You shall not murder—Exodus 20:13
But if any harm follows, then you must take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot—Exodus 21:23-24
They utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, both young and old, and ox, sheep, and donkey, with the edge of the sword.—Joshua 6:21
Now go and strike Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and don’t spare them; but kill both man and woman, infant and nursing baby, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.—1 Samuel 15:3
You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you, don’t resist him who is evil; but whoever strikes you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also.—Matt 5:38-39
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you—Matt 5:43-44
Come on now, Bible, which is it? Kill or don’t kill? My head’s hurting.
Well, breaking down the above verses:
God says don’t kill.
Man says it’s okay to kill, often stating God says it’s okay.
Jesus, the son of God, says don’t kill.
Considering these things, it would seem God and Jesus state pretty clearly not to kill. I think any conclusion we draw has to be tempered from that. Man seems to have had a hard time getting the message. It seems we will bend the Word of God to suit our whims, use it as a weapon against others, or just ignore what it really says if it doesn’t sync up with our popular beliefs. This tends to happen when we view the Bible as a law book to justify doing what we define as good while avoiding/condemning/destroying that which we define as evil. We’re stuck on a steady diet of The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil when we should be eating from The Tree of Life (aka Jesus).
The Bible is an ancient book showing how people of those times perceived God based on their society. It lists out the down and dirty. Perhaps it is trying to show us what happens when we bend God’s statements to our human agenda. In the overall story, we see humanity moving forward towards greater understanding and love. God says, “Don’t kill.” Then Jesus comes along and says, “No, really, don’t kill. As a matter of fact, love your enemy.” And there it is, the whole point—love. Jesus even went to the cross to prove this love and, in turn, avoided harming anyone.
Yet, we still attempt to hold on to ancient ways of perceiving God instead of moving forward. We do this under the guise of cliches like “God doesn’t change.” While this is true, it would seem that God came to humanity and communicated how to move forward from where they were at in their understanding at the time.
Yes, we’ve progressed some (though very messily), but we still use phrases to justify our hatred like “God bless America” and “God bless our troops.” What’s so wrong with these two sayings? Jesus tells us to bless our enemies. Instead, we ask only for blessings for ourselves and our comforts. Bless America/our troops implies that we should receive all the blessings while Jesus states something complete different, even radical. So radical, in fact, that two thousand years later we’re still not getting it.
I believe God is still calling us to move forward. Instead, we insist on holding onto antiquated ways of understanding while misrepresenting God’s intent for humanity’s journey. I don’t believe God’s intent for us is to stagnate in a static society of “righteous” rule following but to continually move his kingdom of love forward in the world.