People think that the Ten Commandments are high level morality given by God to a chosen people. They believe that even today only people who have a special relationship with God bother with the Ten Commandments.
It’s not true. Members of criminal gangs obey the Ten Commandments too. They don’t call them that but they know them and know why it is important to obey them. Criminals are even more likely to obey the Ten Commandments than non-criminals. That’s because in a criminal gang, breaking the rules comes with the penalty of death.
Desert tribes and criminal gangs have a lot in common. They live in a very harsh world. Survival depends on size of the gang and on the willingness of each member to support another. Gangs must stay together to be powerful. Anything that breaks up the gang is bad for every member.
There are really only two commandments. Thou shalt not prey on members of the gang. Treating members of the gang like prey causes the the gang to break apart and weaken. That exposes the whole gang to danger and thus death.
The second commandment is that the penalty for being a predator inside the gang is death. Everyone in a weak gang is vulnerable to being conquered and killed by a rival gang. That is why severe punishment is meted out to those who make the gang weaker.
The Ten Commandments given to the desert tribe that became the Jews are an expansion on those two.
Rule: Thou shalt have no other Gods before me. Purpose: No divided loyalties Gang Version: Your first loyalty will be to the gang.
When the ten commandments were written every tribe had a god and that god was the symbol of the tribe. When it was written the idea that there was only one God was not extant. The rule of the tribe was that a tribe member was not allowed to have a loyalty that was greater than the loyalty to the tribe.
Criminal Gangs make the same rule. A member can have other loyalties. They can join clubs and have families but loyalty is to the gang first. Some criminal gangs are so strict on this ‘no divided loyalties’ rule that they don’t allow members to have families.
Rule: No images. Purpose: No divided loyalties. Gang version: No patches or jackets or tattoos or scarves or any other thing that may may show loyalty to another gang allowed.
In that day Gods were usually represented as animals or combination of animals. People have been known to lie. Someone might claim that their first loyalty is to the God of the tribe and then claim that the statue of cow or an eagle in their house is just a statue. Some countries have laws that make it a crime to even possess the passport from another country. It doesn’t matter if the passport is in your drawer and you never use it. The assumption is that if you have it you are prepared to use it. That means divided loyalties. In a criminal gang the rule would be against having patches from a rival gang or against having tattoos that show loyalty to another gang.
Rule: Don't use the name of the tribal god in vain. Purpose: Respect. Gang Version: Show respect to the gang leader, the gang colors, the gang name, the gang history and everything that is about the gang.
The name of the tribal god should never be used disrespectfully. It shows a lack of loyalty. Criminals know and obey this commandment. Criminals love to show disrespect. They especially like to disrespect God. They know better than to disrespect the gang or the head of the gang though. It will get them killed. Evil people know this rule maybe best of all. They know that just because people say they respect you and show respect doesn’t mean they are loyal. If they don’t show respect it means they are disloyal though. Best to kill them before they get a chance to betray you.
Rule: Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it Holy Purpose: Respect, Gratitude and community. Gang Version: Give to the gang a portion of you time. Use that time to only do gang business. This is in addition to the time you spend doing gang business from which you derive your living.
God led tribes are different from human led tribes in this way. The duty of gratitude is much higher towards a god. No gang or tribe or country can compete with a god when it comes to what it has provided to its members. For this reason God led tribes usually ask more in the way of signs of gratitude. The Jewish tribe owed their God a lot. In that day the way that you paid back a god was to take something of value and destroy it. Taking a day off was a way of destroying valuable time for their God. It was gratitude. It was also respect. It showed faith that their god would provide. In the same way a gang member should have faith that their gang will provide.
Rule: “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. Purpose: Respect, Gratitude. Gang Version: Honor those who taught you how to survive in this harsh world.
Criminal Gangs are often thin on gratitude. Gratitude is a form of humility. It is important for the long term health of the gang that members show gratitude to those who came before. It is also a form of respect. Knowledge needs to be passed down to each generation. The person who imparts that information deserves some honor.
Rule: “You shall not murder." Purpose: to keep the gang together Gang Version: You shall not murder gang members
This rule applies to people in the gang. People outside the gang are fair game.
Rule: “You shall not commit adultery." Purpose: To keep the tribe together. Gang Version: Don't mess with another gang member's girl.
In a tribe children are important. The best way to makes sure that the children are properly cared for and trained is to give tribal men possession of the children. People care more for things they own than things they don’t. To make sure children belong to the man adultery is absolutely forbidden. As usual this rule only applies inside the tribe.
Criminal gangs have this rule too but they enforce it differently. Since gangs often recruit members rather than grow therm from infancy. The prohibition is less against adultery than it is against messing with another gang member’s girl. A fast way to destroy a tribe is for gang members to go after each others women.
Rule: “You shall not steal. Purpose: To keep the gang together. Gang Version: "you shall not steal from gang members".
The purpose of being in a gang is for safety.If people are allowed to prey on other gang members the gang fractures.
Rule: You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. Purpose: To keep people from killing and stealing by lying. Gang Version: The same.
The purpose of being in a gang is for safety. If you or your stuff is not safe you will leave. The prohibition against false witness is important. A person who is weaker than you and who could never beat you in a fair fight could lie about you. That lie would bring the full weight of tribal justice down on your head.
Rule: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Purpose: "To keep people from thinking that someone stole their stuff" Gang Version: Don't look covetously at anything that belongs to someone else in the gang unless they are selling it and are displaying it in a way that is meant for your to look at it covetously.
To a modern reader, do not covet comes across as ‘don’t think bad thoughts’. The rule was to not look covetously. If you look covetous at your neighbor’s wife he is going to suspect adultery. If you look covetously at your neighbors stuff and some of it goes missing he is going to think you stole it.
The Ten Commandments can be summed up by thou shalt not be a predator towards the gang. Neither towards the gang as a unit, which the desert tribes represented as the god of the tribe, nor towards individual members. Just as other societies do not obey the Ten Commandments not all members of a criminal gang obey the Ten Commandments of gang life either. The extent to which they do determines the strength and prosperity of the gang.