The 10 Commandments as a Basis for Morality?
10. Thou shalt not covet.
- 17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.
This is an extremely troubling commandment in my view. First of all there is the underlying sexism whereby a wife is considered property, valued somewhere between a house and a servant. Secondly, there is a denial of human nature.
Even if a person succeeds in following the first nine faultlessly, it is just not possible to obey this last one. Nobody has ever lived without seeing a neighbour's possession and thinking at least transiently "I gotta get one of those!"
And what is wrong with coveting your neighbour's possessions on occasion. As long as you don't act on your desires and steal from your neighbour, there is nothing wrong. There is already a commandment against stealing. There is already one dealing with adultery. This rule deals not with how you act, but with how you think.
The only reason for this particular commandment is to make it impossible to follow the rules. It makes everyone a sinner. This is a complete denial of our human nature. It has nothing to do with morality.
Moral value of the tenth commandment: 0 / 10
See Reflection 65 for another view of the 10th commandment which suggests that "covet" had quite a different meaning to the ancient Israelites than it does in English today.
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