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Theological Questions > Thou Shalt Not Kill

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

I am writing a blog on the Ten Commandments and would like a deeper understanding of the commandments, that is perspectives from other Christians.
Thou shalt not kill is pretty broad. Are there exceptions or softer versions to the commandments? For example:
Abortion is wrong. I know that. But what about if the pregnancy could kill either the mother or the baby? Is it acceptable or not to terminate the pregnancy?
What about when a person is defending their personal being or their home or their family? Is it acceptable to kill the person who is threatening a life?
And then, what about when a person chooses DNR (do not resuscitate) for someone who is terminally ill or when someone is in a coma with no chance of being revived. Is it acceptable to let the person go?


message 2: by Ned (new)

Ned | 206 comments Dennis Prager has a good commentary on this in his book on Exodus, and it may be available elsewhere. His is a Jewish perspective, but still valuable. The first thing I will note is that the command should be interpreted as "thou shalt not murder." There is such a thing as just killing, as in the cases of capital punishment and self defense.

But what about if the pregnancy could kill either the mother or the baby? Is it acceptable or not to terminate the pregnancy?

No, it is not acceptable. God determines who does and does not get pregnant. God in His sovereignty determines who lives and dies, absent human intervention. Moreover, it is the duty of the mother to protect the life of her child, even at her own peril. That's what mothers do. To illustrate; what if a mother and daughter were in the path of an oncoming truck and the mother had a choice of jumping out of the way herself or pushing her child to safety? What if only mother or child could be saved from the sinking Titanic? Would it be acceptable for the mother to rush to take the sole spot in the lifeboat, leaving her child behind?

What about when a person is defending their personal being or their home or their family? Is it acceptable to kill the person who is threatening a life?

Yes it is. Self defense, and defense of one's family, in the face of an evildoer is natural and expected.

In both testaments we see example of believers taking steps to defend themselves, even arming themselves, in the face of potential danger. In Exodus 22:2-3 we see God speak to the acceptability of defending one’s home against a thief. In Nehemiah 4:16-18 when the city was being rebuilt the men divided the labor in such a way that some took up spears, shields, and bows while others worked. Those who carried the loads or built the wall did so with their weapon readily available. Jesus himself instructed his disciples to sell their cloak and buy swords (Lk. 27:36). Furthermore, Jesus regularly used word pictures and stories about self-defense in order to make a broader spiritual point (Lk. 11:21; Mt. 12:29). The biblical narratives seem to assume the right of sober self-defense.


And then, what about when a person chooses DNR (do not resuscitate) for someone who is terminally ill or when someone is in a coma with no chance of being revived. Is it acceptable to let the person go?

This is a much more difficult question and each situation is different and must be examined on its own merit. Blanket answers won't do. It is difficult to say whether there is "no chance" of revival. Doctors are wrong all the time. A distinction must also be made between reasonable and heroic life saving efforts. When, and for how long, are artificial means of life support acceptable? When is it a sin to refuse to treat someone? The questions surrounding end of life care are incredibly complex. Wesley J. Smith is an expert in this area and has written several books on the subject. You should look him up and read everything he writes, much of which is available online. I will just say that, in general, the decision should err on the side of protecting life. The sanctity of life is just that important. That is, within reason, fully recognizing that "reasonable" is highly subjective and is itself inadequate as a standard, as that is typically the very question up for debate. The Christian perspective of human beings as the imago dei (image of God) is the only adequate foundation underlying all human rights.


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Thank you so much for your comments Ned. I will look these authors up and read their books. Today's society and churches have twisted the true meaning of the Bible to justify their wants. It is disheartening to watch how some Christians behave.


message 5: by Robert (new)

Robert Dallmann (robert_dallmann) | 1598 comments Exo 20:13 - "Thou shalt not kill ."

KILL defined:

Strong's H7523 - ratsach - "רָצַח râtsach, raw-tsakh'; a primitive root; properly, to dash in pieces , i.e. kill (a human being), especially to murder :"

A good starting point is the definition of the actual word God chose in writing the Bible.


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