The 10 Commandments and Me

Dan Hanrahan
3 min readJun 21, 2024


Illinois Prairie

1. You shall have no other gods before Me.

This is tricky because I don’t have you as a god in the first place. I don’t have you or any other being as a god, so this commandment is not applicable.

2. You shall make no idols.

I don’t think you exist, so what you tell me to do or not do is immaterial. Nonetheless, as regards idols, I’ve not made any so far in my life and don’t anticipate fashioning any to worship moving forward. I would say I’ll check in with you if and when I do decide to make an idol to worship, but I don’t believe you exist so I can’t really do that.

3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

Once again, I don’t believe in your existence, so I’m not even sure it’s possible to disrespectfully speak the name of a being who I don’t believe exists. Names need to apply to entities and you are not an entity in whom I believe. Interestingly, I do believe in your existence as an important mythological figure for many people. I’m just not one of those people.

4. Keep the Sabbath day holy.

I totally agree with the sentiment. We definitely should set aside time to dwell in contemplation and communion with the sacredness infused throughout the universe. (In fact, I think it should happen far more than one day a week). But since you mean by “the Sabbath,” a day to worship you, I shan’t be following this order either.

5. Honor your father and your mother.

Most definitely. That’s pretty basic and universal. The only issue is when one has a father or a mother who is mean or abusive. Mean or abusive people should not be honored.

6. You shall not murder.

I shouldn’t murder. You, if you existed, should not murder. Nobody should murder. This one is somewhat ironic because throughout history people have murdered prolifically in your name. It is a paradox, isn’t it?

7. You shall not commit adultery.

Right. Cheating on your partner is bad, albeit remarkably common throughout human history. Of late, people have been experimenting with consensual polyamory relationships. I would not consider those to be adulterous because they do not involve deception and betrayal, as far as I know. If you existed, this might be something you could look into.

8. You shall not steal.

Again, kind of a no-brainer. But, again, a bit too vague, as well. When Christian Englishmen privatized common lands throughout England, it was not labeled theft, but I would label it as theft. I live in Illinois, where private, individual ownership of large spaces of land and large dwellings was highly uncommon for 10,000 years until Christians arrived here 300 years ago. When these traditionally commonly held lands ended up in individual Christian European hands, it was also theft, but was not labeled as such, etc.

9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Agreed. Lying is bad under most circumstances. I can imagine lying to power to protect somebody who is being unfairly targeted or exploited, but in general, of course it’s bad.

10. You shall not covet.

Good advice, but this one’s gotta be the most difficult for Americans. We are the most Christian country in the world, but the entire economy and therefore culture is based upon coveting. The industrial consumer economy is predicated upon forging the desire for consumption of products within individuals. It’s weird that people who call themselves Christians would set up an entire nation predicated upon the never-to-be-satiated desire for consumption. This sounds like a you problem. (Even though you don’t exist, but you know, rhetorically speaking).