The Eighth Commandment
Is it stealing or robbing when an ex-spouse take the partner for all he's got, or
when one gender demands rights from the other without feeling obliged to offer anything in return?
"You shall not steal."
It seems that this command is perfectly clear and doesn't permit
misinterpretation, except perhaps for the word "steal." How can anything that someone considers to be rightfully
his possibly be considered stolen if it has been taken from the possession of someone else, even if that someone
didn't willingly want to give it up? Why do so many people think that something has been stolen from them?
In case there should be any doubt in anyone's mind what the word "steal" encompasses, here is the definition from
Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Edition:
steal vb stole; stolen; stealing [ME stelen, fr. OE stelan; akin to OHG stelan
to steal] vi (bef. 12c)
1 : to take the property of another wrongfully and especially as an habitual or regular practice
a : to take or appropriate without right or leave and with intent to keep or use wrongfully (stole a
b : to take away by force or unjust means (they've stolen our
c : to take surreptitiously or without permission (~ a kiss)
d : to appropriate to oneself or beyond one's proper share
syn STEAL, PILFER, FILCH, PURLOIN mean to take from another without right or without detection.
STEAL may apply to any surreptitious taking of something and differs from the other terms by commonly applying to
intangible as well as material things (steal jewels) (stole a look at the gifts). PILFER
implies stealing repeatedly in small amounts (pilfered from his employer). FILCH adds a suggestion of
snatching quickly and surreptitiously (filched an apple from the tray). Purloin stresses removing for
one's own use or purposes (printed a purloined document).
If any of the above is done by application of force, it is called robbing.
That clears it up quite nicely, doesn't it? It sounds very much like what goes on during acrimonious
divorces, where one spouse feeds disproportionately on the other's possessions, where the lawyers often leave little
for the spouses to share, where the courts often apply the full force of the law to deprive the man of so much that he
often decides to kill himself because he thinks that life isn't worth living any longer, and where there is often
nothing left for the children, leaving the latter with far less than their proportionate and rightful share of the
It is curious that the little word "steal" is such an important one and that of all possible actions by man it
received prominent mention in The Ten Commandments. However, God obviously knows what He was doing when he
forbade stealing and made sure that the point was understood by issuing The Tenth Commandment.
A violation of The Tenth Commandment appears to be a prerequisite for a violation of the Eighth Commandment.
Back to The Ten Commandments
The Seventh Commandment The Ninth Commandment
1999 06 11
2001 01 29 (format changes)