Is Killing a Sin?

Is Killing a Sin?

Are Christians justified in killing? Should Christians be pacifists? What about Christians serving in the military or in law enforcement?

These are all great questions that deserve careful considerations. As a former soldier, war veteran, and Christian missionary I devoted great amounts of careful study to the subject, consulting theologians, commentaries, and of course, the Scripture first and foremost. Here is what I found:

Thou Shalt not Kill

  • Both from the Hebrew rendering, and contextual comparisons, the rendering of this command is unquestionably ‘thou shalt not kill [wrongly]’, ie., murder. This command is found in Exodus 20:13, and as contextual support, consider in Exodus 15:3, God calls himself a warrior, in Exodus chapters 14 and 17, God endorses open war, and in Exodus 21:23, God gives sets up capital punishment for the courts to use on murderers.
  • God has killed people and will kill more people. Deuteronomy 1:30; Judges 7:22; Luke 12:5
  • King Solomon (king of Israel c. 1000 BC) tells us in Ecclesiastes 3:3, and 3:8b that “there is a time to kill, and a time to heal…a time for war, and a time for peace”. How do you think Solomon would answer the question, “is killing a sin?”

God is a defender & warrior and we are called to be like Him

God is a good father who wants to protect his kids (just like some of you). Jesus is God’s only son, and when Jesus volunteered for the mission to rescue the world, God sent Him behind enemy lines on a rescue mission.

Jesus’ death and resurrection broke the power of death and paid the consequence of our sin, and in so doing, God was able to adopt a world-full of kids. And He loves His kids. And He protects His kids.

  • Exodus 15:3 : “The Lord is a man of war; the Lord is his name.”
  • Jeremiah 20:11: “for God is with me as a dread warrior”
  • Judges 3:1-2: God intentionally left enemies in Israel so the nation would not lose the art of war.
  • 2 Samuel 22:23: God “trains my hands for war”
    2 Samuel 23: God’s army and what I refer to as the birth of special operations (fun read)
  • Revelation 17:14: “They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.
  • Revelation 19:11-16 : “Then I saw heaven open, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.”
Old Testament 10 commandments recieved by Moses and found in Exodus and Deuteronomy of the Bible
Moses receiving the 10 commandments on Mount Sanai. Painting by Arnold Friberg

War stuff was just an Old Testament thing

  • Paul warns us in Romans 13:4, that the ruler is “God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” Understand then, that the New Testament validates killing at least in the capacities of a soldier and/or police officer.
  • Jesus, Paul, Luke, etc. never disagree with the calling of the soldier or police officer, they just don’t want them to be corrupt soldiers and cops, and in some cases these fighters are highly praised by them. Consider: Acts 10; Luke 3:14; Matthew 8:5-13; 2 Timothy 2:3; 1 Corinthians 9:7
  • In Revelation 19:11-16, we see Jesus transfigured and super awesome/scary. Jesus did not come to the earth to judge, but He is coming back to judge. When He comes back, it is with a sword to do terrible violence.

Turn the other cheek!

God calls us to defend the weak, to love our enemies, to uphold justice (ex: enforce laws with penalties), etc. So understand that you can pick one of these, ignore the others, and come out very confused because your theological framework was overly simplistic and therefore not capable of sorting out more difficult questions.

Jesus turns the other cheek when appropriate, and then flips over tables and uses an improvised weapon in another. Jesus is hugging children one moment, and then transfigured into a scary visage that shined like the sun. Jesus is forgiving the prostitute, and then rebuking and provoking the religious leaders of the day until they want to murder Him.

In Revelation 5, we see Jesus appears as both a lamb and a lion at the same time. He is gentle and loving, and He is dangerous and ferocious. We should be the same way; the trick is knowing when to turn the other cheek (as a sacrificial lamb), and when to fight (as a furious lion).

When we are told to ‘turn the other cheek’ I believe Jesus is telling us to be ready to suffer insult and shame for His kingdom.

For example: Let’s say you are my brother, but you decided you didn’t like my face, and because of your disdain you think, ‘hey, I’m going to blacken up John’s eyes because I hate him’ – then we may have a fight. Now, if I am strong, I may beat you and that would demonstrate my strength. However, if I was even stronger, I may waive my right to self-defense (as Jesus did) and allow you to beat the daylights out of me because I love you too much to do the same to you.

Imagine beating someone up while they kept saying ‘I forgive you’ with ever stroke. You may beat me, but I dare say you would never forget what happened. Such love might even win your soul; it worked for Jesus.

Even if they were threatening my life, it may be appropriate (if God has called you to be a martyr), to turn the other cheek unto death. If they threaten my family though…or the weak, then Protector John will ‘flip his switch’ and it is ‘game on’ fighting time. I am dealing with this quickly and in very general principles, so please do not apply what I am saying to your exact situation without serious care and the consultation of a minister.

Christians huddle together in the Coliseum to await being torn apart by wild beasts
Christians in the Roman Coliseum awaiting martyrdom. Painting by Jean Leon Jerome

But what about the crusades…?!

The Crusades were a bloody mess (quite literally, regrettably). When I think of the crusades, I believe there were 2 sides with 2 bad guys: the Christians and the Muslims (and the Muslims were the worse of the two).

The first crusade started out as a rescue mission because Muslim invasion of Christian lands (which had been happening steadily and violently for over 5 centuries at this point) had reached a new height in its severity. What transpired was a violent take back of Jerusalem, with an unjustifiable overkill slaughter of Muslims and Jews.

Lots of passion, but ill-advised.

