The Ten Commandments: God’s and The Donald’s (Sunday Homily)

trump-commandments
Readings for 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time: SIR 15: 15-20; PS 119: 1-2, 4-5, 17-18, 33-34; I Cor 2: 6-10; MT 5: 17-37.
The emphasis in today’s liturgy of the word is on the wonders of God’s law. “Keep the commandments; no one has a license to sin,” the first reading from Sirach intones. “Walk blamelessly in God’s law; observe its decrees; delight in its wonder,” sings the psalmist in today’s responsorial. And then in the Gospel reading Jesus presents himself as the defender of even the least of the commandments. Break the least, he says, and you’ll be least in God’s Kingdom.
On hearing all of this, I couldn’t but squirm on behalf of Christian Trump supporters who respect what they consider God’s Word. After all, The Donald seems to live by his own rules. And those guidelines don’t seem to have much to do with the Bible’s Ten and the delight, joy, and fulfillment today’s readings suggest infallibly result from observance of the Decalogue. Or as comedian, Bill Maher put it during the campaign season, “It’s hard to bring up the Ten Commandments when your candidate has spent most his life breaking all of them.”
On the other hand, Richard Dawkins, a sworn enemy of Christianity has formulated his own Ten Commandments. Ironically, Dawkins’ rules are more in harmony with today’s delight-full estimation of God’s Law. In fact, they seem more worthy of Christian support than the one’s Mr. Trump apparently lives by.
So just for fun, in the light of today’s readings, let’s contrast the two sets of commandments, and see what we can learn. It might be that Dawkins’ natural law commandments are more promising in terms of Nature’s delight, joy and peace than what we hear implicitly proclaimed by casino king Donald Trump and his Christian followers.

Begin with Mr. Trump. Here’s how humorist Neel Ingram compared the Bible’s Ten Commandments with what seems to be their Trumpian counterparts. (Ingram hosts a website called Chewing The Fat With God). Using Trump’s own words, Ingram writes:

Commandment 1: You shall have no other gods before Me.

Commandment 1 (Trump Edition): I won the popular vote… I’m really smart. I have the best words. Best words. Believe me.

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Commandment 2: You shall not make for yourself a carved image of Me.

Commandment 2 (Trump Edition): You shall not publish unflattering photos. Giant portraits are okay if they’re of Me. For Me.

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Commandment 3: You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

Commandment 3 (Trump Edition): You shall not mock me, the ratings machine, Donald J. Trump, or I will declare you boring and unfunny. Bigly.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Commandment 4: Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Commandment 4 (Trump Edition): I proclaim a National Day of Patriotic Devotion in my honor. A great day. Best day.

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Commandment 5: Honor your father and your mother.

Commandment 5 (Trump Edition): My parents… great people… truly great… great, unbelievable parents. I’m a really good father. My children really like me — love me — a lot.

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Commandment 6: You shall not murder.

Commandment 6 (Trump Edition): Murder is a terrible crime. Don’t murder. Murder’s not good. Bad!

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Commandment 7: You shall not commit adultery.

Commandment 7 (Trump Edition): Adultery — I don’t think it should be done. Don’t screw around unless she’s hot as sh*t and you think you’ll get away with it.

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Commandment 8: You shall not steal.

Commandment 8 (Trump Edition): Don’t steal. Do a deal. My whole life I’ve been greedy, greedy, greedy. I’ve grabbed all the money I could get. I’m so greedy.

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Commandment 9: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Commandment 9 (Trump Edition): False witnesses are like fake news. Media can’t be trusted. Serious bias — big problem! Sad.

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Commandment 10: You shall not covet anything that is your neighbor’s.

Commandment 10 (Trump Edition): Don’t covet. I’m really rich. When you’re really rich there’s nothing to covet. Except p*ssy. When you’re a star you can do anything. Grab them by the p*ssy. It’s amazing. Terrific.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Mr. Trump’s outrageous profanity aside, now take a look at what today’s readings have to say about God’s law. All of them (and especially Jesus’ words) suggest that “God’s Law” has nothing to do with Mr. Trump’s guiding principles. Neither is it written in stone. Instead, God’s commandments are enshrined deep in the human heart. And human happiness is impossible without observing that law which in its essence is no different from nature’s law.

