Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Family Values

The top two stories in Tony Perkin's "Washington Update", put out by the Family Research Council today are a condemnation of the U.S. Supreme Court for citing foreign decisions in preventing juvenile executions, and a feature about the Ten Commandments in government buildings. Ten points to anyone who can explain what any of this has to do with families.


  1. This is maybe a 5 pointer, perhaps Tony thinks effective parenting requires a plausible threat of the ultimate sanction?

  2. Um, how many points to I get for pointing out the blatant contradiction between (1) the idea that it's BAD for the state to stop executing people, and (2) the fact that the court is undermining the commandments, including the 5th one, which says 'thou shalt not kill.'

  3. Spare the chair, spoil the child?

  4. It's very simple. Families, like governments, were invented by God and simply cannot exist apart from the very clear rules God has set out for their functioning. If we don't keep the Ten Commandments in government buildings, and if we can't follow God's command to stone a disobedient child to death, then our government and our families will crumble into a big decadent gooey disobediencefest.

    Like, duh.


  5. It's fairly obvious even to the casual reader of the Hebrew Torah that the command translated in the King James Version as "thou shalt not kill" does not really mean that. It means "do not murder". Animal sacrifices were the centerpiece of the Torah religion, and they would violate the command if that's what it meant. It also can't mean an absolute prohibition to kill humans, because the Torah had a death penalty and allowed just war. It's the immoral killing of people that's forbidden, and the Torah view of immorality doesn't include the death penalty as immoral killing.

    So you lose points for pointing out something that just shows your ignorance.

  6. Jeremy, you probably know I don't know all that much about Judeo-Christian theology (I'm happy to wear my ignorance on my sleeve), but I'm curious about this remark:

    It's the immoral killing of people that's forbidden

    I'd always sort of been under the naive impression that the Ten Commandments were sort of intended to *establish* right and wrong. Clearly, that's not what you think was happening (and for all I know, this may not be an interpretation that ANY Biblical scholars take seriously). But I wonder what you do have to say about it. Are the moral facts just there already, and God gets to refer to them? Was God just giving a list of things that he wanted people to do in order to demonstrate obediance?

    I guess what I'm really wondering is, what did the Ten Commandments *do*, if it wasn't to make some things morally wrong? Suppose "thou shalt not [murder]" had been left off the list. What would have been different? It still would have been immoral, right? Would it still have been unacceptable in God's eyes?