In my “Putting the Decalogue Under a Microscope” and “A Serious Flaw of the Decalogue” I identified several problems with the Decalogue—more commonly known as the Ten Commandments.  Those two papers do not, however, exhaust the problems with that list of commandments!  At least one more problem exists:

Underlying that list of what one should, and should not, do, is the tacitly-held assumption that one’s behavior is the result, and only the result,[1] of consciously- and freely-made choices.  That assumption is a problem for at least two reasons:

  1. Other factors also play a role in human behavior:  Whether one is living in a hunter-gatherer or “civilized” society; one’s “position” in the society of which one is a part:

a) One’s age and sex, in a hunter-gatherer band.b.

b) One’s social class, especially, if one is an “inmate” of a “civilized” society.

2. That assumption regarding the sole role of choice tends to be “weaponized”!

What I mean by that second point is that at least in the case of “civilized” societies, that assumption is used to:

  1. Explain one’s position in the society.
  2. Justify (for those in “high” positions, in particular) their treatment of those “below” them.

Let me next, then, comment briefly on each of those two points.

Given the proposition that behavior is primarily a function of choosing, it then follows that the argument can arise that one’s position in the society is a result of one’s choices:  One occupies a “high” position because one has made “good” choices; one occupies a “low” position as a result of one’s “bad” choices.

If such an “ideologydominates the thinking of a society’s members, the result may be relative harmony within the society—in that “lowers,” in accepting the “truth” of the ideology, get to “know their place” and, therefore, do not rebel against those who are exploiting them.  There’s even the possibility that some “uppers” will act kindly toward some “lowers”!

However, if those in “high” positions govern with an “iron fist,” they will increase the likelihood of rebellion by “lowers.”

Such behavior by those in “high” positions would, note, be consistent with the assumption underlying the Ten Commandments that behavior is primarily a result of choice-making!

Here’s an interesting point:

Of the four sources of the Torah or Pentateuch that critical scholars refer to as J, E, P and D,a three—E, P (the Priestly source) and D (the Deuteronomistic source)—are Levite sources.  In these Levite sources, the command to treat aliens fairly comes up 52 times!  (How many times does this come up in the non-Levite source, J?  Answer:  None.)

Thus, although the treatment of aliens “comes up” frequently in the Hebrew Bible; and although three of the 18 “love of neighbor” occurrences in the Bible are in the “Old Testament” portion, that command is not a part of the Ten Commandments!

Jesus seemed to recognize this about the Ten Commandments; how else does one interpret his response to adulterous woman brought before him in a famous story in John’s gospel?!

Ironically, just as the “love of neighbor” command didn’t seem to have prominence in the Judaism of Jesus’s time, neither has it ever had prominence in Christianity!  Rather than continuing the “ministry” of Jesus, it has emphasized beliefs and rituals that make reference to Jesus—using, though, a title that they have given to him, “Christ.”  As such, Christianity doesn’t even qualify as a “religion,” as defined (normatively) in James 1:27:[2]

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:  to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Now that’s an interesting fact, isn’t it!!

It should be obvious that a group that places an emphasis on possible facts about Jesus, rather than striving to continue the “ministry” of Jesus is fraudulentso far as being a religion, as defined in the

Epistle of James!  Why has that fact about Christianity not been noticed?!

And why has Christianity also (like Judaism) implicitly assumedas it has in “holding up” the “love of neighbor” commandthat one is free to either live by, or not live by, that command?

I don’t know the answer to that question!  But making that assumption, if but implicitly, had has consequences:

  1. It has resulted in its leaders failing to admit that the command hasn’t “worked”—hasn’t resulted in such behavior becoming commonplace.  Here in Milwaukee one of the television stations has a “Positively Milwaukee” segment; what that segment announces to the public is that “good” behaviors do, occasionally, occur in Milwaukee, but are not that common!
  2. In failing to admit that about the command, Christian leaders have failed to ask:

“If preaching ‘love the neighbor’ hasn’t ‘worked,’ and we are serious about having ‘good’ behavior being commonplace, doesn’t that mean that we should be looking for an alternative to our preaching about loving the neighbor?  For example, did not the “social gospel” movement offer an alternative that was consistent with the command?

That movement was important for awhile, but lacked “staying power.”  Evidently the leaders in Christianity preferred that Christianity remain a “churchy” version of “religion” that emphasized church attendance, the participation in rituals—and other activities that involved avoidance of the “dictates” of James 1:27!

3. That inward drift has resulted in the adoption of a rather insular perspective regarding what’s occurring in the societal and global realms—so unlike the Hebrew prophets of old!  As a consequence, there has been a lack of recognition of the downward course of our species.[3]

4. And that lack has “contributed” to our possible extinction, as a species, soon—a possibility discussed thoroughly in this paper:  “Human Extinction by 2026?

That possibility is notgood news for modern man”!!

Alton C. Thompson is an independent writer

[1]  Reactions would, of course, be an exception.

[2]  This book may have been written by a brother of Jesus.

[3]  See my History is Against Our Species!


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