Tag Archive | "Ten Commandments"

Ten Commandments: Catholic vs. Protestant Versions

The Philippines won the Guiness record for having the largest Ten Commandments tablet. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering that our country likes claiming to be one of the ‘most Catholic’ in the world. But will the Philippine Catholic hierarchy be happy and proud of this record? Probably not.













That’s because the gigantic Ten Commandments erected in Baguio happens to be the Protestant version, and if we look closely we will find that there is a significant difference from the Catholic version:













President of Teaching the Word Ministries Dr. Paul M. Elliott wrote:

The Roman Catholic revision is obvious: The Vatican eliminates the second commandment against idolatry, and subdivides the tenth commandment against covetousness in order to keep the number of commandments at ten.

Rome claims that it follows a version established in the late fourth century by Augustine, which in turn was allegedly based on a then-current Jewish synagogue version. But this is one of the many cases where Roman Catholicism (like Judaism) places the traditions of men in authority over the Word of God. The commandment against idolatry is clear, strong, and specific.

The Vatican must maintain the fiction of the revisionist Ten Commandments in order to perpetuate its extensive idolatry. Rome commands its faithful to bow before statues and crucifixes…

Vatican teaching alleges a distinction between what it calls dulia (venerating saints and bowing before statues and human remains) and latria (worship directed toward God). But it is a distinction without a difference. Idolatry by any name is an abomination to God.

I guess this only makes religion all the more suspicious of being a human construct. How could two major churches both claiming to represent the same God disagree on something as fundamental as the Ten Commandments?

And if it’s true that it was the Roman Catholic Church which caused the difference by eliminating the graven image clause, why make up for it by simply subdividing covetousness into thy neighbor’s wife and thy neighbor’s house? This could have been a golden opportunity to add a much needed commandment like “Thou shall not commit rape.” But perhaps such revision would be too obvious and put even more doubt on the supposed divine origin of the Commandments.

As for the Philippines’ record of having the world’s largest Protestant Ten Commandments, it would be interesting to see the Vatican put up an even bigger tablet with the Catholic version just to save face. This defensiveness and pettiness would stir up lively discussions and get people to examine their beliefs more closely instead of blindly following whatever their religious leaders say. Some of them might even be compelled to question doctrines deemed sacred in an attempt to seek the truth. That way they will be one step closer to becoming freethinkers. That way we will be one step closer to becoming a more enlightened nation.


Image from Yahoo!

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Malum Prohibitum

ten_commandmentsIn law, a crime can be categorized as either malum prohibitum (“wrong because prohibited”) or malum in se (“wrong or evil in itself”). In a civilized community, murder, rape, theft, robbery, and kidnapping are generally perceived as mala in se regardless of where they were committed or even if there were no written laws punishing them. On the other hand, illegal possession of drugs or firearms and traffic and tax violations are mala prohibita – crimes in certain societies because their statutes made them crimes.

It isn’t hard to see why some acts were criminalized since they compromise public welfare. Offenses involving drugs, firearms (possession), and driving are mala prohibita because they “result in no direct or immediate injury to person or property but merely create the danger or probability of it which the law seeks to minimize”. A drug user may enjoy his ‘trip’ peacefully, but there is the possibility that later on his addiction will lead him to steal, rob or kill to support his habit. A man carrying a gun might be a very responsible owner, but what if ego and testosterone take over during an altercation? Beating the red light may not be the same as deliberately hitting another vehicle, but it greatly increases the risk of collision.

Other crimes, on the other hand, are debatable (and have actually been the subject of widespread debate) as far as their rationality, logic and sensibility are concerned. I just mentioned a possible reason behind drug laws, but marijuana advocates over the world are clamoring for legalization, insisting that it is very much harmless compared to other drugs, including alcohol.

In the novel Primal Fear, there is a part that mentions malum prohibitum and malum in se:

Malum prohibitum is the way society defines the limits of acceptable behavior. So if everybody in the country wants to drink booze and booze is against the law, the law gets changed. But malum in se never changes. If everybody in the country suddenly went kill-crazy, they wouldn’t legalize murder.”

