Social Question


Which one of the Ten Commandments would you replace with something else?

Asked by RANGIEBABY (2097points) July 13th, 2010

What would you replace it with and why?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

84 Answers

Seek's avatar

“Honour thy father and thy mother”

Because some people have complete douchebags for parents, and any rational adult should be able to decide who he respects and who he does not.

We’ll just take omitting the “have no other gods before me” as read.


@Seek_Kolinahr I never thought about it, because I had the greatest parents ever, but you do have a point there. I have seen parents that not only deserve to be dishonored, but most likely belong in jail.

whitenoise's avatar

Although I am somewhat in doubt on which ten you refer to, since even the bible isn’t clear on it, I have at least two:

“I am the Lord, thy God” – just drop it.

“You shall not covet thy neighbor’s ox.” – Should be: “you shall not cover thy neighbor’s ox”
Eddie Izzard said it best.

Seek's avatar

Good point, @whitenoise

Come to think of it, most if not all of the commandments can be done away with.

Have no other gods before me – I have no gods at all. Nyah.
No graven images – only Islam actually follows this one.
Don’t take the name of the Lord in vain – Why not?
Keep the Sabbath day holy – Well, I like the weekend, but the “holy” can take a leap.
Honour thy father and thy mother – See above.
Do not kill – kill what? Other people? animals? insects? bacteria? Too vague to implement.
Do not commit adultery – I’m not about to get in the business of consenting adults.
Do not bear false witness against your neighbor – Everybody lies.
Do not covet – That’s silly. Everyone covets. It’s called “ambition” and it’s a good thing.

We can keep “Thou shalt not steal.”

Pandora's avatar

Love thy neighbor. ( I would add, only if they’re not a shit head)
Many aren’t even worthy of a hello.

BoBo1946's avatar

None! All the commandments are positive! Makes for a better World if adhered too….that is when it gets hard for me!

gemiwing's avatar

I don’t know that I would change any of them in spirit- but I would sure change the general wording of honor thy father and mother. It’s part of love others as you love yourself, ie- don’t be a jerk- yet the wording used brings millions to believe they have to roll over and accept whatever their parents dish out.

I couldn’t disagree more. Even Jesus knew there were special cases, I wish the commandments would show a bit more of that.

ETA- A good piece about honoring abusive parents It is, of course, from a Christian standpoint. I agree with about 90% of it, so it’s about as close as I’ve found to how I personally interpret it.

whitenoise's avatar

although not directly helping to provide an answer to the question posted, please take a look at the link to Eddie Izzards scetch I included, above. I think it is truly hilarious and on topic. :-)

mrentropy's avatar

I would change “Thou shalt not commit adultery” with “Thou shall covet thy neighbor’s ass.”

Austinlad's avatar

I agree with @BoBo1946. While the wording of the Commandments might be/sound archaic, their intent is still relevant in these cynical times. Take “Do not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Someone above appended it with the comment, “everybody lies.” First, I argue that not everyone does lie, but more importantly, is that the lesson we want to teach our kids, that if others do the wrong thing, it’s okay to do it, too?

BoBo1946's avatar

@Austinlad ditto my friend!

Seek's avatar

Sometimes lying is necessary for self-preservation. People have the right and responsibility to make their own judgment calls in such situations.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I’d get rid of the God one and replace it with:
Thou shalt not knowingly spread a communicable disease.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Absolutely. Like when you are being tortured by zealots who insist you must believe their god is the only go
If I am up against the wall and facing death unless I make an unprovable statement, I will do it.- But they’d better be watching their backs..

zophu's avatar

I want at least like, 6 more commandments regardless of what’s done with the 10 that are already there.

josie's avatar

Half the Commandments are rules about how to regard God.
Seems a little self serving to me. Get rid of any of those.
Substitute “Read a lot, learn to think, and the rest of the Commandments will be self evident”.

BoBo1946's avatar

@zophu loll..know you said that, “tongue in cheek,” but i’ve enough problems with the Ten!

sharpstick's avatar

The reason for the Ten Commandments is actually to show us how impossible it is to be good under our own strength. Everyone lies, everyone covets, everyone breaks all of them, that’s the point. We need help, we can’t be righteous on our own. It’s not about rules, it’s about our brokenness as human beings.

BoBo1946's avatar

@sharpstick :))) Without Him, we are lost….got to run!

kess's avatar

All need to be substituted and replaced by one…

All were written so that they would be broken….

Coloma's avatar

The Bible aside, just about EVERY other philosophy champions the same sort of values, behaviors for lasting happiness and peace.

