Why you don't have to take the bible literally - according to a priest

The ten commandments aren’t necessarily literal, says Rev Kate Bottley (Picture: Getty)

Religious or not, most people know at least a little bit about the ten commandments.

Okay, maybe not all of them, but a fair few – thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not commit adultery, the one about coveting someone else’s stuff.

The ten commandments have been around for thousands of years and are still the must-dos for many Christians, though it seems there’s a bit of a divide when it comes to how much they still apply in the 21st Century compared to when they were written.

A 2017 YouGov poll revealed that just six of the original ten commandments are still seen by most British people as important principles to live by – even among British Christians.

Not committing murder, not stealing, not bearing false witness, not committing adultery, honouring your father and mother and not coveting other people’s possessions were all seen as still important.

But when it comes to the instructions not to worship idols, not to use the Lord’s name in vain, not to worship any other god and keeping the Sabbath holy, people were less convinced that they are still relevant.

That’s not necessarily a big deal, says Rev Kate Bottley – Christian priest and Gogglebox star – because the bible wasn’t meant to be taken literally.

Speaking on the latest episode of Yahoo UK’s podcast Britain Is a Nation Of…, which focuses on religion, she says it’s no surprise some of the ten commandments don’t apply word for word in a modern context.

Listen to a discussion of these statistics on Yahoo and YouGov’s podcast, Britain is a Nation of…

Kate Bottley is speaking on Yahoo UK’s podcast Britain Is a Nation Of… (Picture: Getty)

“These are ancient documents, they were never meant to be read in a literal way,” she told the podcast.

“Of course they were meant to be taken seriously,” she added.

“What I believe is that these words are a living document, and if they’re a living document then they’re not static…. they grow and develop and it’s our job as minister of faith to try and see how they might apply to people’s lives today.”

She compared the commandments to a framework to live by rather than a literal set of instructions.

Using the ‘keep the sabbath holy’ commandment as an example, she said: “If you said to people, ‘do you think it’s really important to take time off and be with your family occasionally and the people you love?’, 99% of people are going to say, ‘I think it’s a really good idea to have some time away from work’.

“That’s the spirit of the rule. The spirit of the ‘keep the sabbath day holy’ is to say, ‘it ain’t good to work all the time, you need to take time off with people you love’. That’s the spirit of the law.”

This survey was made possible by YouGov’s panel of 6 million respondents. Join the trend and share your opinions with the world today.