The alternative 10 commandments

After penning the open letter to the Rev. Fred Nile, "That doesn't sound very Christian to me", in support of same-sex marriage, I received hundreds of emails from readers. The majority supported the sentiments expressed, some were apologetic for the extremist mores of fellow Christians, while others were outright hostile.

One charming email trail from a gentleman named Phillip began with profanity and, when I chided him for his lack of Christian values, proceeded to outright obscenity and threats.

"I'm not one of those pathetic turn-the-other-cheek Christians, arsehole. I'm more into an eye for an eye," said Phil, oblivious to his dissing the most famed turn-the-other-cheek Christian, Jesus Christ.

He then claimed the 'Son of God' would actually be proud of his robust defence because, y'know, an all-powerful, all-knowing super-being needs all the help he can get from keyboard tough guys.

(I particularly enjoyed the fact Phil threatened me on the Sabbath).

Other emails predictably descended into theological bickering, quoting scripture and arguing that without God's word to follow on issues like who we can shag in the privacy of our own homes, the world would surrender to chaos and catamites because we'd have no moral compass to guide us.

Phillip no doubt considers himself a moral person because of his (somewhat patchy) adherence to Old Testament ideals, as I'm sure does the very Reverend Fred Nile.

Nile, as outlined in the above-mentioned blog, recently helped block a bill in the Upper House of the NSW Parliament to legalise same-sex marriage, describing the legislation as having originated in the "depths of Hell".

He has also been vocal in his support for James Packer's new casino (featuring indoor smoking for high rollers) at Barangaroo on Sydney Harbour - despite previous public positions condemning the vices of gambling and durries.

However, when the time came to vote on the development dubbed 'Packer's Pecker', Nile reversed his support, leading Sydney Morning Herald state political editor, Sean Nicholls, to suggest Nile's behaviour was "duplicitous".

If nothing else, it shows Nile is quite happy to abandon both principles and/or stated positions for political gain.

He strikes me as a very public manifestation of the religious habit of quoting holy verses to shitcan stuff the pious disagree with, yet when said scripture inconveniently conflicts with the believer's modern needs, it's ignored or "not meant to be taken literally".

As I said in the above post, this is my main beef with the Bible and many Christians (not to mention, Bible-quoting Christian politicians); they pick and choose which parts of their holy book they take seriously.

There are numerous brutal, bizarre pronouncements from God in the Bible which, if taken literally and enacted, would see a person locked up in jail for a very long time.

However, even if we leave aside the deepest Biblical weirdness and go straight to the vaunted Ten Commandments - we still find a pretty limp and irrelevant list of values for modern society to be built upon.

I've got no problem with honouring my parents (Commandment No.5) and refraining from murder (No.6), theft (No.8) and lying about my neighbour (No.9) but the adultery thing (No.7) seems a little statistically unrealistic and, if you live in my neighbourhood, it's tough not coveting (No.10) a whole lot of stuff - You should see my neighbour's wife!

Aside from this, the first four commandments are just plain silly and sound like the instructions of an insecure, scarily-possessive teenage boy to his girlfriend before she goes away to schoolies without him.

Believe in me, alone!

Worship no images!

Don't take my name in vain!

Don't get busy on Sunday!

Many, many people are happy, law-biding, productive, loving citizens without the word of God, the Bible and the Ten Commandments to guide them, yet for billions of Christians these are held up as the blueprint for living a good life.

I'm a massive fan of ancient wisdom, but I reckon if you're looking for a practical guide to living a happy, law-biding, productive, loving life you might want to consult a list written within a millennium of your birthday. Right and wrong should be defined by humans who share an understanding of the world we all live in.

Christopher Hitchen's alternative ten commandments work for me, as does Richard Dawkins' list and A. C Grayling's. I particularly like that Grayling and Hitchens include a commandment suggesting we respect nature - something God seemed to forget all about in his hurry to have us respect Him.

If I was to take a crack at an alternative ten commandments it'd go something like this:

1. Be kind (that takes care of not killing, stealing, lying, etc).
2. Be brave.
3. Be curious. Seek the truth. Question everything.
4. Don't waste.
5. Love as much as you can and never hate.
6. Respect, protect and guide - particularly the very old and young. 
7. Respect your body.
8. Respect nature.
9. Be a great shag.
10. Never wear sandals.

See, that last one's yet another thing Jesus and I disagree about.

You've probably got your own set of alternative commandments. Feel free to share.

You can follow Sam on Twitter here. His email address is here.

Please don't take it personally if I do not reply to your email as they come in thick and fast depending on the topic. Please know, I appreciate you taking the time to write and comment and would offer mummy hugs to all.