The Ten Commandments go way, way back to the days before paper had been invented, and were carved on tablets of stone by Moses. They made their debut in the book of Exodus and went on to play a starring role in its smash-hit sequel, Deuteronomy. This simple and unambiguous guide on life and how to live it has held a key position in Judeo-Christian culture ever since. But how do today’s spiritual leaders see the Ten Commandments? Are they living up to them? Do they need any changes or clarification?
We asked Prime Minister Boris Johnson and chief Parliamentary God-botherer Jacob Rees-Mogg for their thoughts.
1) I am the Lord thy God: thou shalt not have strange Gods before me
REES-MOGG: This seems perfectly self-explanatory to me. Why would anyone want a god who wasn’t me? This one is a definite keeper.
JOHNSON: Yes, the Big Lad was certainly on form that day. I couldn’t put it any better myself, I am the Lord thy God and anyone who says otherwise deserves to be struck by lightning. Or a big, burly copper with a baton, at the very least.
2) Thou shall not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain
REES-MOGG: Absolutely! There’s nothing quite so annoying as when I hear people use phrases like “Mogging hell!” or “what a Mogg-up!” I am petitioning the Home Secretary to introduce a £10,000 fine for such disrespectful behaviour.
JOHNSON: Oh God! Is that really a thing? I quite like hearing my name, to be honest. Can’t we tweak it just to stop people calling me a big, fat, feckless, alcoholic nincompoop with the morals of an alley cat?
3) Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day
REES-MOGG: I’m all for a spot of rest and have often been known to have a kip in The House. I’m not really sure why this commandment is only applicable to Sundays. I can only imagine that if there had been one for each of the other days, we’d have sixteen commandments and that would be too many for the average peasant to remember.
JOHNSON: Quite. As long as the lights are on and the pubs are staffed, no one should really have to work on a Sunday. Well, obviously chauffeurs, housemaids and the like, but you catch my drift. Proper people shouldn’t have to work on Sundays.
4) Honour thy father and thy mother
REES-MOGG: Pater was a Cabinet Minister, too. Of course, I honour him. Logic would suggest that Mater was a female of some description, so I’m not sure that I get the second bit.
JOHNSON: My father is a loveable old rogue. Just like me, only older. It’s impossible not to like the chap. My mother had an unfortunate tendency to head-butt his fist but I’m sure that she meant well. I’m inclined to agree with Rees-Mogg, though, we could shorten this one a little. We could sell it as some kind of “green initiative”, cut down on the ink used in Bibles and all that. Write that one down, somebody.
5) Thou shalt not kill
REES-MOGG: Well this one simply stands to reason, does it not? But why is it so specific? A chap shouldn’t unblock drains, sweep floors, change lightbulbs or anything else that he can hire a tradesman to do. I can only imagine that there wasn’t sufficient room on the stone tablets to list everything.
JOHNSON: Killing people is usually a step too far. It’s one thing to have journalists roughed-up a bit, but if one were to actually kill them, there’d be an awful lot of paperwork. On balance, I think God was right on this one.
6) Thou shalt not commit adultery
REES-MOGG: I think I can honestly say that I’ve never received an invitation.
JOHNSON: Excuse me a moment, that refrigerator looks rather interesting, I must go and see the inside of it.
7) Thou shalt not steal
REES-MOGG: Absolutely! Render unto Rees-Mogg what is Rees-Mogg’s. That is everything, by the way. I feel that this Commandment provides a clear and adequate instruction to others.
JOHNSON: There is something profoundly non-U about stealing. It should never be confused with the gentlemanly arts of misappropriation and embezzlement. And I do rather wish that Patel would stop taking my lunch money.
8) Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour
REES-MOGG: Things certainly come to a pretty pass when Corbynista curtain-twitchers snitch on the PM for simply flinging a few bottles at his floozy. I’m all for this one!
JOHNSON: Well, my neighbour, Rishi, is a jolly fine chap, so, no, I could never bear false witness against him. Unless he was preparing some sort of leadership challenge, of course, but I’m sure that’s covered somewhere in the small print. I may need to check on that and get back to you. You don’t think that he is planning some sort of a leadership challenge, do you? He has been a little quiet of late …
9) Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife
REES-MOGG: I think that one wife is more than adequate for anyone.
JOHNSON: No problems on the front. There’s nothing wrong with Rishi’s missus but she doesn’t quite meet my dumb-blonde ideal. so I’ll stick to chasing other totty.
10) Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s goods
REES-MOGG: I think we already established that everything already belongs to me, did we not? How could I possibly covet what is already mine? I think Moses might have carved this one down incorrectly. That said, of course, lesser people shouldn’t covet what is mine. Perhaps, that’s what he meant.
JOHNSON: I wouldn’t say that I covet Rishi’s goods per se, but I wouldn’t find a crack at his wife’s billions. I don’t think that really counts, does it? What with her being a woman and everything. I mean, it’s Sunak that’s my actual neighbour and she’s my neighbour’s wife, who I don’t fancy because of her non-blondness. I think we’re all good on that front.
And if you could add an eleventh commandment?
REES-MOGG: Thou shalt not ask thy Lord, Rees-Mogg, any difficult questions.
JOHNSON: It would nice to have one to stop Hancock claiming to have created the world when he knows full well that I did, but “judge not, lest ye be judged” and all that, eh? Maybe we should just have one saying that a chap shalt not be expected to buy his own drinks.
And so, it’s good to see that The Ten Commandments are relatively intact after all these millennia, even if their interpretation has become a little more flexible than God probably intended. Join us next Sunday when we’ll be talking to some deranged suburban housewife who will tell us all how much she loves Jesus and how much she hates everybody else.