“It begins with a condescending tone, a “beware of covetousness” message that seems more appropriate as the moral in an Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Story: “Little Billy ate too much candy and due to his sick tummy he learned not to covet. (…) But the biggest moral claim made by the lesson is that coveting is the “ultimate original sin.” The sinners are not Adam and Eve but Lucifer, coveting the homage paid to God. A few verses from Isaiah and a paragraph from Ellen White support this idea in the [study guide. However, there are plenty of other Ellen White quotes that [predicate pride as the first cause of Lucifer’s fall.”
What condescending tone, Sir, when Psy 101 itself tells us, as Shakespeare, Proust or René Girard famously reminded us, that indeed the Decalogue is right to “devote its ultimate command to prohibit our desire for our neighbor’s assets, because it lucidly recognizes in this desire the cause of the violence prohibited in the four commandments which precede it”.
“Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour’s wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbour’s house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbour’s.”
Deuteronomy 5: 21
That thou hast her it is not all my grief,
And yet it may be said I loved her dearly;
That she hath thee is of my wailing chief,
A loss in love that touches me more nearly.
Loving offenders, thus I will excuse ye:
Thou dost love her because thou knowst I love her;
And for my sake even so doth she abuse me,
Suff’ring my friend for my sake to approve her.
If I lose thee, my loss is my love’s gain,
And losing her, my friend hath found that loss;
Both find each other, and I lose both twain,
And both for my sake lay on me this cross.
But here’s the joy; my friend and I are one;
Sweet flatt’ry! Then she loves but me alone.
Shakespeare (Sonnet 42)
“If we were better at analysing our love affairs, we might find that often we love the women we do only because of the counterweight of the men against whom we have to compete to win them; remove the counterweight and the woman’s charm will collapse. We have an example of this (…) in the man who, conscious of a decline in his affection for the woman whom he loves, spontaneously applies the rules that he has deduced and, to make sure of his not ceasing to love the woman, places her in a dangerous environment from which he is obliged to protect her daily.”
“If the Decalogue devotes its ultimate command to prohibit our desire for our neighbor’s assets, it is because it lucidly recognizes in this desire the cause of the violence prohibited in the four commandments which precede it. Were we to stop desiring our neighbor’s property, we would never be guilty of murder or adultery, theft or perjury. If the tenth commandment was fulfilled, it would make unnecessary the four commandments which precede it. Instead of starting with the cause and going on with the consequences, as would a philosophical treatise, the Decalogue follows the reverse order. Attending to the most urgent priority first: to avoid violence, it prohibits violent actions. Then it returns to the cause and uncovers the desire inspired by our neighbor.”