Wow! Two weeks since I last did a blog entry! Thank you to all readers, I hope and pray that I am not boring you.
I promised that I would write an entry on my views on God's Laws because I often refer to them. Christian Anarchism holds us accountable to God's Laws alone, and if civil laws are in line with these then we have no reason to disobey them, remembering if we do disobey them and are then caught the punishments come from the devil, not God. God will forgive us, He is not a punishing God. Of course as a non-violent anarchist I do not forsake my concern that we should all relinquish our belief and dependence on institutional authority in all its forms; militarism, civil government, the capitalist economy, big business, the divide between the rich and the poor, and the lesser institutions of authoritarianism such as established Churches and state schools.
Well the best place to start has to be the Ten Commandments, and I am going to use the festooning approach from C. S. Lewis as I described in my previous entry on Romans 13, and take each Commandment one at a time. I was going to use the Good News Bible again, but on reading its verses I was forced to refer to Wiki and now know that I have opened a can of worms regarding the texts of Scripture in all its forms! Apparently the number 'ten' is a simple man-made device to make God's Laws easier to remember, but modern translations of the Bible are compelled to stick to the original writings and are not that simple. Wiki is very good at analyzing the complexities, textual origins and historicities, far too complex for me now so I will quote the Ten Commandments from one of the many popular posters which are available. I also noticed an immediate problem for me in the Good News verses, with their quite repetitive referral to God's punishments if His Commandments are broken. I would have to express my disagreement with these referrals, thereby contravening Lewis's suggestion that his festoons should not 'obliterate the plain, public sense of the petition'. I do not have this problem with these popular versions of the Ten Commandments, there are no mentions of God's punishment. By the way, the use of the word 'Commandment' could also have been a problem for me, suggesting an authoritarian approach, but having briefly looked at its etymology I find it is of Middle English origin and only appears in modern translations of the Bible.
1. "THOU SHALT HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME".
For me this presents no problem whatsoever. Scientism is debunked, monetarism is debunked, along with materialism, consumerism, capitalism, governmentalism, national statism and any other "-ism's", including Christian Anarchism. Concerning science, one of God's gifts to man along with engineering, technology and the arts and crafts, God would not give us such a gift if He wanted us to use it to 'prove' that He does not exist. Our endeavours in science bring us closer to God, and to the realization that His creation could not have come by chance.
2. "THOU SHALT NOT WORSHIP ANY GRAVEN IMAGE".
To worship God is solely a spiritual endeavour, which I do through prayer, thought, talking and writing. Not that I do not appreciate and enjoy man's efforts to create beautiful things to the glory of God, but I do not worship them. Spiritually moving music, drama, any of the arts and crafts are all acceptable to me, along with architecture, mega-structures ancient and modern, especially cathedrals, but also natural objects such as mountains, the sky and sea, the sun, moon and stars. I admire many things, but taking the meaning of the word 'worship' in its fullest sense I only worship God, through Jesus.
3. ''THOU SHALT NOT TAKE GOD'S NAME IN VAIN''.
Blasphemy is a problem for all of us. I am prone to cursing (using bad language), mostly to myself nowadays but throughout my life I have never been able to put it aside. It seems to relieve the emotional stress I am experiencing and diffuses my unavoidable human propensity to engage in violence of a more physical sort. The only other activity which diffused this was my engagement, during my younger days when I was physically fit, in strenuous physical exercise resulting in productive work like gardening or cleaning, or in the sports I played. God has many names, but the only ones I ever use are 'God', 'Christ' and 'Jesus', and I do say them, sometimes out loud but only to myself, to relieve my emotional stress as described. Please God forgive me, but I am sure He understands my mortal difficulties and accepts that I am not cursing Him or "taking His Name in vain", but petitioning Him for His help and support, which He always gives anyway, and petitionary prayers are quite in order.
4. ''REMEMBER THE SABBATH TO KEEP IT HOLY''.
