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Are The Ten Commandments the perfect moral code?Do the ten commandments represent the...

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jillyfish | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted June 18, 2011 at 8:46 PM via web

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Are The Ten Commandments the perfect moral code?

Do the ten commandments represent the most perfect guide for human morals? Could they be improved or are they beyond improvement? Does their content suggest that they were created by a super-intelligent, divine being?

 1. “I am the Lord your God. You shall have no other gods before Me. 2 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or 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 bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me... 3 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain. 4 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. 5 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you. 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 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.”

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 18, 2011 at 9:39 PM (Answer #2)

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I guess I would have to say that these commandments are not perfect because they are not complete.  In addition, some of the commandments only make sense in the context of this particular religion (not as universal human truths).

The 1st through 4th commandments really have no bearing on morality outside of the religious context.  Saying God's name "in vain" is only morally objectionable if you are part of this religious tradition, for example.  Resting on the 7th day is not really a moral issue either -- so much so that only a few sects in the Judaeo-Christian tradition still follow this.

The other commandments are based in universal morality.  However, they are not complete.  Where, for example, does it say that you should not physically harm your spouse or your children?  Where does it say anything about economic justice?  These are just two examples of (arguably) moral issues that are not addressed in these commandments.

As far as who created these, I don't see anything that suggests they were created by a supernatural being.  Most of the rules laid out here are simple, common sense rules of morality that have been held by many cultures both in and out of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 19, 2011 at 7:12 AM (Answer #3)

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I think most of the Ten Commandments serve as a good moral guide for personal behavior. Certainly the ones concerning murder, adultery, stealing, lying and honoring your parents are rules which any civilized person should follow, and many of them have been adapted as criminal laws as well. Faithful Christians will continue to believe that they were delivered by God to Moses, but many of them have a distinctively human touch.

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clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 19, 2011 at 10:30 AM (Answer #4)

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While the 10 Commandments are certainly a concrete moral code, I think Jesus was pretty clear in his Sermon on the Mount (in the New Testament book of Matthew) that He came to call believers into a higher purpose than the Old Testament laws.  For example, instead of simply saying "Thou shalt not commit adultery," Jesus said that any man who simply lusts for another man's wife is committing adultery with her in his head.

It is almost as if the 10 Commandments are the ten basics, but for those who are believers in and followers of Christ (Christians), there is an even higher calling on a personal "moral code."

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 20, 2011 at 1:45 AM (Answer #5)

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As long as it is a man, and not a direct source of Enlightenment (if there is such a thing), that unswervingly takes the time to create a moral code, there is a very low chance that such a moral code would be "perfect".

It just cannot be possible or plausible that an individual with the same weaknesses and imperfections as anyone else will make others follow such code without question. Morality is such a malleable topic that it is always open to interpretation. Plus, the codes of "morality" written in the Bible are intended for a population of barbaric, scared, intellectually challenged and very desperate people that needed a set of rules to live by ASAP. Sure, the commandments are easy enough to be followed today, but our society has changed tremendously and what once was considered to be a "sin", has changed these days.

For example: “To honor thy father and mother” is fair enough. But, as I look at the millions of abusive and sexually perverted “parents” out there, and those who should have never had children in the first place, a part of me reminds me that those victimized children never asked to be conceived, nor born. And yet, their idiotic parents have the audacity to give the same children they brought into this world a miserable life? I would never honor someone who puts me in this world to suffer. I don’t care who it is OR what the Bible says. 

Then there’s the other one that gets me- The one about not wanting someone else outside your marriage? Well, first of all, we all should get married out of love and knowing that it will be forever: That is the reason why I REFUSE to get married, because I know that I cannot stand people for longer than a few years.

However, let’s suppose that I marry someone who turned out to be abusive, or who simply changes for the worse. It happens. What if I find myself seeing my true soul mate in someone else who is willing to love me for who I am? Well, divorces take time and $$ and drama. So, YES I will definitely look outside a bad marriage for a possibility of a good one. Who’s to say I am wrong?

