- You shall have no other gods before Me.
What do you think? God vs. mammon—devotion to the holy Creator vs. enslavement to wealth. Which do you think looms larger in Mr. Trump’s life? On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being total devotion to God and rejection of mammon, and 1 being the reverse of that, what do you give him? Caution: We people of faith are always tempted to think, hey, God is all about forgiveness. So, even if it seems clear on the basis of what I see in Mr. Trump that I should give him a 1 or a 0, maybe a forgiving person like me should offer up a merciful 10 and hope that he changes. But try not to do that just yet. See, the problem is that if you do, you’re really scoring yourself and not Mr. Trump, which sort of messes up the process. So let’s just be truthful about Mr. Trump for now and then take up matters of mercy later. So, what do you give him on the total-devotion-to-God vs. pretty-deep-into-mammon? 10=all for God. 1=all for wealth. (5=beautiful balance of the two.)
- You shall not make for yourself a carved image
Remember that golden calf that got Moses all pushed out of shape? Gold. Golden images. That’s the big-time competition for God. And it is pretty hard to deny that Mr. Trump does seem much consumed by a passion for seeing his own name in large golden letters just about everywhere. The opposite of being obsessed with golden images of wealth and self would be a humble and quiet devotion to the spiritual. None of us has observed him in his bedchamber at night before or after a Twitter storm, but it’s possible he’s on his knees in deep prayer. As in so many situations in life, you’ll just have to go with your gut. Give him a 10 for totally spiritual, or downward toward a 1 to rate him pretty much devoted to all that gold stuff.
- You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain
Quick theological review here: this Commandment has never had anything to do with swearing. God is not rattled by somebody blurting “Goddamn it!” when they slam their finger in the door. What this commandment forbids is pretending to be devoted to God when you really aren’t. You know, taking the label of Jew or Christian or Muslim and, well, just talking the talk of a God-fearing person to get applause from religious folks, but then going ahead living a personal life that contradicts pretty much everything that God calls for. Give him a 10 for being a real honest-to-God God-follower, and somewhere south of that for just hijacking the God-label to burnish his brand.
- Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Well, “Sabbath” sort of covers both days of the weekend and even Friday, depending on your version of religious practice. But let’s not quibble. Holy is holy, and so the question is whether one devotes a day a week to what is holy. Now, it is true that some golfers regard their sport as holy, but we won’t play that game. In truth, it’s hard to be even-handed here. We probably shouldn’t even rate Mr. Trump on this one, because he spends his weekends either at one of his golf clubs (playing 120 rounds or more just since taking office) or at his palace in Florida where holiness may be in short supply. Fact is, he may not have time for holy. Justice Kavanaugh put it clearly: he says no President can be indicted, subpoenaed, or even investigated because they’re much too busy being President—presumably even while Mr. Trump is spending about a quarter of his time on a golf course. So how could he possibly have time for holiness. Let’s just give this one a “not applicable” (N/A).
- Honor your father and your mother
Now we’re cooking! If honoring your father means to use him as a model for your own life, then Mr. Trump should score brilliantly on this one. According to careful investigation and reporting, his father became mega-rich by employing myriad schemes to evade taxes, camouflage smarmy dealings, and take financial advantage of underlings. Mr. Trump learned these schemes extremely well and has employed them without fail during his entire adult life. Some may quibble with their father/son partnership in practicing racial discrimination at their rental properties, but a reasonable person would give big credit to the son’s honoring the father’s lessons in this matter, not bad-mouth the immorality of them. And the fact that his mother once lamented, “What kind of a son have I created?” should not diminish his score here, because she and Mr. Trump didn’t like each other very much—probably her fault—and, besides, women didn’t matter all that much back in those days. Let’s just give him a flat-out 10 on this Commandment and move along.
- You shall not murder.
They say that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. Maybe the same should be true of murder. We could get into a pointy-headed debate about deaths that occur through various acts and policies, both of omission and commission, but here we have a fellow who declared that he could shoot someone dead on Fifth Avenue and not lose a vote. That is what counts. It’s about winning. Bleeding hearts should quit expecting him to care about the physical wellbeing of people, whether all those losers with pre-existing medical conditions or military personnel fending off homeless refugees at the border. But since you, the reader, are the beholder in this instance, go ahead and score him: 10 if you think he is blameless for any deaths of any kind at all, and something lower if maybe you hold him accountable in some way for some loss life or other.
- You shall not commit adultery.
Who the hell put that one in there, anyhow? Fake Commandment!
- You shall not steal.
Just because several thousand people have sued Mr. Trump for cheating them out of money, that’s not really “stealing” which is more, you know, like robbing a bank or purse-snatching. Pay attention: the Commandment does not say “You shall not cheat”. And you can’t count as theft the ruined reputations and indictments of those who have chosen to work in his administration. They’re grownups who knew what they were getting into, just like the vendors whom he stiffed. And so what if he inherited the lion’s share of his father’s estate. Remember how he honored his father. And his siblings never squawked about being snookered; they seemed almost mesmerized by his cleverness. So give him a 10 if you think he isn’t a thief, or less if you think that maybe in some ways he has kind of gotten his hands on some things that didn’t really properly belong to him.
- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Trouble here. Apologies about this, but. Oh, dear. Mr. Trump has…allegedly, let’s say…spoken falsely in excess of 5,000 times since becoming President, according to those who fact-check and count these things. That’s about ten times a day. Hold on, though. We do not know just how many of those 5,000 falsehoods were against his neighbor, do we. Could have been against somebody far distant. Or even something that looked to all the world like a bald-faced lie that Mr. Trump declared was actually sort of an “alternate fact”. And when a fellow is certifiably afflicted with something the DSM-5 (official catalog of psychiatric disturbances) calls a “personality disorder”, that means he probably doesn’t even comprehend the concepts of truth and falsehood, and certainly doesn’t understand the difference between them. He knows winning and losing. That’s enough. So, given his disability, it’s probably okay now to let that forgiveness and mercy kick in and cut him a break on this score. Let’s agree that scoring him a 10 means that, say, he has never actually perjured himself in a courtroom by asserting that he witnessed something that he didn’t. That would have been a good strict-constructionist example of “false witness”. All the rest of the false things that he says ten times a day—the outright lies—don’t count because they’re clearly not “false witness”.
- You shall not covet anything that is your neighbor’s.
This one is really tough. It is so hard to know what Mr. Trump may or may not covet that belongs to a neighbor. Coveting goes on inside the head. On the one hand, he seems to be pretty well equipped with every extravagance known to humankind, so what’s left to covet? On the other hand, he does seem to be pretty impulsive in his sudden passion for whatever catches his fancy, and given that DSM-5 rating, it could be hard to rule out his coveting a neighbor’s anything. Too ambiguous. To be on the side of mercy, let’s go with another N/A here and be done with it.
Just one more thing: these troublesome Ten Commandments were part of those very old Old Testament scriptures, and many of you are Christians who got an updated version of what God has in mind, as taught by Jesus of Nazareth, better known to his many fans as “Christ”. He had a take on things that might be much more copacetic with Mr. Trump’s take on things. For a refresher course in Jesus’ modernization of those dusty Commandments, check out this very instructive three-minute update: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZ2L-R8NgrA
Have a blessed day.