In the latest issue of Vanity Fair, Christopher Hitchens looks at the Ten Commandments and gives suggestions as to how they could be improved, or rather why they should be done away with altogether. While I have little interest in most of what he has to say, this struck me as insightful, even though he completely misses the point:
[T]his is the first but not the last introduction in the Bible of the totalitarian concept of “thought crime.” You are being told, in effect, not even to think about it. (Jesus of Nazareth in the New Testament takes this a step further, announcing that those with lust in their heart have already committed the sin of adultery. In that case, you might as well be hung—or stoned—for a sheep as for a lamb, or for an ox or an ass if it cometh to that.) Wise lawmakers know that it is a mistake to promulgate legislation that is impossible to obey.
He’s absolutely right. Why would God create a system of laws that are impossible to obey? Wouldn’t they just be a constant reminder of how unworthy you are in comparison to God? Wouldn’t you despair? If such an unwise law-giver were to exist, why wouldn’t he give us a means to escape a certain condemnation from constant law breaking?
If only there were such a thing…