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Deuteronomy Calls

Crank Call


Published April 7, 2004 at 4:00 p.m.

Great balls of fire, they've done it again! Every year around this time -- for some reason, it's always on a Sunday -- I wake up in the morning to find it's an hour later than I thought. One hour exactly, no more, no less.

Something similar happens in October, when I wake an hour early on what the Lord has infallibly and irrefutably marked off as a day of rest. The Fourth Command-ment is explicit on this point: "And on the seventh day God finished His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all His work which He had done in creation." (Genesis 2:1-3 RSV)

In other words, God needed sleep. And so do we. What profiteth a man to be told in the fall that he's regained an hour he lost in the spring? When you're sleeping, nothing gets done. That's the whole point of it. That's the Word of God. And whoever's been fiddling with the clocks all these years had better quit it, pronto.

Sometimes, you need to "interpret" the Bible, or "read between the lines," in order to know what it means. For example, when God says, "Thou shalt not kill," He makes an exception for wars. Thou shalt kill all you want to in a war and No One On High has a problem with that -- unless, of course, your enemies think like you do, in which case thou shalt "pacify" them with "overwhelming force."

As with killing, so with stealing, the Eighth Commandment. When God says, "Thou shalt not steal," he's not talking about CEOs, televangelists, the health-care industry or insider trading -- unless you're Martha Stewart, in which case thou shalt go to jail.

Verily, if you're Martha Stewart, thou shalt go directly to jail and not collect $200, while Kenneth Lay, the big cheese at Enron, shall get off scot-free. And Juror No. 4, the lone holdout in the Tyco trial, shall say that Dennis Kozlowski is a "railroaded victim of ethnic scapegoating." Why shouldn't Kozlowski spend $2 million on a birthday party for his wife? Why should a Pole not have the right to $6000 shower curtains?

You can tell the Lord doesn't mind a little stealing, really, because He puts it way, way down on the list of things thou shalt not do, after worshipping idols, taking His name in vain, dishonoring parents, committing adultery and so forth. All these things are more important than not stealing, which is just slightly more important than not lying and coveting thy neighbor's wife. Just between us, if you have to skip a couple of Commandments, these are the ones, since you're short on sleep to start with.

Moving along, the Lord has nothing to say about "gay marriage." Neither do I, since I regard it as the silliest issue ever to rend the Temple veil, so to speak. Never mind: God has lots to say about marriage itself, and most of it isn't good. Better you shouldn't marry at all (Matt 19:10, I Cor 7:1, 7:27-28, 7:32-34, 7:38), although marriage isn't a sin, according to Vaughn Roste, a former Lutheran, Episcopalian and Presbyterian who now works and worships in the United Church of Christ.

"I picked up my Bible and looked up all the passages that have anything to do with marriage," Roste writes in Biblical Marriage: A Bad Source for Debate, currently online at With a concordance, Roste checked every Word he could think of on this subject -- "marriage, marriages, marry, marries, married, wedding, weddings, wed, husband, husbands, wife, and wives" -- and discovered, among other things:

1) "Nothing prevents a man from taking on concubines in addition to the wife or wives he may already have" (Gen 25:6, Judges 8:31, 2 Sam 5:13, 1 Kings 11:3, 1 Chron 3:9, 2 Chron 11:21, Dan 5:2-3);

2) "If a woman cannot be proven to be a virgin at the time of marriage, she shall be stoned" (Deut 22:13-21);

3) "A rapist must marry his victim (Ex 22:16, Deut 22:28-29) unless she was already his fiance, in which case he should be put to death if he raped her in the country, but both of them killed if he raped her in town (Deut 22:23-27);

4) "Women are the property of their fathers until married and their husbands after that" (Ex 20:17, 22:17, Deut 22:24, Mat 22:25);

5) "The value of a woman might be approximately seven years' work" (Gen 29:14-30).

Incidentally, the sin of Sodom (Gen 19:1-38) wasn't "homosexuality," as many believe, but the failure of every Sodomite except Lot to offer hospitality to a couple of strangers who turned out to be angels, and whom all the other Sodomites wanted to rape, even though the angels were male, or anyway sexless, which is what you should be, too. Lot even offered them his daughters as a booby prize, but the Sodomites wouldn't take no for an answer. That's why the Lord rained fire and brimstone, or "global warming," on Sodom and Gomorrah.

And that's why George W. Bush is going to Hell, and why his wholly owned chattel, Laura Bush, will be turned to a pillar of salt if she doesn't read between the lines and pop him one. Because, starting in October, every foreign visitor to the United States shall be fingerprinted on arrival. And that's not -- no, it's not -- a Christian thing to do.

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