|The 10 commandments and maids in Singapore|
Ex 21 “Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.
In this season of Lent, we see that many are perturbed by the Government's intention to give maids a compulsory day off per week following the likes of Hong Kong where they do get a day off and their salaries are higher - perhaps to attract more foreign maids to Singapore. The news of this grace was reported by the Associated Press with the headline "Singapore to require 1 day off a week for maids; rights groups applaud, want more protections".
Ex 20:15 “You shall not steal.
As Christians, although we understood that the Ten Commandments of keeping the Sabbath day holy unto the Lord, perhaps for us, maids like the general construction workers are slaves for us. We earn the right to keep them paying dues to our Ceaser who also gets a fair share of the cut through levies. It is therefore understandable why many are perturbed when this right is compromised by the rest day. We feel stolen and short changed, for the Ten Commandments did say that they should not steal since we paid them their salary and also to the Roman masters.
Before we get into a self righteous indignation against the slave owners, perhaps we should reflect that some maids take care of the elderly and it is a 24x7 duty. For many, they do take care of their maids very well, the tasks not stressful but having time off would be difficult. But as Christians, have we a right to keep slaves, even though we may be benevolent.
There is no right or wrong answer for strictly keeping of the Sabath day is to reflect on God, His goodness, and mercy to Israel, and not a day off per say. But the oppressed party is obvious - the maids and the construction workers who gets a very low salary for the levy does not go to them. There is a choice however to come to Singapore, it is a free market, but for many from the poor surrounding nations, the choice is for basic survival.
There will be additional costs for those needing maids on their off day. But what would Jesus do? Jesus permitted slavery, so too our maids are allowed but we are to treat them as a brother or sister in Christ. As Christ has treated us wonderfully and given us grace and mercy, so we should do likewise to our unbonded slaves. We should pay them much more than the minimum salary and give them time off. Yes, we will suffer and loose out, but God will bless us in return when we abide by the Word of God.
Ex 20: 7 “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
Ex 24 “‘Make an altar of earth for me and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, your sheep and goats and your cattle. Wherever I cause my name to be honored, I will come to you and bless you.
Our oppressive and heavy handed approach to exert the maximum ounce of flesh paid for the maids should also not be confused by Jesus chasing out the business people from the house of God who charged exorbitant prices for the animal sacrifices as required by the Law. The transgression here is cheating the weak and the poor who had no choice in the worship of God through sacrifices. Jesus angst was not against slave owners but against the religious leaders whose heart is to make money out of religion by misusing the name of God rather than puting God first and exalting God by making the Temple as House of Prayer and ministering onto the Lord.
The issue here is a religious compulsion forced upon people to give, yet this giving was abused and manipulated as we seek to maximise and squeeze out the last drop of money from the least who could afford it to fill our very large coffers at the Catholic and mega churches. The churches are not poor - being tax free and using the name of God to "encourage" giving is very lucrative indeed.
When a church in Boston have had to declare bankrupcy due to court claims of a massive abuse of minors, the church had more than 1 billion in assets - just one church in one city. The root here is the worship of money and power which goes back to the temptation of Jesus in the desert. Instead, we should honor and glorify God first. How is the treatment of maids glorying Jesus or it is all about the money, down to the very last cent?
Ex 20: 3 “You shall have no other gods before[a] me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them;
Although money is an idol, there is a real spiritual reality behind this deception. Some Christians deny this spiritual reality and say instead that the modern day idols are not of under the sea, on land or above in the heavens as mentioned in the commandments but are actually ourselves. We have truly made ourselves to be god/idol if our imagnination alone determines the reality of these gods whom we have graven images of.
The spiritual reality of these gods have not dissapeared just because we say so. The idols were cast as animal spirits of the sea and of the land and of the signs of the heavens. However, they don't come into existence just because we make a graven idol image to represent them. They exist and are just as powerful and relevant today. They gain their power through deception.
Lev 18: 21 And you shall not let any of your descendants pass through the fire to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God: I am the Lord.
For example, Baal/Ashteroth are the god of the Harvest. The Jews sacrificed their new born babies to the god so that the deity would prosper them. In modern times, we do likewise, with the many unborn children we put to death because we could not afford them and it would hamper us financially. We even frame it as human rights but what about the right of the unborn child. There are more than 30,000 abortions each year in Singapore.
Ex 20: 13 “You shall not murder.
Ex 23 Do not make any gods to be alongside me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold.
Ex 20 “Whoever sacrifices to any god other than the LORD must be destroyed.
As people of faith, we have failed in our compliance with the ten commandments:-
a. We worship other spiritual deities and gods representing by different images and forms, even exalting Mary in the same manner as the ancient goddess Diana. Even our Pastors become demi-gods and the head of the biggest church on Earth having the power of God Himself in his earthly decrees.
b. We have stolen from our neighbours, taking away what is humanly belonging to them, a rest day, a day off even though we pay them to be our slaves.
c. We love and worship power and money, our idol. The anti-gay movement in the States was set out as the aggenda to make it as a clear wedge issue to gain votes and funds. That was why the claims were flimpsy and could not stand before a court under cross examination. It could not stand up to even the minimum of scrutiny. The S'porean mega churches just copied the anti-gay aggenda from the states but didn't realise that it is a yeast, a lie which corrupts our Gospel message. We gain power and money but loose our soul.
Satan offered Jesus wealth and power, as long as He would bow down to Satan. Wealth and power is not the real idol, or even exalting oneself, for behind it is the deceiver of old. We would have to compromise our integrity, our faith, for ultimately at the core is to worship the God of Israel - to worship Jesus, God incarnate. It is who we are worshipping, who we are glorying and whose Kingdom we are identifying with that matters at the end of our journey of faith.
The mega churches such as City harvest church are trumpeting the 10 commandments as the way to go in reducing "lawlessness". However, it just results in the nation being more self righteous, and being self centered in how good and moral they are in doing good and being moral. It results in legalism and we demanding our rights. It is all about ourselves, we are the idol and we mistreat people badly to the letter of the law instead of showing grace. In the greatest irony, when Jesus came into the scene, the Jews actually used the 10 commandments to kill God Himself.
There is a reason Why do Gays get all the blame for the slippery slope of immorality? because our self righteousness created this angst and animus against gays without logic nor reason because we are the greatest sinners. It is better for gays to bear all our sins and be crucified for it.
We have such a self righteous morality in Singapore that we would consider it our right to overwork our maids even with the little salary we pay them. It is time for a message of the goodness of God, the God of grace and mercy in Christ Jesus to be preached in Singapore rather than the God of the 10 commandments. We can only see God, when we are humble to see our inability to fulfill the commadnments or even come close and to be reflective instead of God's love, grace and mercy in Christ Jesus.