I am no literalist and cannot go along with the Genesis account of creation, therefore I could argue that the seventh day has no meaning for me. In some respects that is true, for me every day is holy, all work is God's work and can be done any day of the week, along with resting any day and worshipping God, thereby keeping it holy. However I think we can accurately count back to the death and resurrection of Jesus, which are important, and I can go along with Paul who claimed he wrote Revelation on the Lord's Day, which for me is the day of the resurrection. I am a Christian, and do not hold great adherence to the behaviour and religious practices of the people described in the Old Testament. I am not Jewish, but everyone in an anarchist society is entitled to hold whatever views they like, as long as they do not interfere with the freedom of others.
5. ''HONOUR THY FATHER AND THY MOTHER''.
This has little to do with anyone's religious affiliations, I think. It is purely biological, cultural and spiritual. We have evolved as a unique species through sexual reproduction, and the care of its young is manifested in all other species using this mechanism. Our own culture encourages our dependence on our parents, family life is sacrosanct and if we are unfortunate enough to lose our parents society should make provisions for adequate substitutes. When we become independent this cultural experience gives us a spiritual attachment to our carers and are able to pass on the same care to our dependents.
6. ''THOU SHALT NOT KILL''.
This is an obvious and agreeable Law but we must attach some reservations. Vegetarianism is an interesting thought, but I do not attach it specifically to Christian living. We are an evolving species and we are omnivore, therefore it is within God's Law to kill and eat animals, plants and fungi. We also need to kill to protect ourselves from attack by animals, and to prevent us from catching disease. Applying this Law particularly to our fellow creatures goes without saying, Jesus was non-violent, pacifist and anarchist. Militarism and war were never advocated in His teachings.
7. ''THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT ADULTERY''.
The reference in my festoon on the Fifth Commandment to the sacredness of family life adequately deals with this. Our physical sexual desires have to be met along with all of our other physical needs; breathing, eating and defecating. If we are not married then activities which do this are acceptable as long as they do not result in the pro-creation of children. Once married, one man with one woman, then any physical sexual activity which does not involve the man and his wife in total union with each other and no-one else, can be deemed as adulterous, and breaks God's Law. If we do it, we can only pray and ask for God's forgiveness. I am not referring to Roman Catholics and their confessional procedures. We must ask for God's forgiveness, not the Pope's, which is a spiritual enterprise.
8. ''THOU SHALT NOT STEAL''.
Well, as an anarchist I find this a very interesting and debatable Law. Of course we must not 'steal' a person's reputation through gossip and lies, and we must respect a person's material possessions which they hold dearly. When all things are equal, it is unlikely that a person will possess (own?) something which we ourselves might covert, and covertness is a sin, the breaking of one of God's Laws. However, in our material world I cannot help but to align myself with the idea that 'property is theft', as the self-declared anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon wrote. Therefore if anyone claims that they own some material entity, I have to counter them with the idea that we came into this life with nothing, and we cannot take anything with us. As a young anarchist when anyone stole anything from me I used to accept that their need was greater than mine, and I continue to hold that position. Stealing is not really part of any of my concerns, but the Commandment is interesting and important to consider.
9. ''THOU SHALT NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS''.
I had to do a little searching on the meaning of these words. I find that it simply means that we should not tell a lie, a fib, a porky, or whatever other idiomatic word we might use to describe it. Even a 'white lie' is questionable to me, truth is supreme, and with God at our side we can endure the worst. In all of these examples, I cannot fail but to agree. Lying is a sin.
10. ''THOU SHALT NOT COVERT''.
I have dealt with this in my festoons on the Eighth Commandment. The Bible repeats itself to the point of boredom, for me. However, this Commandment is probably referring to the very idea of even thinking about wanting something which someone else appears to possess. My wife and myself, at our old age, are becoming increasingly unhappy about many of our family and friends who occasionally visit in that they come through our door and seem to look at our possessions and what they might get when we pass away. God may well take them before us, and if we want to give then leave it to us!
There we go, I have spent a morning writing this whilst waiting for the impending impeachment of Donald Trump. I have had a strong drink, and thank God for His blessings. I think He is inspiring me to continue to place entries on my blog. Thank you for reading, God bless.
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