Thou Shalt Not Kill
Another translation: You shall not commit murder.
This is pretty straight forward at first glance. And how many problems in history could have been averted if this commandment had been followed? But this one commandment is loaded.
Although death is but a fleeting moment in the great big span of eternity, whether you spend it in hell or with our eternal Father, death is something that ends life - and as so many of us know, life is precious. If God wanted us to decide who lives and who dies, does that not set humanity up to put themselves in positions of power, only to have that power go to their heads? God doesn't have to worry about that; if He smites us in the Old Testament, He doesn't need a power trip - He is ALL POWERFUL! But if it is not God letting the fallen world take its course, but mankind deciding who lives and who dies...well I think it is safe to say, if we have total say in the matter, we are destined to fail this world and find ourselves extinct. Might as well listen to the almighty God who, as usual, gave us a commandment for our own good.
Don't get me wrong. I have a confession to make; I have always had a warped fascination with violence, and death, and fighting... in a fantasy sense. And that doesn't make it right. But I picked my own personal drawing from back in my teenage years, the one shown above, because I think it represents one symbol of death all of us have seen in movies or read about in stories; the assassin. I know that killing is wrong, because God tells us so. I know many reasons why it is wrong. Yet the sinful side of my imagination does not try to run from the thought. Of course, I pray I never, ever, have to take someone's life. But at the same time, I think that society has taken life for granted, and therefore people think such ideas like someone wanting to kill you is pure fantasy when it comes to themselves, personally. And yet the widespread terrorism throughout the world today, or the classic style of mobsters using hitmen, or criminals searching for retribution, or soldiers fighting other soldiers and being forced to kill, is all very real. So why do we do it? Is there ever a good reason to kill, especially when God specifically and very plainly said Don't Do it?
What are some reasons people commit murder? Why does anyone stoop to the level of evil of taking another person's life? I wanted to jot down some thoughts, and just get your mind thinking about the issue.
First of all, we will dive right into my apparent obsession - assassins. Are they real? Do they exist today? Well, let's see...if Osama bin Laden was killed the way we have been told, then the short answer: yes. And we have all sorts of evidence that assassins have been used for various reasons by people of wealth or people in powerful stations in life throughout history. But why? Why be an assassin? Since I try to find out what goes on in the minds of assassins, reading actual thoughts in research, or watching documentaries about hitmen for the mafia, I have seen some of the things that make them tick. But I think one thing essential to the personality of an assassin is the mindset that consequences mean very little to a killer who has perfected the practice of killing. In other words, the assassin doesn't feel like they are really taking that much risk with what they do in the grand scheme of things, because they have already made their mind up that consequences will just happen, or they won't; they will either get caught, or they won't; they will either meet their match, or not. And this boldness, though not to be admired, is still fascinating to me because the more success the assassin has, the greater their confidence, and the more dangerous they become. But make no mistake about it; the assassin trade it utterly evil. There is a reason why I made the main character of my first novel an assassin. But there is also a reason why I tried to show that I was not condoning his actions by the title - Misguided. Of course assassins are not the only dealers of death.
Then you have people who commit murder out of jealousy, or people who commit murder out of retribution, or people who commit murder out of anger. Crimes of passion, death delivered from people's lack of control of their emotions either in the heat of the moment, or because they have been consumed by the onset of such emotions; these can happen on an impulse, or they can be pre-meditated. I have a hard time understanding how someone could lose total control when I think of most of the cases of these crimes of passion, but it isn't my place to judge. Oh sure, I have lost control of my own temper, and I have hurt someone out of anger. However, I don't feel like I have ever been wronged enough by any one person to begin to understand what might spur someone else to commit an atrocity like murder. Who really knows what evil they may be capable of, when according to the Bible, we have all fallen to sin? But can we really condone any of these actions?
