Digest of terms

Decalogue

title given to the Ten Commandments, as set out in Jewish Torah and Christian Old Testament (Exodus 20; Deuteronomy 5: 6-21). Their concerns can be summarised and interpreted as follows:

1. Don't abandon the source of all life and purpose in the interests of shorter

term goals and loyalties. God really is larger than life.

2. Don't allow yourselves to be seduced by visual display, however captivating.

The fullness of God is even richer.

3. Don't talk of God in ways that are careless of the reality behind the words.

4. Take care to observe regular space for rest and play, when you will not be

distracted by working routines. Sabbatical time is important for everyone, if

you are genuinely to appreciate the world you have been given!

5. Have regard for your parents and the community, which has built you up.

6. Don't ever treat human life as cheap.

7. Don't break the trust of sexual commitment.

8. Don't take what doesn't belong to you.

9. Don't misrepresent others in gossip or distortions of the truth.

10. Don't be greedy for the possessions and experiences of others.

The Commandments have been accorded great authority by Jews and Christians alike. Children have often been encouraged to memorise them, hence their being displayed on the walls of some churches. In fact, rather similar codes appear in other ancient cultures, implying perhaps that some basic morality is universal in nature (natural law, Golden Rule) irrespective of notions of revelation, and may even be programmed into us as a kind of default setting by evolution (moral foundations theory). Critics have argued that an undue focus on lists of rules and obedience may distract from the rich complexity of modes of moral thinking (see too heteronomy,Situation ethics).

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