That’s the line Richard Dawkins takes. Beginning with The Golden Rule, he lists his Ten Commandments in the following words:

  1. Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you
    2. In all things, strive to cause no harm
    3. Treat your fellow human beings, your fellow living things, and the world in general with love, honesty, faithfulness and respect.
    4. Do not overlook evil or shrink from administering justice, but always be ready to forgive wrongdoing freely admitted and honestly regretted.
    5. Live life with a sense of joy and wonder
    6. Always seek to be learning something new
    7. Test all things; always check your ideas against the facts, and be ready to discard even a cherished belief if it does not conform to them.
    8. Never seek to censor or cut yourself off from dissent; always respect the right of others to disagree with you.
    9. Form independent opinions on the basis of your own reason and experience; do not allow yourself to be led blindly by others.
    10. Question everything

Dawkins also has something to say about that fraught area of sexuality which evidently so concerns D.T. and his Christian friends. But whereas The Donald emphasizes power and exploitation while his friends emphasize prohibition and suppression, Mr. Dawkins’ commandments stress the joy and freedom centralized in today’s readings. Dawkins writes:

  1. Enjoy your own sexual life (as long as it does not harm to others), and let others enjoy their sexual lives in private according to their own inclinations which in any case are none of your business.
    2. Don’t discriminate against or oppress anyone because of their sex, race or (insofar as possible) species.
    3. Don’t indoctrinate your children. Teach them to think for themselves, how to weigh evidence, and how to disagree with you.
    4. Respect the future beyond the temporal limits of your own life.

Now those laws are “delightful,” wouldn’t you agree? They seem to make sense because they reflect human nature and nature’s laws. Their observance could bring the world together rather than tearing it apart on the basis of supposedly revealed religious dogmas.

That’s what Roman Catholic (but suspended) theologian, Hans Kung thinks. He says that such a “global ethic” is necessary to finally end the armed conflicts that characterize our age. Towards that end, Kung has articulated four principles: (1) International peace is impossible without peace between religions; (2) there can be no inter-religious peace without inter-religious dialog; (3) there can be no inter-religious dialog without agreement about a global ethic, and (4) our world cannot survive without such an ethic that is universally accepted.

The United Nations seconds Dr. Kung. It boils down his desired global ethic to just four basic “commandments”: (1) Don’t kill; (2) Don’t rape; (3) Don’t lie, and (4) Don’t steal.

Could it be that Christians have more to learn about God’s law from an atheist than from the authoritarian so many Christians and Christian pastors evidently support?

In any case, while the latter promises eternal conflict, the former holds hope of dialog, mutual understanding, and cessation of hostilities.

The choice is ours: Trump’s self-serving law or God’s law written in our hearts.

Published by

Mike Rivage-Seul's Blog

Emeritus professor of Peace & Social Justice Studies. Liberation theologian. Activist. Former R.C. priest. Married for 40 years. Three grown children. Four grandchildren.

6 thoughts on “The Ten Commandments: God’s and The Donald’s (Sunday Homily)”

  1. Throughout our long history on Earth wise people have come up with short statements, sutras, mantras that point to profound truths. When Christ was asked to give the most essential expression to his teaching, he said, “Love God and Neighbor.” One could boil this down further to simply “Love.” And neighbor(s) means “all our relations – everything” (Lakota Sioux).

    For me, there is no greater mantra than “Love.” To expand it’s meaning: Love everything unconditionally. In every moment remember and serve Love. To do this is the whole meaning and purpose of our lives on Earth. To think, feel, and behave in any other way leads us into error, and if persisted in will destroy life.

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  2. How deep is Love in the nature of Reality?

    “And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed.” ~ Exodus 3:2

    What did Moses see that day? He saw in a higher consciousness the Presence of the Divine Love-Radiance that burns at the heart of everything in this seemingly solid world.

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  3. When we say “God” or whatever other name we choose for the ultimate, we are knowingly or unknowingly saying “Love.” For Love is the profound reality of the highest and most wonderful reality underlying everything. I am That, You are That, All of this is That, and there is only That Love in all existence. Remembering this Love is the Path of Everlasting Life.

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