As one who takes the Ten Commandments very seriously, I would never covet my neighbor’s wife. Not in a million years. God wouldn’t have dictated them to Moses on Mt. Sinai a long, long time ago if they were intended merely as suggestions for living a wholesome life. That’s why they’re not called the Ten Tips.
All in all, I have a good Ten Commandments track record. I haven’t killed anyone. Nor have I carved and worshipped false idols. To my knowledge, that is. I destroyed quite a few brain cells over the years and cannot be completely sure, but it doesn’t sound like me. On the flip side, I stole a pocket knife at a gift shop and have not kept the Sabbath all that holy after graduating from high school. I’d give myself a B or B-minus on adhering to the Ten Commandments.
This is all offered as background to a moral dilemma I was presented with earlier today. My neighbors were having a party and as the guests arrived, an overtly feminine blonde with long hair and a shape-fitting red dress caught my eye. See where I’m going with this?
Even though I have absolutely no interest in extramarital fondling, I must say that I coveted her for a fleeting moment. My wife and I realize that certain members of the opposite sex are appealing and “it’s okay to look,” as she once said. (I’m pretty sure that’s an exact quote.) So, on that front, I’m covered. And I would have thought nothing about morals had she not been my neighbor’s friend.
Since God had to confine the Ten Commandments to two stone slabs (from artists’ renderings that I’ve seen), He didn’t have room for a deep dive into each Commandment. Had Moses been proficient in PowerPoint, I’m sure we’d have an exhaustive list of right and wrong. But he wasn’t, so we don’t. I’m convinced God wanted us to use the giant tablets as a jumping off point. For example, “neighbor” back then could mean anyone within a day’s walk. Today, “neighbor’s wife” might be any friend or acquaintance of the wife, such as a college roommate or yoga instructor.
FYI, the coveting came and went in a flash. Once the covetee was out of sight, I went back to writing my memoirs and didn’t give her a second thought. But the question remains: Did I sin in the eyes of Yahweh? Tomorrow, am I going to pretend that I never took the name of the Lord in vain? Christ, I wouldn’t last five minutes on the celestial witness stand! And what have I ever done to honor my father and mother? They produced seven children, while I only managed two.
Sometimes I think Satan has me in his crosshairs, waiting patiently to trap me so there will be one more evil person in the world and one less good person. That’s a net gain of two for the Dark Prince, by the way. He may have heinous intentions, but he’s certainly not stupid. To prevent evil from claiming more souls, I have to do a better job obeying the Ten Commandments. That much is clear.
I encourage you to follow in my footsteps. So, don’t kill anyone. Go to church. Stop committing adultery. Be nice to mom and dad. And, just to be on the safe side, don’t covet anything.
Joe Fumo is a Milwaukee-area business writing consultant who has published two humorous fiction collections: “God’s Web Site” and “Things To Do This Week” (purchasable on Amazon.com) He has been a newspaper reporter, corporate newsletter editor and public relations account representative. Thus, the need to write silly pieces.