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Why Did God Command the Mass Killing of the Canaanites?
  1. The Easter Effect and How It Changed the World
  2. Topical Indexes
  3. NPR Choice page

They deserve to be smitten, in fact. My fourth commandment is the fifth for Jews and Protestants, who add something about being granted more time on the land granted by the Hebrew god to the Hebrews. Also, given the history of the Jews, one might come to the conclusion that Jews as a nation have not honored their fathers and mothers, since for a very good part of their history their promised land was taken from them by others.

Yet, the facts seem to be that Jews have been as diligent in showing honor to their parents as any other people. Go figure. My fifth commandment was thou shalt not kill. I tried to get classified as a conscientious objector during the Vietnam war on the basis of my adherence to this commandment but my request was rejected by my draft board. They interpreted this commandment to mean that it is okay to kill as long as you are wearing the proper uniform. Jews and Protestants call this their sixth commandment.

My sixth commandment was "thou shalt not commit adultery. For example, I think the rule would be clearer if it said "thou shalt not kill another human being unjustly" or simply "Don't murder.

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However, Moses Maimonides clarified this rule when he noted that it forbids killing Israelites but that it is okay to kill a heathen but if a heathen kills a Jew, even accidentally, the heathen must be put to death. Regarding the adultery rule: my wife tells me it is a fine rule and should be obeyed at all times. I agree but would add that adulterers have been around since the beginning of time and no society has yet disintegrated because of it. I don't advocate adultery but I don't think our society needs to make enforcing or encouraging this rule a high priority.

There is an evolutionary reason why adulterers don't flaunt their behavior that we need not get into here. In any case, the ancient Jews didn't apply adultery to men. Only women could commit adultery. Men could have concubines. They could even lend out their wives for sex to kings as Abraham did with Sarah a couple of times.

Jesus made adultery apply to men and even added the new sin of adultery in one's heart for thinking about it. I was taught that "Thou shalt not steal" is the seventh commandment. Jews and Protestants call it the eighth. The prohibition against coveting thy neighbor's wife or goods - the last two commandments in my list and together the tenth rule for Jews and Protestants - seems demeaning to women to list a wife along with goods, including cattle might have been a fine local rule for the ancient Hebrews but it obviously doesn't have much merit today.

Some might even say that coveting each other's goods is good for the economy.

The Easter Effect and How It Changed the World

So, how valuable or relevant are the Ten Commandments today? It seems obvious that most of the rules should be of interest only to Hebrews interested in obeying commands given to their forefathers and foremothers by Moses. Only a few of the rules are based on reason and apply to non-Hebrews: unjust killing, stealing, and giving false testimony. It would be difficult to prove that if it weren't for the Ten Commandments we'd allow murder, theft, and perjury. But even these rules aren't absolute. We justify killing innocent civilians in war, but surely these are unjust killings.

Who would begrudge a spy who stole an enemy's plan to destroy our nation or a soldier who lied under oath in a foreign land to save his comrades? None of the ten commandments seems to be the kind of rule that will be of very much use in a time of moral crisis.

Topical Indexes

Something more general, like the golden rule , would be much more valuable at such a time. There is a widely held folk belief - and for all I know it is backed by scientific support - that posting slogans and commands on bumper stickers, lapel buttons, billboards, jail cells, and the walls of public buildings will have a profound effect on the behavior of those who come in contact with such postings. If so, I believe posting a copy of the golden rule would be more beneficial than posting the Ten Commandments. There are several variations for the golden rule; my favorite is "Do not do to others what you would not have them do to you.

Most people, however, behave the way they do because of the models they have had. We could require manufacturers of guns, for example, to engrave every gun handle with "Thou shalt not kill," but this would be to little effect as long as political leaders solve problems by ordering soldiers to kill. Matters are not helped when religious leaders are not outraged when homosexuals or anyone associated with an abortion clinic are murdered. Nor do social leaders set a good example regarding the prohibition to kill when they encourage - or at least don't discourage - killing fetuses.

With so much modeling for killing it is difficult to conceive of a major impact by posting the fifth - or is it the sixth? I didn't realize it but as a Catholic I was taught something akin to the Cliff Notes version or Reader's Digest abridged version of the Ten Commandments. There are actually three versions of the commandments in the Hebrew Scriptures: Exodus , Exodus , and Deuteronomy The version in Exodus 20 is the most commonly cited. As I understand it, the most popular version of the Decalogue among Christians in the 21st century is an abridged version of Exodus Surely, we can do better than that.

NPR Choice page

Social doctrine and formation d. Promoting dialogue e. The subjects of social pastoral activity.

The lay faithful b. Spirituality of the lay faithful c. Acting with prudence d. Social doctrine and lay associations e. Service in the various sectors of social life. Service to the human person 2.

Service in culture 3. Service in the economy 4. Service in politics. The help that the Church offers to modern man b. Starting afresh from faith in Christ c. A solid hope d. Index of references Analytical index. Apostolic Exhortation Ap. Letter Apostolic Letter c. Denzinger - A. Letter Encyclical Letter ibid. Migne q. Continuing to expound and update the rich patrimony of Catholic social doctrine, Pope John Paul II has for his part published three great Encyclicals — Laborem Exercens , Sollicitudo Rei Socialis and Centesimus Annus — that represent fundamental stages of Catholic thought in this area.

For their part, numerous Bishops in every part of the world have contributed in recent times to a deeper understanding of the Church's social doctrine. Numerous scholars on every continent have done the same. It was therefore hoped that a compendium of all this material should be compiled, systematically presenting the foundations of Catholic social doctrine.

It is commendable that the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has taken up this task, devoting intense efforts to this initiative in recent years. This work also shows the value of Catholic social doctrine as an instrument of evangelization cf. Centesimus Annus , 54 , because it places the human person and society in relationship with the light of the Gospel. The principles of the Church's social doctrine, which are based on the natural law, are then seen to be confirmed and strengthened, in the faith of the Church, by the Gospel of Christ.

In this light, men and women are invited above all to discover themselves as transcendent beings, in every dimension of their lives, including those related to social, economic and political contexts. Faith brings to fullness the meaning of the family, which, founded on marriage between one man and one woman, constitutes the first and vital cell of society. It moreover sheds light on the dignity of work, which, as human activity destined to bring human beings to fulfilment, has priority over capital and confirms their rightful claim to share in the fruits that result from work.

In the present text we can see the importance of moral values, founded on the natural law written on every human conscience; every human conscience is hence obliged to recognize and respect this law. Humanity today seeks greater justice in dealing with the vast phenomenon of globalization; it has a keen concern for ecology and a correct management of public affairs; it senses the need to safeguard national consciences, without losing sight however of the path of law and the awareness of the unity of the human family.