I will try to evaluate and dissect each of the Ten Commandments and some other properties of the laws in the book of Exodus.
First, I am going to make this a lot easier and simpler. The Ten are really based on the first three or even first two and all others flow from these pieces. Were the people to adhere to the first two laws they would easily be able to comply with the rest. These laws are:
Love and revere the Lord your God.
Love your neighbor as yourself.
Jesus gave these commandments when the “rich young ruler” asked him what were the most important commandments. I would like you to recognize that these laws are placed as affirmations and intentions rather than negative commands. This is because the mind of a child is pretty simple. When you tell it not to do something it does the very thing you asked it not to because the mind goes where the mouth leads. Saying do not do something is more complex and detailed than saying to do something. Anyway, to the mind they are no different – negative or positive commands. Our prayers are answered yes in Christ, right? That is because, as his brothers and sisters all of our requests are answered in the affirmative by God why would not all of God’s requests be answered as “yes” in our minds?
It is important to make the side note that minds matter to Jesus. He said that if you lust after a woman you have already committed adultery in your heart or if you hate your brother or sister you have already murdered them in your heart. He also asks us to suspend judgment – “Do not judge.”
The psychology of the Ten Commandments is oppressive and authoritative. It can only lead to a breakdown of trust, deceit, and violence. Had I understood Jewish culture at the time I would be able to tell you maybe why God chose to phrase the commandments and make them as excessive as he did but I don’t know anything about Jewish primal culture. I do know that societies that have been traumatized tend to pass on fear and stress hormones in the bloodstream to their offspring. That is what I suspect happened with the writing of the Ten Commandments. Writing commands ultimately leads to judgement and Jesus said that judgement was not our responsibility. In the bible, we see it lead to public execution and humiliation (execution by stoning).
The Top Two Commands
We all know the Ten Commandments are wanting. For instance, where is the command “Do not rape?” Or even, “Respect creation?” So why not focus on the two that actually encompass more than childish morality? As I read through the commandments, God says he will revisit curses on third and fourth generations of sinners. I don’t believe God would do that. Just being God, He has authority over what does or does not happen, whether the person even sins in the first place. He says he forged the blacksmith so why does he blame innocent people for sins they did not commit? Also, when you see what Jesus envisioned, sinless minds, you see that humans in the first writing of the commands didn’t stand a chance – they sinned just by imagining the carrying out of a sin. All people are deemed sinful according to the Ten Commandments. This is no way to start a culture. People were seeped in sin before birth. Death and murder are normal in this culture. Hardly something invented by an eternal God.
Jesus Himself supposedly breaks the laws of the Sabbath as outlined in Exodus but then He states that He is Lord of the Sabbath. Which is why I think we would do well to adhere to the two laws I have outlined above. Laws are meant to be broken. Mindsets hold for eternity. If you adopt a mindset of love for God, neighbor, and self you have just adopted an eternal way of living. A life that truly has no end. If you fuss and pick over commandments you adopt a system of passing judgment and ultimately, death. Bloodshed and violence only lead to shock fear and hatred that can linger for generations. Judgment kills, which is why Jesus advocated forgiveness.
Belief shapes intention, intention sets the framework for reality. Sometimes God is called intention by modern-day philosophers. This is why thoughts matter so much to Jesus and also why faith can save. Your thoughts about God matter as do your thoughts about other people and yourself. When these thoughts are shaped by love, they create a loving intention, a loved creation and a beloved Creator. When your thoughts are shaped by constriction and limiting belief systems your God will be punitive, fierce, deadly, and not worthy of respect. Who can respect a Creator that creates simply for the intent of destruction?
The Ten Commandments are an outflow of the first two because who would want to or even suggest violating another person or God when they are being loving? If God or another is disrespected, love quickly flows to reconcile it.
Jewish law doesn’t even save Jews, how can we expect it to help us? Remember all of the Jewish people that died in the wilderness for complaining? Did they sin? No, but they violated loving intention and faith. When you weaken your intention with complaining, you weaken your life force and you die. It’s a natural consequence. But since all things are created for eternity with seeds of the eternal in them, those Jews didn’t die – as we see, their law still exists today. We can, however, kill the limiting beliefs that discourage and condemn by not putting so much weight on what not to do but by remembering that God is a loving force that whispers “Amen. Yes. Do. Create. Be holy as I am holy.” Or simply, “Be whole. Love one another. Do what you imagine me doing. Let your faith set your intention.”
I guess I do understand why the Ten Commandments were set out this way. Jewish culture had become accustomed to slavery and a victim mentality. God needed to set them back to their original nature as loving herders but had to use their language to do it which would have been restrictive and authoritative. Otherwise, they may have had no respect for God. They were not a nation of free thinkers, after all. They were a nation shaped by authoritative and constrictive rule. Their mentality was one that was used to playing the victim.