Personally, I think the Buddhist mantra of ‘Harm no thing’ incorportates ALL the commandments.

Lying, cheating, stealing, killng, bearing false witness, etc. etc. none of these things EVER lead to peace and happiness, they all have harmful consequences for self and other.

On rare occasion their may be exception, but, in general…the wisdom of the ages is there for a reason regardless of one’s perfection of the practices.

Ltryptophan's avatar

I would get rid of thou shalt not steal, and replace it with thou shalt not possess.

evandad's avatar

Thou shalt honor thy mother and father, if they raise you right.

6rant6's avatar

I’d keep the killing and false witness. Replace any of them with any of these:

1. Do things to help other people.

2. Do not value your own happiness or success or suffering much more important than other people’s.

3. Count to ten before you do anything stupid.

4. Give a hoot; don’t pollute.

5. Find value in other people. Even Matt Brown.

6. Reexamine your beliefs in light of new information. Be neither proud nor embarrassed to change your thinking.

7. Proofread before publishing.

8. Eschew pursuit of material goals for their own sake.

9. Share.

ETpro's avatar

Thou shalt not commit get caught committing adultery.


@6rant6 I like what you say, but I wouldn’t replace any of the Ten Commandments with them. However, your list does make good sense.

6rant6's avatar

How about amending? Thou shalt honor thy mother and father and children and neighbors, and people who dress funny and have different opinions than you… Unless they’re REALLY offensive.

6rant6's avatar

And That shalt not covet thy neighbor’s ass but instead will get Thy Own Self down to the gym and get your own ass in shape!

BoBo1946's avatar

@ETpro Loll…that was good!

LuckyGuy's avatar

I’d add
Thou shat always use some form of firewall and/or virus protection.

Coloma's avatar

Thou shalt always get naked in a summer rain

Qingu's avatar

That’s a tough one.

I guess if I had to choose, I’d go with #10, which implicitly endorses slavery and treating women as the property of their husbands.

I’d replace it with something like “Try to find contentment with what you have instead of being envious of others.” I’d also get rid of the whole “anyone who disobeys this commandment must be killed” context, if possible. (Yes, breaking the ten commandments is a capital offense.)

Qingu's avatar

Also, FYI, the Hebrew word is “murder,” not “killing.” The Ten Commandments don’t prohibit killing, they prohibit murder—which is unlawful, non-sanctioned killing. For a religious document, the Bible is quite alright with killing, going so far as to promote genocide in Deuteronomy 20:16.

FutureMemory's avatar

Do away with any random of the ten and add:

Thou shalt not proselytize.


@FutureMemory Well I would want to do away with any of them, but I do agree with not proselytizing. My individual belief or faith is a very personal thing and I do not agree with knocking on doors, or preaching to others about my beliefs. Personally, I consider the folks out trying to round up new members as a cult, and that is not where I come from.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Eschew Obfuscation in place of the “ox” one


@Dr_Lawrence sorry, what is the “ox” one?

whitenoise's avatar

@RANGIEBABY thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s ox. As in wanting the ox next door.
Very shameful indeed.


@whitenoise Thanks, I will be the first to admit when I don’t know something, and then proceed to ask. I learned something new today.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

@RANGIEBABY I thought you were kidding because the other part was so obscure so I just gave you a GA!


@Dr_Lawrence Silly you. thanks anyway. I will return it my friend.


@Dr_Lawrence or unintelligible. yes?

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Guilty as charged!


@Dr_Lawrence you are cute, I like you. There you go.

Qingu's avatar

What is wrong with proselytizing?

If a religious person knocks on my door and politely asks to talk about Jesus, why on earth is this a problem? Seriously. I am as non-religious as they come.

The way I see it, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to spread ideas. It’s the content of those ideas that can be problematic.

Seek's avatar

This is my viewpoint:

Don’t come to my house unless I know you, or have solicited your services. It upsets my dog, who is just getting to the age where Bully breeds decide they are the sworn protector of their people and hasn’t yet found the happy medium between “Save the baby” and “Eat the intruder”. This is not something I really want to deal with unexpectedly at 7:30 AM, particularly if the only thing I’m getting out of it is “Let me tell you about my imaginary friend”.

I think it’s safe to say that everyone in America has heard of Christianity, and knows how to find their way into a church, should they desire to hear more about it from the source.

Qingu's avatar

If you don’t want people to knock on your door, you can just put up a “No Soliciting” sign.