In the first half of the twentieth century there were certain periods in the United States and other countries when alcohol was illegal – not just the consumption in certain places or times, but also the manufacture, transportation, import, export, and sale of it. But the people loved their drink, and through their elected representatives they eventually managed to have the prohibition lifted.

Now let us see how malum prohibitum and malum in se apply to religion by taking a look at the Ten Commandments:

1. “You shall have no other gods before me” – malum prohibitum and does not even compromise public welfare

2. “You shall not make for yourself an idol” – malum prohibitum

3. “You shall not make wrongful use of the name of your God” – malum prohibitum

4. “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy” – malum prohibitum

5. “Honor your father and mother” – malum prohibitum. M. Scott Peck, MD said that this is probably the commandment that did the greatest damage (although I disagree with him because the term used was ‘honor’ and not ‘obey’) because there are psychologically sick parents who make their children do sick things, and a child who follows this ‘divine’ commandment would surely do what his/her parents say lest his/her days will not be long.

6. “You shall not commit adultery” – malum prohibitum but also touches on morality issues

7. “You shall not murder” – malum in se

8. “You shall not steal” – malum in se

9. “You shall not bear false witness” – malum in se, causing direct and immediate harm to a person’s honor and might even risk the his/her property, liberty, or life

10.  “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or goods” – malum prohibitum. It is one thing to covet (immoderately desire), but it’s totally another thing to act on this desire.

Out of the Ten Commandments, only three can be considered mala in se – murder, theft, and bearing false witness. The rest are mala prohibita and do not even compromise public welfare. The Commandments do not mention rape, plunder, and child abuse, and these acts were clearly condoned and even commissioned in the Bible. Most of its ‘laws’ are about pleasing the religion’s deity, who is actually also guilty of murder and genocide (Sodom and Gomorrah, the great flood, killing of the firstborn, etc.).

Now all this begs the question: Is religion (and the Ten Commandments) an ideal basis for what is right and wrong? Should our society’s morality be based on what the Church declares as moral and immoral? Governments have created laws to punish and prevent every imaginable mala in se crime. However, religions seem to focus on malum prohibitum, and the things they prohibit do not even compromise public welfare, but simply undermine the source of their power and authority.

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Related article: Malum In Se

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The Ten Commandments

Is it really necessary to display the Ten Commandments just outside the Philippine Supreme Court building? Are the Ten Commandments the epitome of all our morality?

Most Christians are familiar with the Ten Commandments, and even atheists like me won’t miss it. OK…if you’re not too familiar with it…

Exodus 20:
2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the
land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 Thou shalt have no other gods
before me.
4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness
of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that
is in the water under the earth:
5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them,
nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity
of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them
that hate me;
6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and
keep my commandments.
7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in
vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 Six days shalt thou
labour, and do all thy work:
10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the
LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy
daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger
that is within thy gates:
11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD
blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
12 Honour thy father and thy
mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth
13 Thou shalt not kill.
14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Thou shalt not steal.
16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy
17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not
covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox,
nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

Christians believed that the Ten Commandments remarkably display infinite wisdom and is a morally perfect code beyond criticism.
Yet the Decalogue is not a perfect moral code, nor at all superior to the religious and legislative codes of other ancient civilization. The first 5 ( Exodus 20: 2- 11) possess no moral value whatever. It is obvious that they are simply religious emanations from obsolete priestcraft. The last 5 ( Exodus 20:12-17 ) bears the same relation to natural morality.

Exodus 20:5 – 7 is a strange commandment that claiming to be coming from an “all-good” and “all-powerful” God. It is worthy to note why an “all-powerful” being will be “jealous”. Also, this make the Hindu god Brahma more sensible when He (Brahma) said, “Those who worship other gods worship me because I hear them, and correct their mistakes.”

Exodus 20:12 Now that’s a good commandment, but I have never learned that long-live persons have been more dutiful to parents than others.

Exodus 20:13 Yet the so-called “holy people” were killing all the time, in His own commands! Thus, violating this commandment.

Exodus 20:17 Here, a wife is treated as a mere property – same as a servant, an ox or a donkey.

The Bible is, for the most part, a crude literature of people who lived long ago and it emits the dissipated deeds and opinions of self-profess priests and prophets. Looking at the Ten Commandments, I may say that finer principles of morality are neglected.

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