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Monday, September 28, 2009

The Decalogue - Core laws for morally upright individuals

The Decalogue, or the Ten Commandments, is quite possibly the most important set of laws ever legislated. After all, it had to be given twice. They are recited at church and synagogue services, and they do form the bedrock of the Western, Judaeo-Christian legal framework -and they said you couldn't legislate morality. Yes, you certainly can.

It behooves us, therefore, to take a close look at these commandments - all of which, by the way, are reinforced in the New Testament (except possibly the law of the Sabbath, but then again the precedent for the Sabbath is pre-Abrahamic), so it's not as if Christians get a free ride on this!

I thought I'd start with the first commandment that had an explicit promise tagged on to it. This happens to be Commandment No 5;
   12 “ Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.
(Exodus 20:12, NKJV)

North Asians (the Chinese, the Japanese, and the Koreans) tend to take this commandment waaaayyyy too much to heart. Confucius, one of our greatest sages and philosophers, was the one who recommended ancestor worship - extending our honour and reverence for our earthly parents beyond the grave, which is one step too far. But it just goes to show how important we view our elders.

Now, none of God's commandments are particularly onerous. And you'd figure this one was easier than most; after all, our parents were our source of life. They fed us, clothed us, cleaned us up, taught us to fear the Lord (well, mine did at any rate). They are our guardians, guides, counsellors, and cheerleaders. They will punish us when we go wrong against their warnings and instructions, and they will encourage us to get back up when we fall down. It is estimated that parents spend ~USD10k/year on each kid, and I know Asian parents can spend quite a bit more, just for the necessities (we're not talking about moron parents who get their kids designer dresses here). They give up a quarter of their lives to bring us up, and a bit more worrying over us once we're grown.

So, at least, is what the institution of parents supposed to be all about. While it is difficult, gut-wrenching and oftentimes heartbreaking work, motherhood and fatherhood are blessings from God, a direct reflection of His relationship with us, His children. But you know what adolescents are like; we want to be free from our parents' authority, we think we're the ones in the right, and we're outright ungrateful little beasts.

Therefore, to all of you godly parents who are striving to raise your chidren to the best of your abilities, my most profound respect and best wishes. To my own parents, in the unlikely event they read this; I love you. I honour you. I respect all that you have done for me and for my siblings. I hope you can rest easier now that we are established members of society, and while I have yet to marry, the next generation is already here. You have done right by us by any number of standards. Journey mercies, and come back safely from Melbourne.

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