Seek's avatar

Why should I have to put a big ugly sign up in the front of my house just to keep the bible-bashers from waking my kids up? Besides, there are plenty of solicitors I don’t mind. The Girl Scouts for instance. They’re offering delicious cookies. Or the guy who sells meat. I like him too. Or the kids in the neighborhood who will mow my lawn for $5.

I just don’t want to be bugged first thing in the morning by Jehovah’s Witnesses or in the middle of the night by creepy mormons looking for my mother in law.

Qingu's avatar

But it sounds like it’s not the proselytizing that bothers you, it’s the content of the message they’re proselytizing. Which was my point!

Personally, I yearn for the day when some unsuspecting young missionary buzzes my apartment and asks to talk about Christ.

Seek's avatar

I would be equally annoyed if a Buddhist, Jew, or Hare Krishna knocked on my door at 7 in the morning. Or if they waylaid me in the parking lot when I’m trying to get my ice cream home before it melts (happened last week.)

Selling a product or a service is far different than trying to recruit me into your cult.

Qingu's avatar

I’m not saying your problem with the content is limited to one religion.

Also, cults are (in a way) selling you something. Many cults (including Christians) expect you to eventually pay for services should you choose to join them, through donations or tithes or whatever.


It sounds like we need one more unwritten, but understood commandment. Thou shall not (in your face) impose your beliefs upon another.

Seek's avatar

They’re selling fear and control. Two things I am not in the least interested in. Other things I’m not interested in include over priced used cars and Republican political candidates. Both of those get their points across well enough though mailed advertisements.

buster's avatar

I would change “Do not kill.” into “Do not kill except under these exceptions,
1. money,
2. fetuses,
3. spiders,
4. junkies,
5. gays,
6 .caucasians,
7. muslims,
8. executions,
9. witches,
10 old people,
11. deer season.

evandad's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr – The promise of life after death gets you lots of cheap laborers. @buster – That’s the condensed list, right?

mattbrowne's avatar

Here’s a modern version of the ten commandments in a form that could be useful to both atheists and believers:

1. Do not be greedy. Do not worship any material goods more than the ethical principles that work for the good of all. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. If you are a believer, worship God as the motivating force behind all ethical actions.

2. Everyone should maintain vigilance and reject any cult of personality. If you are a believer, do not make idols or images in the form of God. An idol can be anything or anyone you worship by giving it more importance than God.

3. Everyone should respect our environment and all life on our planet. If you are a believer, keep in mind that to respect God is to respect nature. Do not treat God’s name lightly or with disrespect.

4. Dedicate or set aside a regular day each week for rest to slow down, ponder, contemplate and absorb wisdom to create a life of significance. If you are a believer, worship the Lord on your day of rest.

5. Give honor to your loving father and loving mother by treating them with respect.

6. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. No one shall be held in slavery or servitude. No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Do not deliberately murder a fellow human being.

7. Do not have sexual relations with anyone other than your spouse or partner, unless you have agreed to live in an open relationship.

8. Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property. Do not steal or take anything that doesn’t belong to you, unless you have been given permission to do so.

9. Be honest. Do not tell a lie unless you need to avoid offense or you are in emergency situations to protect yourself or others. Do not bring a false accusation against another person.

10. Do not desire anything or anyone that does not belong to you. Comparing yourself to others and longing to have what they have leads to jealousy, envy and other sins. If you are a believer, be content by focusing on the blessings God has given you and not what he has not given you.

woodcutter's avatar

replace thou shalt not kill with thou shalt not murder, put there in print. it’s important

6rant6's avatar

@woodcutter The difference between murder and mere killing being that it’s righteous? Maybe I’m naive, but couldn’t you just append “Except where justifiable” to all the commands?

… not bear false witness except where justified…
... not commit adultery .. except where justified…
... not covet thy neighbor’s wife except where justified.

They don’t seem to have much use if you can say, “Well I’m righteous to do the thing now.” whenever you can convince three other people you’re acting appropriately.

I think this distinction between murder and killing is a smokescreen for people who want to excuse violence wholesale.

Ron_C's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I like your “Bully breeds decide they are the sworn protector of their people and hasn’t yet found the happy medium between “Save the baby” and “Eat the intruder”. ” do they really try to evangelize you at 7:30 AM? I say let the dog eat them.

Seriously, I used to talk to them especially the Mormon kids. I kind of stopped though because I think I talked a Jehovah’s Witness and a couple Mormon missionaries out of their religion. That’s a big blow for some and it was inadvertently cruel of me to change their way of thinking before they were ready. Needless to say, they don’t come to my house especially early in the morning.

