usurp his supposed authority. Say it with me friends, don't mess with god's stuff!

Number seven is more of the same. God gave you your spouse and when you bump uglies outside of marriage you're messing with god's stuff again. You're fooling with his supposed plan and that just isn't cool with the mack daddy sky wizard. Of course biblically speaking this commandment is made even more morally egregious once you understand that up until nearly the 19th century it was only really applied to women because men simply weren't held to the same standards by the men who were the religious leaders and because a woman's word was worth less than a dog turd. So there's that too.

Number five is actually blatantly immoral once you give it some thought, but let's see why the bible says you should honor your parents. Now, this is a sneaky one. You see, the idea is that god is the father of humanity and that humanity is to obey god no matter what. In order to indoctrinate children with this idea we have a commandment to obey your parents no matter what and to respect them even if they haven't earned that respect. Once this seed is planted as a child, one should become more receptive to applying it to god as an adult. And boy does it ever work, except on us atheists of course.

As I said, this commandment is actually immoral because it offers the notion that you're supposed to respect your parents no matter what. So if your dad is a serial rapist, you're still supposed to respect him. If he's a murderer, you're still supposed to respect him. I dare say that this idea makes a complete mockery of the very idea of morality altogether.

On to the thought crime of don't covet other people's stuff--there's nothing to really do with morality here and I'd bet a dollar to a donut that everyone on this planet has at some point seen someone with something that they themselves really would like to have. But wanting something isn't a bad thing. In fact, wanting things that others have can very often cause you to work harder in life so you might be able to have those things. Of course, sometimes it can make you want to just take those things from others, but most of us would rather work to get them because something earned is always more valuable to us than something taken. Regardless of all that, you simply can't condemn people for their thoughts because our brains are always working and sometimes we're going to think about things that we would never actually do.

Lastly, we come back to keeping the sabbath. The reason I wanted to touch on this is because of what it actually represents. You see, the sabbath was the day that folks went to temple for worship. When they did they brought their tithe, which in essence meant that it was payday for the holy man. In 2,000 years that hasn't changed a bit except for the day that some people do it on. The holy man doesn't want you in the seat on Sunday, or Saturday for those who hold to the original sabbath, so he can tell you about god. He wants you there so he can get his damn money and the more of you that show up the better for him. He may as well just stand at the pulpit and say, "Show me the money!"

Had Enough Yet? Too Bad Because I'm Not Finished

Now, the ten commandments aren't the only "rules" in the bible and I want to talk about two more moral issues in this book of nonsense. These deal with slavery and rape and let me make this absolutely crystal freaking clear; there are absolutely NO moral prescriptions, whether outright or contrived, in the bible against these acts. None. Not even one.

As far as rape goes, the only offering is a prescription of punishment for the act if you do it to a virgin girl. This prescription calls for the rapist to marry his victim and to give her dad some money to pay him off. This isn't a moral issue by biblical standards but rather one of damage of property. The girl is seen as property of her father and so when she is raped the rapist has damaged that man's property and decreased its value. That is what it says and that is exactly what it means.

As for slavery, there are only rules as to how one should treat their slaves and how slaves should behave. There is nothing that says, "Ya know... People really shouldn't own people. That isn't cool."

Now, I could keep going with rules against shrimp and bacon, rules against putting your penis in some other dude's bum, and all sorts of other silly crap, but at this point I'm fairly certain I've made my point. But I want to impress upon you this very simple idea; You can learn a heck of a lot more about the bible by looking at what isn't in it rather than what is. When a Christian claims that rape or slavery is immoral they have no biblical justification for that statement. Instead they rely on the moral standards set by secular society to make that judgment call. The fact is that they need our moral standards to make any real judgment on morality and not the other way around as they'd have us believe.

A Note From the Author

Now, before some Christian gets their panties in a wad and tells me the old testament doesn't apply to them, I want to point something out. Within the new testament is no gospel according to Jesus. Every word ascribed to him is nothing more than hearsay from second and third hand parties. Even so, the only moral prescription given by Jesus in all that hearsay is that he supposedly thought people should be good to each other and treat each other with kindness and compassion. Buddha supposedly said this same thing long before Jesus ever supposedly espoused it and quite frankly it should be common freaking sense.

More importantly however, amongst all that hearsay in the new testament Jesus says more than once that those who follow him are still bound by the law, the law being the old testament. Here are the verses for those who may want to argue against this: Matthew 5:18-19, Luke 16:17, Matthew 5:17, and many more. In total there are 33 instances where Jesus is claimed to have said this. [2]

So before you offer some nonsense from Ray Comfort or some other idiot posing as a minister, just read the damn book for yourself. The honest truth is that Christianity is nothing more than Judaism+, and all that nonsense in the old testament still applies to you folks whether you like it or not. So if you aren't stoning your disobedient children to death, stoning women for adultery, or any of the other outrightly immoral and depraved crap the old testament says, you really aren't a good Christian. Of course we're all rather glad that you folks are cherry-picking hypocrites because if not we'd still be living in the dark ages.

So if you're a Christian, the next time you see an atheist shake their hand and say thanks because without us rational thinkers you wouldn't have a basis for moral outrage when speaking of rapists or human trafficking and the like.

You're welcome. ;)


If you like our posts, subscribe to the Atheist Republic newsletter to get exclusive content delivered weekly to your inbox. Also, get the book "Why There is No God" for free.

Click Here to Subscribe

Donating = Loving

Heart Icon

Bringing you atheist articles and building active godless communities takes hundreds of hours and resources each month. If you find any joy or stimulation at Atheist Republic, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner.

Or make a one-time donation in any amount.