The good news is, I am not a follower of the Monastic Knights and don’t care to justify their individual and varied motives/actions, rather, I am a follower of Jesus. You need not fear me bursting into any warmongering fits of violence.

I’m going to attempt to live as peacefully as Jesus did.

 

8 thoughts on “Is Killing a Sin?”

  1. Thanks for the thorough and yet concise summary on a Biblical perspective of killing. It seems like there a lot of people who find the idea impossible of a Christian ever being justified in taking a life. However, as you have pointed out, scripture is filled with such situations. I think it’s important, as you talk about frequently, to be of a mindset that is motivated to action by love and not hate- to be a protector of the innocent and of our loved ones, not a self-serving and vengeful killer. When some family and friends find out that I carry a gun they look at me like I must be out for blood or hoping someone picks a fight with me so i can shoot them. It’s sometimes difficult to get them to understand that love for the people closest to me is what motivates my preparatory action and training.

  2. Finally I have been able to find someone with enough guts to express his beliefs regardless of political correctness! My brother, my beliefs mirror yours; I am also a follower of Jesus and He is the most important thing in my life. I encourage you to continue being His witness. May our Lord bless you and all of yours today and always. THANK YOU!

  3. John, I saw your witness and testimony of Jesus Christ recently. I was so glad to hear it and I was very impressed by your sincerity. I could tell you were telling the truth. I also strive to be His disciple. He gives me strength and purpose.

    I have been a LEO for 36 years and recently retired. Retiring has been more difficult than I ever imagined it would be. It seems the purpose of my life, the protection of others, is gone. However, Jesus sustains me as I search for another great purpose.

    I have an idea. You might think about doing a youtube about what to expect when the inevitable end of the warrior career comes. Also, what to do about it and how to continue with the warrior spirit in the appropriate way.

  4. I tend to concur with your stance, but then at the same time, I find myself wondering why Jesus never killed someone. In his 33 years, do you think he would not have seen eminent deadly violence against an innocent victim and been willing to stop it? If he lived to show us an example of a holy life, it might involve some type of justified killing. (It sounds so strange to speak about it.) I know he did exhibit righteous anger however, but he never killed. Maybe during this time on earth, he was called only to be the Lamb.

  5. Most Christians believe its okay to kill or harm others while protecting themselves, family, or country. Most so called pastors agree, but the word of God says contrary. Christ Yahshua says in
    Matthew 5:7-9
    7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
    8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
    9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
    Matthew 5:38-39
    38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
    39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
    Matthew 5:44
    44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
    John the Baptist told roman soldiers in,
    Luke 3:14
    14 And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.
    1 Peter 3:9 says,
    9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
    Ephesians 6:15 says,
    15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
    When Paul was struck in the mouth he did not retaliate with violence,
    Acts 23:2-3
    2 And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth.
    3 Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?
    Revelation 13:10 says,
    10 He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.
    Matthew 26:51-52
    51 And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear.
    52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
    Christ also says we are to be as wise as a serpepnt and as harmless as a dove,
    Matt 10:16
    16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
    Of course this goes agianst human nature. But Christ followers are to be separate and different than worldly people. They are peacefull, loving, and kind. When a man kills another man he takes not only his life but also that mans chance to repent and be saved. For all who die in sin are damned. This is why christians can not harm or kill anyone for any reason.
    Romans 8:36
    36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
    Revelation 12:11
    11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

    No New Testament scripture says contrary. No! Not even one can be found. Anyone that teaches contrary is a liar and not teaching Christs one true doctrine.
    1 Timothy 4:1
    4 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
    2 Timothy 4:3-4
    3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
    4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
    Peace

  6. Most Christians believe its okay to kill or harm others while protecting themselves, family, or country. Most so called pastors agree, but the word of God says contrary. Christ Yahshua says in
    Matthew 5:7-9
    7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
    8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
    9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
    Matthew 5:38-39
    38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
    39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
    Matthew 5:44
    44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
    John the Baptist told roman soldiers in,
    Luke 3:14
    14 And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.
    1 Peter 3:9 says,
    9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
    Ephesians 6:15 says,
    15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
    When Paul was struck in the mouth he did not retaliate with violence,
    Acts 23:2-3
    2 And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth.
    3 Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?
    Revelation 13:10 says,
    10 He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.
    Matthew 26:51-52
    51 And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear.
    52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
    Christ also says we are to be as wise as a serpepnt and as harmless as a dove,
    Matt 10:16
    16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
    Of course this goes agianst human nature. But Christ followers are to be separate and different than worldly people. They are peacefull, loving, and kind. When a man kills another man he takes not only his life but also that mans chance to repent and be saved. For all who die in sin are damned. This is why christians can not harm or kill anyone for any reason.
    Romans 8:36
    36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
    Revelation 12:11
    11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

    No New Testament scripture says contrary. No! Not even one can be found. Anyone that teaches contrary is a liar and not teaching Christs one true doctrine.
    1 Timothy 4:1
    4 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
    2 Timothy 4:3-4
    3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
    4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
    Peace

    There is just reason to harm any man, woman, or child in the sight of the Lord. Any person who does harm to somebody else sins.

  7. I am trying to study this subject myself. I need to do a lot of scripture reading. I wonder, how many times in all of scripture is violence or killing perpetrated and condoned by someone who is NOT a part of the state or a government or civil authority of some kind? There are many types of government (the state) in scripture (including theocracy), so this has to be taken into consideration. Was any of this behavior ever condoned in scripture by a non-government or civil authority?

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