My wife works evenings at the Hospital and the only reason to bother her before noon is if the house is on fire. I pity anyone that knocks before that.

Oh, I amost forgot to answer the question, I say drop the whole mess, George Carlin told us how. It can all be replaced by “do unto others as you would have them do to you”. Takes care of religion, karma, and most philosophical statements. Besides who wants an Ox? Do you know how much they poop?

reijinni's avatar

@Ron_C, Talking those people out of their religions is the best thing you could have done for them. Now if you can talk some Scientology of of theirs, they will be better for it.

Ron_C's avatar

@reijinni I think that the Scientology people think they live in a science fiction story. L. Ron Hubbard essentially said that he could invent a religion for the tax deductions. I doubt that he actually thought that some people would take it seriously. I guess there is no limit to what people are willing to believe.

But I do feel a little guilty about ruining people’s religion, for some people, it’s the only hope they have. I’m an atheist but can understand how people base part of their identity on a religion.

JenniferP's avatar

Well since we are no longer under the Ten Commandments, as it is a part of the Mosaic Law, I would replace the one about observing the Sabbath. However, the other 9 are reiterated for Christians so you still have to follow them (if you are Christian.)

ETpro's avatar

@JenniferP Matthew 5:17–19 “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

How then are the Law and the Prophets null and void?

reijinni's avatar

thou shall keep thy nasty religion to themselves.

JenniferP's avatar

@ETpro I will get back to you with a response in the near future.

bea2345's avatar

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Matt. 22:37–40.

This says it all. I think it provides a guideline for interpreting the rules of human conduct, i.e. the Ten Commandments. Thank you, @mattbrowne.

ETpro's avatar

@bea2345 How do you love somebody when you don’t know they exist. How do you love somebody who tells you that from the foundations of the Earth, they knew what you would do and think, but that if you ever have a thought doubting them, that’s reason enough to condemn you to infinite, eternal torture that is unimaginably horrible. This “loving” deity made some of us so we would end up in hell, then found us guilty of following his plan which we had no choice but to follow, and condemned is to the most horrible eternal suffering imaginable all because we entertained a thought.

You’re at a conference, and the speaker suddenly asks you to think of two women on stage and kissing. You can’t control that thought. For a brief moment, you HAVE to think of that. But Big Brother, the thought police deity stands ready to condemn you to everlasting torture of the most brutal imaginable sort for a thought. And Big Brother also claims to be in charge of all your thoughts. We humans may be evil, but even the Nazis wouldn’t have gone that far. How am I to believe this is a loving God?

bea2345's avatar

What can I say? Your experience of Christianity is very different from mine. I was an adult when I learned from Garner Ted Armstrong that the reason the world was in a mess was that girls wore mini-skirts.

Recently I attended a Life in the Spirit Seminar. What I discovered was that if you read the Bible, especially the Gospels, with a believing mind, one learns a lot. For example, the behaviour of Christians is to be guided by the rubric summarised in Matthew chapter 22, verses 37 to 40. This theme is repeated throughout the Bible, especially the New Testament.

You should read the Bible, beginning with the Gospels. They are very readable and even entertaining: did you know that Jesus called Herod “that fox”? (Luke 13:32). It was not a compliment.

Seek's avatar

Many of us atheists have read the Bible. For a lot of us, reading the Bible was a serious influence in our apostasy.

bea2345's avatar

@Seek_KolinahrAtheist: noun. a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods. Apostasy:noun. the abandonment or renunciation of a religious or political belief. Oxford Dictionary. Strong words, especially the second.

Actually, the Bible is a revolutionary work, especially the Gospels. At one time, until the Reformation, the laity were not encouraged to read it. It was a Protestant idea that the Bible should be open to all, and it changed the course of history. You should read the Gospels with attention: those books are really revolutionary. This not an effort at conversion: only a small contribution to the ongoing debate on Fluther.

Seek's avatar

I was involved in the ministry. I am a knowing and willful apostate. I have read the Bible, in fact, can quote much of it.

