K is for Thou Shalt Not Kill

We all create our own theology.

My late mother had a fairly simple theology, which she said was to follow the Ten Commandments. Sometime in the last decade of life, I asked her what did that mean in this world. What is meant by graven images, e.g.?

Also, I asked what does Thou Shalt Not Kill mean? How does it apply to war, self-defense, defense of others, capital punishment, abortion, suicide, euthanasia, even eating meat?

It is evidently true that in biblical Hebrew… “killing (harag) and murder (ratzah) are two different words with two very different moral connotations, and the commandment uses the Hebrew word ratzah.”

The question becomes, Is the last word? I was looking at 78 biblical verses about Thou Shalt Not Kill. On a personal level, I was immediately drawn to Luke 6:31″ “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” This is generally known as the Golden Rule.

Also, from Matthew 5: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?”

I was a Methodist for the majority of my life, and the message for me has almost always been, “Use your head! Make up your own mind! Don’t just swallow everything the religious leaders have taught you.” I’ve also been struck by what a Unitarian once told me, that we all create our own theology. I think this true: God/the universe/whatever you call it has given us discernment and intellect.

So, for example, capital punishment makes no sense to me. I’ve written in the past about how a father of a young woman killed the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 went on a spiritual journey to where he found the idea of vengeance against her murderer, Timothy McVeigh, utterly abhorrent.

But we all find different paths on this journey. What are some of yours?

From ABC Wednesday

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

9 thoughts on “K is for Thou Shalt Not Kill”

  1. Actually, a Jewish religious instructor told me that in Judaism the Golden Rule is written in the NEGATIVE: “Do NOT do those things to another that you would NOT have done to you.” I think that makes things a bit clearer; if you don’t want ME ‘in your face,’ DON’T get in MINE. It goes along with the human perspective called Empathy.

  2. I think in the end your Unitarian friend was right, – when we have finished pondering, considering and puzzling if we are lucky we come up with our own theology.

  3. Too deep for me right now but I do say that if you’re in a situation where it’s him or me, I’d kill to defend myself and my family and my country.

    abcw team

  4. I prefer Luke’s verse.. I try to pray for those who hurt me, not always succeeding though..

    The opionins about abortion, euthansia etc differs a lot.. I am not against it because ‘not killing’ can keep a ‘living hell’ alive, no body deserves that in my opinions.

    Still… if ‘kil’ is needed, than only in the most humane way.

    Have a splendid, ♥-warmin ABC-Wednes-day / -week
    ♫ M e l  d y ♫ (abc-w-team)

  5. I really have problems with the death penalty. I guess I might be able to see it in a case like the serial killer Ted Bundy, but in my state I believe it is over used. Besides, the Innocent Project has gotten people off of death row in this country who were actually innocent. I wonder how many times an innocent person has been executed? At one time we used to visit the Harris County Juvenile Detention Center on Christmas Day with the Holiday Project. We were told there was a 90%+ return rate because when the kids (mostly males) got out they went back to the same neighborhoods and most had no male role models in their lives. Then I started to notice that sometimes when someone was executed it would say in the newspaper that they had been “in the system” since they were 13 or 14 years old. I think we’re failing these kids. I don’t have the answers, but something needs to be done. It also bothers me that someone with a lot of money can afford a defense that a poor person with a court appointed lawyer can’t get. Think OJ. That’s not to say a court appointed lawyer isn’t any good. There are many dedicated ones, but they can’t afford to bring in expert witnesses, etc. I just have mixed emotions when it comes to the death penalty. Maybe only in very extreme cases. It’s still killing.

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