In my last post, I responded to the first half of Ricky Gervais’ Easter “sermon.” (If you want to be brought up to speed, go read it. 🙂 Things will go faster if I don’t summarize it all again here.) Today… the second half. We covered the first five commandments, now on to 6 – 10. Let’s get to it.
RG says in his defense of Commandment Six:
‘You shall not murder.’
Very often, you might hear from the more liberal among us that even though “Big Corporations” (or very rich individuals, etc.) are not technically breaking the law, they are ignoring the “spirit” of the law. Anyone who has spent some time in the New Testament knows that Jesus spoke directly to this commandment in letter and spirit. He said that to harbor anger against some one (“to hate them”) was the same thing as committing murder. So, what RG is asking us to accept is that he has never hated anyone. Here’s what he, RG, said in an interview with “TimeOut London” he said:
I’m not a comedy snob but I hate people who’d rather be thought of as intelligent than funny. I hate people who’d rather have a round of applause for their wit and wisdom as opposed to making people laugh.
Was it said in jest? Is RG using hyperbole? Probably, but that’s awfully loose hate. So, sorry, RG, no points on this one either.
In his response to the Seventh Commandment, RG said:
‘You shall not commit adultery.’
The spirit of the law is at stake here as well. Jesus said that to look lustfully at someone was the same thing as actually having sex with them. So, again, no points here, RG, for you or anyone (Because, seriously, who has never – NEVER – seen someone, ANYONE, and said, #*$&….” you know?)
Regarding the Eighth Commandment (one of the trickier ones in my opinion), RG says this:
‘You shall not steal.’
RG is a comedian… I love how he doesn’t even defend his ticks. I mentioned how this one is trickier than the others. What does it mean to steal? If you go into a store, grab a soda from the cooler, stash it in your jacket and leave without paying, that’s certainly theft. Is there some kind of esoteric interpretation or understanding of this commandment? I think if such can be said of other commandments, it’s certainly plausible that the same could be said of this commandment. That said, it’s fairly well-documented that RG has
stolen borrowed joke’s from other comedians in the course of his shows. So, again, no points here. (Regarding the “esoteric” application, let me say this – then more on it later – this commandment is, I think, intrinsically linked to the Tenth Commandment.)
The Ninth Commandment is, it seems, on of the most oft ignored of the “Thou Shalt Not” commandments. I’d be willing to bet (is gambling on thsi list) that RG has nothing but good things to say about himself on this one as well.
‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.’
Well, what do you know? To “bear false witness” literally means to say something that’s not true about someone else. Again, I think there is a deeper application here. More at the end…
The Tenth Commandment, the one that is, truly the deal breaker for so many, because it’s virtually “unkeepable.”
‘You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbour’s.’
Nope. Tick. Another point for me.
Not bad for an atheist.
This commandment covers property, spouses, accomplishments, position, and, ultimately, “anything” that your neighbor has. Of course, there are subtle layers to “coveting.” However, what this amounts to is even the slightest tinge of jealousy regarding something that someone else has or has accomplished. Any jealousy at all! I’m certainly guilty of that, as are we all. No points here either, RG.
So, 0 out of 10. Not good for anybody, but it illustrates a larger point and RG’s declaration that he has never broken any of these only shows his – and so many others’ – misunderstanding of just what the 10 commandments is.
The Purpose of the Ten Commandments
To be fair, I’m going to focus on just one purpose (there are many) in this post, but I want to start by saying what I believe the Ten Commandments is NOT. Specifically, the Ten Commandments is not simply a long list of “do not’s”. Of course, that seems a little specious as the word “You shall not” appear nine times in this list of commands. But the point of this list is, ultimately, to demonstrate the need the Children of Israel – and, by extension, all of us – had and have for God to apply His own holiness onto our lives. In short, “If you can live by these ordinances – and not just the letter of these laws but their very spirit – then you will be as holy as God is.”
RG sums up his “argument” by saying:
Even if this doesn’t prove I am a good Christian it does prove that the Bible is a bit inconsistent, open to interpretation, and a little intolerant.
This is not peculiar to Christianity to be fair. And I like to be fair. Because unlike ALL religions, as an atheist, I treat ALL religions equally.
I don’t know how either of these statements is true. First of all, nothing that RG says in his article gives any support to the statement that the Bible is “inconsistent, open to interpretation and a little intolerant.” I guess we could ignore the fact that RG demonstrates his own level of intolerance (as so many clamoring for tolerance so often do) and acknowledge that, while nothing he, RG, said supports it, the Bible is, in fact, open to many interpretations. God has, in His mercy and grace, given us the freedom to come to our own conclusions on biblical matters, but that does not excuse us if our conclusions are incorrect.
Moreover, RG says that he likes to be “fair” and that as an atheist he “treats all religions equally.” This last phrase might be the most honest in the entire article. If you research RG’s walk into atheism you discover that he is, quite simply, following his convictions. But I heard him say once:
“I wish there was a God and that he was all the things people said he was; all powerful and kind and all that… but the possibility is overwhelming to me.”
What we see here is that RG is a man of faith, it’s just that his faith is atheism. Something(s) has convinced him that God can’t possibly exist. I understand this doubt. I have struggled with it in my own life as have many. It is at this point that I would tell RG and anyone reading to pick up a copy of Lee Strobel’s book The Case for Faith and read just the first chapter. Lee’s interview with Charles Templeton, now deceased, but former evangelist with Billy Graham and, at the time of the interview a staunch agnostic (if not atheist) is a heartbreaking recollection of a man’s love and los of a relationship with Jesus.
And that, really, is the point of all of this. No, Ricky, you aren’t a better Christian than most Christians, nor is any Christian a better person than you are (and any claiming to be so is a daft git who has no understanding of truth as revealed in Scripture). There is, as the Bible says, “none righteousness; no, not one.” But thank God – Who, incidentally does exist, is all powerful and kind and loves all of us very much; so much so that He sacrificed everything to reconcile us to Himself because He knew we would never be able to pull it off by ourselves – that we don’t have to worry about creating a righteousness for ourselves, but instead we can “let the Lord Jesus Christ be as near to [us] as the clothes [we] wear” and have His righteousness because “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ [is] for all those who believe; for there is no distinction.”
I said it in closing Part 1, and I say it again here: How wonderful it is to know that we don’t win God’s favor or forgiveness based on a points system.