I’m not sure what point you’re trying to get across.

bea2345's avatar

Think of the Bible as manifesto, guide to conduct and history. The fifth commandment, for example, does not exhort us to love our parents: only honour them, which means having respect for them. By extension one can take this to mean having respect for one’s family and ancestors. This is a manifesto: a plug for the primacy of the clan, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. It is a guide to conduct: live peaceably with your family if you can. If you can’t, then keep the peace away from them. The history, readers may find for themselves in Exodus.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr – I think what @bea2345 is trying to get across is that you have to understand the historical context of the Bible. There are indeed many revolutionary aspects in it and this includes the Old Testament as well. We can’t expect hunters and gatherers to think like today’s vegans, because these people were born into a different time. Shaped by a different environment. In the same manner, we can’t expect tribes who lived 3000 years ago in areas that we call Israel to think like us. Progress is a slow process. But eventually this led to the declaration of human rights in the 20th century. This led to people like Martin Luther King who changed history with a nonviolent approach.

The problem with American fundamentalist clergy is their failure to interpret the Bible in the appropriate context. They have personal agendas and they are not interested in advancing Christianity. They reject the idea of evolving religions. They drive cars with a Stone Age mindset.

ETpro's avatar

@bea2345 You agree then with slavery, genocide, rape, infanticide… The Bible is full of the most horrific, barbaric instructions.

@mattbrowne We could expect Hunter Gathers to behave any way they were programmed if they were under the direct control of an Omnipotent God who wanted to get his message out. It they were not under such control, if they were only making up yet another one of the thousands of creator myths mankind has invented, and if we recognize that, then why would we still insist the book is proof of our particular god’s existence and the thousands of others are impostors or wrong headed myths of ancient, or in some cases, modern men?

bea2345's avatar

@ETpro I agree with no such barbarities. Neither does Jesus in any of the Gospels. In the Protestant tradition, I read the Bible carefully, and try to apply commonsense to the parts I do not understand. Some of the stories are terrible: Lot’s daughters, the story of Tamar, the murder of Sisera, the murder of Holofernes. I can not judge the perpetrators, they lived in a different time. But I can not model my behaviour on theirs: not while I believe that the New Testament teaches a different approach, one which requires a personal relationship with God.

I am not trying to convert anyone to Christianity. All I am saying is to give the writers of the Bible a chance. As @mattbrowne says, one has to understand the historical context.

Then there are mythic elements: the Garden of Eden is myth but that does not mean that it is a lie. Robert Graves, in his book The White Goddess, discusses the idea that myths frequently have a basis in fact.

ETpro's avatar

@bea2345 How then do you account for Jesus’ own words, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” Matthew 5:17–18.

All those horrors are not just reports on what someone did, they are things God commanded or set our rules for in the Law and the Prophets.

I find your arguments and Matt Browne’s equally absurd. You both are claiming the Bible is the work of fallible men and subject to their ancient and now outdated passions; and at the same time it is the infallible and absolute revelation of an omnipotent God who could, if omnipotent, have clearly guided its wording. It is every bit as flawed as all the other great revelations of other supreme deities are. I’m just guessing here, but my guess is because all those works are the invention of ancient humans. Well, that is the ones that didn’t come from modern humans like Mary Baker Eddy, Joseph Smith, L. Ron Hubbard, Jim Jones, David Koresh, Sun Myung Moon and the like.

mattbrowne's avatar

@ETpro – We could expect Hunter Gathers to behave any way they were programmed if they were under the direct control of an Omnipotent God? We could, but we don’t have to. If God is the ultimate explanation of the natural laws, he might or might not mess with them. Programming hunter gathers means messing with natural laws. That’s not the God I believe in. For the 13.79 billion year history of our Universe, humankind has not found a proof for single event that violated these laws. Intervention / direct control happens in fantasy novels or pre-enlightenment religious belief systems.

ETpro's avatar

@mattbrowne So what makes you believe the Christian God is the creator and not any of the 3,000 or so other creators man has invented?

bea2345's avatar

@ETpro – Just read the book. Matthew 5:17–48 summarises a larger interpretation of the Commandments than is implied by the bare words. For example, “Thou shalt not kill” is also an injunction that rage and contempt are sins (verse 22). A person who lusts after another “hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (verse 28). And so it goes. The passage is a warning against legalism, such as was practiced by the Pharisees and is to this day. I do believe that anti lawyer stories are older than the books of the Old Testament.

As for belief, that is beyond logic. Believers, in this case, Christians, do not need physical evidence of their god’s existence.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Since so many seem to believe they can do better than God, maybe they should be a god, create something and have it not do what they say. If you have no concept why the 10 Commandments are, and why the ones named were, then it would not make sense why they are there. Such as before they figured out you should not be smoking while gassing your car, until a few people blew their face off, no one would ever figure out why they shouldn’t do it.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I like @mattbrowne ‘s suggestions. They are good rules to live by.

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