I dunno; looks like a graven image to me....
Roy Moore loves the Ten Commandments; and it has been noted more than once, even by your humble host, that it's curious he's not more enamored of the Beatitudes. But since he seems to be more interested in the Hebrew Scriptures (Moore would call them the "Old Testament"), it's odd he's not more interested in Deuteronomy, somewhere just past the "Ten Commandments" passage:
These shall stand upon mount Gerizim to bless the people, when ye are come over Jordan; Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Joseph, and Benjamin:
13 And these shall stand upon mount Ebal to curse; Reuben, Gad, and Asher, and Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali.
14 And the Levites shall speak, and say unto all the men of Israel with a loud voice,
15 Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and putteth it in a secret place. And all the people shall answer and say, Amen.
16 Cursed be he that setteth light by his father or his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen.
17 Cursed be he that removeth his neighbour’s landmark. And all the people shall say, Amen.
18 Cursed be he that maketh the blind to wander out of the way. And all the people shall say, Amen.
19 Cursed be he that perverteth the judgment of the stranger, fatherless, and widow. And all the people shall say, Amen.
20 Cursed be he that lieth with his father’s wife; because he uncovereth his father’s skirt. And all the people shall say, Amen.
21 Cursed be he that lieth with any manner of beast. And all the people shall say, Amen.
22 Cursed be he that lieth with his sister, the daughter of his father, or the daughter of his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen.
23 Cursed be he that lieth with his mother in law. And all the people shall say, Amen.
24 Cursed be he that smiteth his neighbour secretly. And all the people shall say, Amen.
25 Cursed be he that taketh reward to slay an innocent person. And all the people shall say, Amen.
26 Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen
There are some curses there he could surely get behind, like the curse against bestiality, or lying with your father's wife (not the Oedipal crime, mind you, in a society where a man might have many wives). Note that "crime" is against the father, not the wife; but there is a protection against lying with your own sister (incest) or what we today would call half-brothers or sisters (or even step-brothers, as the law provided for widows to become the wives of brothers of the deceased husband). It's verses 18 and 19 I'm particularly interested in, though, because those are the concerns least likely to be raised by someone like Roy Moore. This is the KJV; since I don't read Hebrew, I looked at the Revised English Bible for a bit more clarity:
'A curse on anyone who misdirects a blind man'; the people must all say, 'Amen.'
'A curse on anyone who withholds justice from the alien, the fatherless, and the widow,': and the people must all say, 'Amen.'
Now put that up against, say, Luke's version of the Beatitudes (Luke's gospel includes the curses that Matthew leaves out):
Congratulations, you poor!
God's domain belongs to you!
Congratulations, you hungry!
You will have a feast.
Congratulations, you who weep now!
You will laugh.
I've addressed the issue of this translation of the Greek makarios here
, if you're interested.
The curses in Deuteronomy are part of a ritual, and are concerned with matters other than just what we would call "social justice." They are directed to a congregation, a gathering, a synagogue, an ekklesia
. They are first directives, and then the blessing for following those directives. The ritual ends where Luke's Beatitudes begin:
1 And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:
2 And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God.
3 Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field.
4 Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.
5 Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store.
6 Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.
Jesus is talking to a different crowd than those addressed by the Deuteronomists (scholars consider the writers a school, not an individual). But that's another story.
For our purposes, the comparison between these scriptures is enough, and it points away from the Ten Commandments as the touchstone and bulwark upon which a fortress is built against evil and error. In fact, that kind of attitude is one the prophets would denounce as evil and error, because they would identify it as idolatry. Simply following the words of the law is not the same thing as "hearken[ing] unto the voice of the LORD thy God." Not unless you think God stopped speaking shortly after those ten rules were written down. Certainly the Deuteronomist didn't think so. It's easy to make an idol of those 10 rules, much harder to make an idol out of the Beatitudes in Luke, especially since they continue with these words:
Damn you rich!
You already have your consolation!
Damn you who are well-fed now!
You will know hunger.
Damn you who laugh now!
You will learn to weep and grieve.
Those words attack what we usually think of as the sources of idolatry, but they don't attack wealth and full larders and happiness; in fact, they don't really attack at all. They point out it won't always be this way: food runs out, money runs away, all the laughter dies in sorrow; and that is of a piece with the congratulations to the poor, the hungry, the weeping: this, too, shall pass. There is a time to every purpose under heaven, but expecting one condition to be permanent and static, wealth or poverty, happiness or sorrow, hunger or satiation, is vanity and striving after emptiness. The Ten Commandments, used as they usually are as the summation of the law and the basis for ordering society and morality, are abused in a manner it is hard to do with the Beatitudes. Luke's version, especially, are in keeping with the Magnificat of Mary: the powerful will be toppled, the powerless raised up. But that's more a vision of Isaiah's highway for God, also prefigured in Luke's story of John the Baptist (the most complete story in the four gospels): mountains lowered, valleys raised, so the path of the Lord is straight and visible to all. In Luke's gospel that vision becomes the foundation for social justice, where the first of all is last and servant of all, and the race is to the bottom, to be the servant of all, not to the top; because when you're number one, the only way to go is down. You have had your compensation, you will know hunger, you will learn to weep and grieve.
If Roy Moore had heeded those lessons, rather than wrapped his arms around stone tablets he conceived to be all he needed of the Law (of Moses, and the law itself), he might have learned humility and have lived a much more valuable life, life into the ages. He might have made human beings of others, and a human being of himself. As it stands now, having made an idol of the Law, he has also made an idol of himself.
I'm not sure that's going to be much consolation.