Reflections on Ethics 66
How Many 10 Commandments?
From the Preface to "The 10 Commandments"
by: Joseph Lewis
"Some of the old laws of
are clearly savage taboos of a familiar type thinly disguised as commands of the deity." Israel
Sir James G. Frazer.
Editor's note: The previous Reflection on Ethics was an extract from Joseph Lewis's analysis of the 10th Commandment in his book, The 10 Commandments. Over the next few weeks, I will publish extracts from his review of the other nine. This article is from the Preface to the book.
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In an editorial in the
"No man in more than two thousand years has been able to improve upon the Ten Commandments as the rule of life. To no other origin than to Divine Revelation can they be ascribed. Man constantly improves upon his own handiwork. There never will be a need for an Eleventh Commandment. The Ten contain all there is to guide human conduct in the proper channels." 
This is only another instance of how an apparently educated man can make statements without the slightest foundation in fact when he accepts religious doctrines on faith. If his conclusions were true, how would this learned gentleman account for the ever-increasing number of "Ten Commandments" that are continually being promulgated by business men, educators, social workers, editors, judges, wives, husbands, sweethearts, lawyers, doctors and even ministers? They are proof of the inadequacy of the Ten Commandments to meet all problems of life. The following are examples of what constantly appears in the public press: "The Ten Commandments of Natural Education," issued by the Parents' Association; "The Ten Commandments of Love," by Helen Rowland, noted newspaper writer; "The Ten Commandments on How to Be Happy and Married," by Miss Dorothy LaVerne Backer, of East Orange, New Jersey, on the announcement of her engagement.
Even Judge Sabath, of the Chicago Superior Court, who at the time of his statement had handled more than 24,000 divorce cases, issued a set of Ten Commandments for happy marriages. Judge Joseph Burke, of the Court of Domestic Relations of Chicago, Illinois, who handles more than 35,000 marital complaints each year, issued a list of Ten Commandments for both husbands and wives. Certainly the experience of these two judges must indicate that the Ten Commandments of Moses were not sufficient to accomplish the desired result in the marital state, and an Eleventh Commandment on this particular phase of life would certainly not be superfluous.
Mussolini issued Ten Commandments for his Fascist supporters.
The Nazis prepared "Ten Commandments for the German Soldier."
Joseph Stalin issued Ten Commandments for the Bolsheviks.
Llewellyn Legge, Chief Game Protector of the New York State Conservation Department, issued what he terms "The Ten Commandments for the guidance of those who go into the woods to hunt."
Norman Daly, a magazine writer, issued a set of Ten Commandments for girls engaged to be married.
Miss Minnie Obermeier, Assistant Superintendent of Schools,
Mrs. Herbert Lehman, wife of the former Governor of the State of
The Rev. Christian F. Reisner issued a special set of "Ten Commandments for Successful Wives."
Lieutenant E. F. John, U.S.M.C., issued a set of "Ten Commandments for the Police."
"I. P.," a cook, issued through Gretta Palmer a set of "Ten Commandments to the Housewife Who Has Servants."
The National Better Business Bureau issued a set of "Ten Commandments Designed to Hold Customer Good Will."
The Rev. William L. Stidger, of the Linwood Methodist Church, Kansas City,
Dr. Shirley W. Wynne, when Health Commissioner of
Otto H. Kahn, the banker, gave the students of
The Federal Bureau of Education at
Rabbi Jerome M. Lawn, of
The American Medical Association advised the physicians of the country to "Give your patients the Ten Commandments of Good Posture."
The men of the White Methodist Church of Chicopee, Massachusetts, issued Ten Commandments for their wives. And the following week the wives of that church issued a similar Decalogue for their husbands.
The Department of Health, of
Rabbi Israel Goldstein, of the Congregation B'nai Jeshurun,
Mr. Kenneth Wishart, of
The Federal Council of Churches of Christ in
Preaching in the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest,
Frau Ida Bock, an Austrian writer, alarmed at the constantly increasing number of divorces in her country, issued "Ten Commandments for Husbands."
The Rev. David Rhys Williams, seeking to interpret the advance of the day, issued what he called the "Decalogue of Science."
Then there are the famous "Sailors' Ten Commandments."
Albert Payson Terhune, the celebrated writer and lover of dogs, issued on behalf of the canine family a set of "Ten Commandments for My Master."
Miss Anna Green, bitter, disillusioned, disconsolate, issued Ten Commandments for other young girls so they would avoid the mistakes that she had made in the realm of love.
Last but not least, an editorial in the
"Were Moses to come down from the Mount today with the Commandments beneath his arm, in all likelihood there would be another tablet, and on it would be inscribed: 'Thou Shalt Be Tolerant!'"
justifying, though a contradiction, the statement that "there never will be a need for an Eleventh Commandment."
- White Plains (N. Y.) Reporter, Sept. 19, 1929.