Anyway, it is just my view on a topic that is very interesting.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 20, 2011 at 2:22 AM (Answer #6)

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I do not look at The Ten Commandments as a perfect moral code, although I suppose it could be so to some.  Let me give you an example.  There is no commandment forbidding slavery, and in the biblical times of Moses, slavery was still practiced almost everywhere.  It would probably suffice to say that no moral code can be complete or, for lack of a better term, "perfect", when it is only ten commandments long.  Socieities and human beings are simply more complex than that.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 20, 2011 at 11:26 AM (Answer #7)

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I agree with clairewait. The Ten Commandments are the foundation of a moral code by which Christians are to live. Following these precepts will not harm anyone and encourage believers to love and serve God and others. "Perfect" may not be the best descriptor, but they do serve as the basis for the Christian moral code.

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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 20, 2011 at 10:55 PM (Answer #8)

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The Ten Commandments are not a perfect moral code to any extent; but they are an excellent beginning. They never were meant to be perfect; in fact the Torah expands and elaborates a great deal on the meaning of the Commandments. They are a foundation and were meant primarily as a civilizing effect. No one can argue that they represent a binding element for a society which according to the Bible was on its own for the first time. It was a beginning step for them.

A number of previous posters have commented about the applicability of the Commandments to Christians. Needless to say, since they are contained in the Old Testament, they are followed by Jewish believers also. Perfect? No. An excellent foundation? Certainly.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 21, 2011 at 6:32 AM (Answer #9)

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I don't think there is any way they can be perfect, because they were written in a very different time and place. Society has changed quite a bit since then. However, they do cover the basics. In that respect, they are quite remarkable. Most of them still apply today. They are general enough to still be applicable. However, the first five commandments are about faith and only the last five are really a moral code.
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frizzyperm | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted June 21, 2011 at 7:01 AM (Answer #10)

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2.  “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or 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 bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My Commandments."

So, if just one of my 16 great-great-grandparents (who I never knew and can't even name) knelt and prayed to an image of the Pope in the 19th century, God will visit me, and all my dozens of distant cousins with iniquity.

Iniquity (-nkw-t)

n. pl. in·iq·ui·ties 1. Gross immorality or injustice; wickedness. 2. A grossly immoral act; a sin.

Not only is this not an example of 'perfect morals', it is quite clearly not moral in the slightest! In fact, it is highly immoral. It is a vile, psychotic threat of random violence to all your offspring upto and including your grandchildren's grandchildren, if you don't worship this 'jealous' God exclusively. (Yeesh, and you thought Glenn Close was bad in Fatal Attraction!?!)

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 22, 2011 at 12:04 AM (Answer #11)

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I believe we need to see the Ten Commandments as being relevant to a particular time frame and to a particular context. That is not to say they are irrelevant today. They do present good moral guidelines that should act as a basis for how we think of our own moral values. However, having said that, they are certainly not complete and may not be so relevant to the kind of issues facing us today.

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godismyrock16 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted August 1, 2011 at 10:27 AM (Answer #12)

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Are The Ten Commandments the perfect moral code?

Do the ten commandments represent the most perfect guide for human morals? Could they be improved or are they beyond improvement? Does their content suggest that they were created by a super-intelligent, divine being?

 1. “I am the Lord your God. You shall have no other gods before Me. 2 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or 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 bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me... 3 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain. 4 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. 5 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you. 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 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.”

well, i guess that ? would depend on your answer to my question: do you believe that God is who and all that he says he is.

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sixdogs | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 18, 2011 at 2:04 AM (Answer #13)

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I do not teach religious believes.... what I do know is that if you live by the commandments, you do not hurt others and you may have fewer regrets through life.

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etotheeyepi | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted February 14, 2012 at 11:47 PM (Answer #14)

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The Ten Commandments may have originated as a civil procedure, which nomads used to settle disagreements over contracts or torts.

"No other gods before Me" could be a requirement for a single judge or system of courts to try cases.

Prohibiting false images could be a prohibition of equivocation.

Prohibition of swearing by God could be a prohibition of false intent, which would be the reason for the code.  Nomads, who engaged in trade, would have  needed to trust that people with whom the traded would perform as agreed.

The Sabbath is the judge's day off. 

“Honor your father and your mother" could be a call for a common law with which to decide cases.

"Thou shall not bear false witness" could be a prohibition of perjury.

"Thou shall not kill, steal, or covet, or commit adultery would be limitations of liability.  A court could not take a man's life, house, slave, wife, or other personal property for failure to perform expect maybe in the case of punitive damages.

 

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