*Disclaimer: The title is a little misleading. Also, this Blog Post is for Christians and falls within the apologetics of Old when Christians would argue with each other in order to reach a coherent faith.
I hope by the end of this post you feel one of these three emotions:
- Anger, because you can’t reconcile your position with the Christian doctrine and therefore are mad that I pointed out the fact that you aren’t really a Christian
- Guilt, because you realize that you are wrong and you wish to rethink your past held beliefs
- Empowerment, because you agree with me and feel the same fire that I do right now
(Ok, so maybe you feel anger, but I hope upon further reflection you feel guilt, and then upon further reflection you feel empowered to change the hearts and minds of Others)
Now, I’ll say that as much as I am an acting-pacifist in my day to day life (I don’t kill mosquitoes or spiders and I don’t initiate violence or aggression), I am not a Pacifist. I believe in a rational and practical method of defense. If someone uses violence against me or someone in my proximity then I am obligated to defend and protect myself and others, and if that person has put themselves in a position to where my only option is to use deadly force against them, I must. And although I legitimize this position and think it to be a duty if ever in a scenario like that above, it is not a Christian position and I admit that I would be going against my Christian ethics if I were to ever act on this.
Killing (any and all killing), whether Justifiable rationally, is a sin. “You shall not murder.” And there are some folks who say that Murder is not the same as killing. But isn’t the result the same, doesn’t someone’s life end, whether you murder someone or whether you kill someone? This is such an argument of words and doesn’t follow from any biblical passage. What is murder in the bible? Well, the root word is רָצַח (ratsach) and it means to murder, or to kill without reason. This is very different from the word חָרַם (charam), which means to destroy or to prohibit. God never tells anyone to רָצַח, but to חָרַם. God is the only one who gives this rationale in the bible and differentiates the two. So, if we are going strictly off what the Old Testament says, here is our ethics: DO NOT KILL, UNLESS GOD COMMANDS YOU TO. Further, because the Old Testament is a historical book, with a conversation between God and a nation, and that God outlines this nation’s laws by speaking directly to the kings and prophets of this nation, there is another element to this testament’s ethic: UNLESS YOU ARE THE KING OF ISRAEL, OR A PROPHET OF GOD TO THE ISRAELI PEOPLE, YOU DO NOT GET COMMANDED TO KILL AND CANNOT COMMAND OTHERS TO KILL. So, from these two facts of the Old Testament we can form a rule that explains what it means when God says “you shall not murder”: YOU SHALL NOT KILL ANYONE UNLESS YOU ARE AN ISRAELITE AND ARE DIRECTED BY GOD TO DO SO, WHICH IS ONLY DIRECTED THROUGH THE PROPHETS AND THE KINGS.
As an American living in the 21st century this means that if I kill (even in self-defense) I am a murderer, and although I may be able to rationally justify killing in defense, I am still a murderer. I may still have to kill because of some deontological morality, but I will have to deal with God. And if you are also a Christian living in 21st century America, so will you. Even if you can rationally justify war or defense, you are still murdering someone. This is so black and white in the Old Testament and the New Testament only further affirms this doctrine of “Killing without God’s permission = Murder.”
Who kills in the New Testament? Not Jesus. Not His Disciples. The only people that we see kill in the New Testament are Paul, The Roman Guards, The Jews, and The Holy spirit. And who is justified in their killing? The Holy Spirit and that is it. We believe, if we are Christians, that the Roman Guards murdered the Messiah. We believe, if we are Christians, that The Jews and Paul Murdered the first century Christians. We believe, if we are Christians, that The Holy Spirit killed Ananias and Sapphira; and this was a justified killing by God. And that is the only justified killing in the entire New Testament.
Further, what does the New Testament say about Murder and Violence? Jesus Gives us a pretty clear difference between how we behave between one another and how The Son of Man will behave towards the unbeliever (He will destroy them in the same way God had destroyed and commanded to destroy in the OT and the Same way the Holy Spirit destroys in the NT). He tells us:
- If we act in anger towards one another, we are just as liable as if we murdered (MT 5)
- If we live by the sword, we will die by the sword (MT 26)
- If you are struck, allow yourself to be struck again, Love those that hate you(LK 6)
- Be at peace with each other (MK 9)
- I leave with you my peace so that you can overcome the world (JN 14)
What does Paul, who was once a murderer, formulate after his conversion? He says to the first churches:
- The fruits of flesh are fits of rage, anger, hatred and division, but the fruits of God’s Spirit are kindness, gentleness, self-control, patience, and peace (Galatians 5)
- If it is possible, live at peace with everyone (Romans 12)
- God has called us to live in peace (1 Corinthians 7)
- Christ came and preached Peace with man and with God (Ephesians 2)
Even more so, what was the response to this? What did the early church fathers say?
- I decline military command… Die to the world, repudiating the madness that is in it (Tatian)
- Christians should love their oppressors. Through love towards their oppressors, they persuade them to become Christians (Aristides)
- If a believer seeks to become a soldier, he must be rejected, for he has despised God (Hippolytus of Rome)
- The Lord, upon disarming Peter, has unbelted every soldier. No dress is lawful among us, if assigned to any unlawful action (Tertullian)
- It is better to suffer wrong than to inflict it, that we should rather shed our own blood than stain our hands and our conscience with that of another (Arnobius)
- Those soldiers were filled with wonder and admiration at the grandeur of the man’s piety and generosity and were struck with amazement. They felt the force of this example of pity. As a result, many of them were added to the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ and threw off the belt of military service (Gregory of Nyssa)
See, the Christian Response to hate, is Love. If we are not acting in Love, no matter how horrific the crime, we are not following the Christian doctrine. And unless we are Israeli people being commanded by God to kill we are Murdering. Perhaps we could justify war, and perhaps we could justify defense, but that doesn’t make it NOT SIN.
Well, what about Aquinas? What about the Catholic JUST WAR THEORY? Is the theory found in the bible? No. Is it a good model for pagan nations to live by? YES. It’s a great way to reconcile war, but does not make Murder NOT SIN. So, while there may be Logical and Rational ways to have a coherent system for non-criminal Murder, it’s still murder. It’s still sin. We will still have to confront God one day. Even if I justify the murder of Hitler, it’s still murder. This doesn’t change and I hope now you can see that if you support war, it’s not from your Christian perspective, but from a rational perspective grounded in Sin. So please get angry with me, and then reflect on what you have just read, then feel guilty for not seeing it this way before, then pray and ask for forgiveness for justifying Murder, and feel empowered to explain this position to others so that we can live out the Christian message and be reconciled unto God.
Go In Peace.