You have probably heard a lot of people say that our current legal system is based on the Ten Commandments. This has come up recently because of a recent Oklahoma State Supreme Court decision to remove the Ten Commandments from the grounds of the Oklahoma State Capitol. The State Supreme Court made this decision because it violates the state’s constitutional ban against using public funds to benefit a religion.
Oklahoma State Governor Mary Fallin claims that the monument is there for its historical significance, since our country’s legal system is based on the Ten Commandments.
That is only partially true and is actually more untrue than it is true.
1. You shall have no other Gods before me.
Well, this one obviously is false because the First Amendment of the Constitution specifically calls for freedom of religion. This gives you the right to believe in any God you want. Or not to believe in any God.
2. You shall not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image or anything in the heavens or on the earth on in the sea.
Are there any laws against making idols? I don’t think so. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the government loves its idols. The American flag for instance. By saying you want to make laws (not that they have..yet) against burning the American flag you are basically saying that the flag itself is more important than freedom of expression. To me, that makes it something you want to worship.
3. You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
Nope, no laws against taking God’s name in vain.
4. Remember to observe the Sabbath and keep it holy.
No laws that prohibit working on Sunday. Or Saturday for that matter, depending on what day you consider the Sabbath.
5. Honor your father and mother.
No laws in our books that say you can’t talk back to your parents. Course, there are some laws that could put your parent’s in jail if you disrespect them and they slap you across the face.
6. You must not murder.
Ok, finally, here is a commandment that one could argue our legal code is based on. But isn’t that really any country’s legal code? Don’t most countries have laws against murder?
7. You must not commit adultery.
I could be wrong but I don’t think there are any laws in this country against cheating on your spouse.
8. You must not steal.
Okay, here’s another one that actually is a law. But again, most countries have laws against stealing another person’s property.
9. You must not testify falsely against your neighbor.
There are no laws that would punish someone from lying. Unless, of course, you’re talking about perjury. I suppose a person could make a case for that.
10. You must not covet your neighbor’s house, or wife, or servants, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
Okay, for those that don’t know what “covet” means, it’s basically an old way of saying you want something. So your friend has something and you want one of those. There’s no law against that.
So, let’s look at the score. 2 out of 10 commandments are part of America’s legal code. 20%.
So now do you think our legal system is based on the Ten Commandments?
I didn’t think so.