What about those that kill in the name of their religion? Well, of course, true religions like Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism - they actually do not condone killing in the name of God, or a god, these days. The exception to the rule, along with let's face it - cults - is Islam. I know, I know, the PC people out there are going to say there are moderate Muslims. Yes, that is true. But if you look at the history, and read the Quran yourself, and know what Muhammad said, then you won't need much time to realize that the 'radical' version of the religion is the one where violent jihad is NOT condoned. The original teachings and the Quran itself tell quite a different story from modern day proponents of Islam, and the very nature of the religion, whether you're a terrorist who commits violence or not, has a very coercive influence on followers. And that coerciveness comes in the form of law, and government, if true Islam is to be obtained. Good old Sharia Law. One could easily suggest that putting such pressure on individuals to be so religious and pursue piety, simply because of man's sinful nature and the impossibility of the task to be without sin, would force people to conform to a radical ideology where if people do not believe what they are supposed to believe, they must die. Since cults are really the only other place in society where such coercion is found, one could also easily suggest that Islam happens to be the world's largest cult. Oh dear, I've said too much. Oh well, truth hurts...especially the terrorists. So why do terrorists do what they do? Well, besides the fact that their tactics are quite effective at causing terror, they are also coerced into their deeds. Coercion is powerful, and also unethical. Basically you are using overwhelming influence to make someone feel like they no longer have a choice. Coercion is the simple reason for the Miranda rights for citizens in the US; to protect Joe citizen from coercion by law enforcement.
Then you have War. War has been around since there were enough men to fight one. Wars have existed and occurred for all sorts of reasons, but the main reason they happen is because of disagreement. Is war murder? Not in the pre-meditating sense, but that doesn't mean that killing someone in war is a good thing. It may, in an instant, be necessary to preserve the life of another. But how does one justify one life taken for another, other than camaraderie and brotherhood - in the eyes of God? Heavy thing to think about, I know. It is one of the reasons I empathize with soldiers and Marines. It is one of the reasons I couldn't push myself to take that final step and voluntarily sign that dotted line for Uncle Sam; because I knew there would be that chance that not only might I have to kill someone, but I would feel like I had to do it for the sake of my brother. And although I could do that, how do we really make sense of it in the great big picture, because some powers that be of one side had a disagreement with powers that be of another? Please don't misunderstand me. I think because of the strong bonds of brotherhood that I know I would form with other men or women, I could act. But the answer to the question of 'is it right', in the eyes of God...that would be the conundrum. I know what I would do, and even why, but that doesn't make it right. I guess what I am saying is that I know I'd gladly take that shot if it means saving my brother. But I also know that I will just have to answer for that death to my Maker. I'd tell God what I did and why I did it, but who am I to know the mind of God and how He'd look at me afterward...if not for the blood of Jesus Christ? No, I think war is ugly. I think war is wrong. I didn't take the time to research on this small part of the blog post, but even if I participated, I would know in my heart of hearts that death would not please God. Otherwise, why would He put us here?
What about those people out there who simply kill out of malice? Those folks who just kill because it pleases them to do so? Well, I think we can assume Satan has a special hold on those people, and I cannot begin to tell you why they exist, only than to maybe bring to light ways God still overcomes evil, no matter how evil that killer may seem. But this is not as common as some people may think, and I think there is a reason for that. Satan only has so much control, and I think God likes to remind him of that every so often.
Speaking of reminders, what about those who do act in protection or preservation of the life of another, such as police officers, or certain security or bodyguards? Is this kind of killing, keeping a killer from killing someone else, and acting to eliminate a threat by putting it out of commission, seen as evil in the eyes of God? Although as usual, I think it is situational, I think that our God is also an understanding God. But I also think we may use the right or authority to protect as an excuse too often. I know just from training, research, and second hand knowledge passed to me from fellow officers who have experienced it, that there are times where the only thing that will protect and stop a threat is the killing of a violent or deadly enough perpetrator. But I also have learned, through additional training, and even being blessed to have as friends officers who have somehow, in the heat of the moment, when a subject had the means to kill another individual, those officers were still somehow able to de-escalate the situation enough to where deadly force was averted. I cannot tell you how blessed my life has been by getting to know so many people now who live to protect others, and I am honored to be able to work alongside them. But I also know that I will continue to pray that I never have to be the officer who has to kill someone else, in order to preserve another. I can only imagine the stress and regret and guilt. And although I think in many of these situations, God may not see the 'street justice' of the violent criminal as an evil action by the officer who fired the shot, I doubt very seriously that it is pleasing. Go back to what I keep saying; there is a reason why God told His people not to do certain things. And my how the consequences have followed from our disobedience.
You shall not kill, He said - and He said it for a reason. So whether one is a terrorist, an assassin, a jaded lover, a police officer, or a serial killer - if you are a killer, your actions may seem justified to you...but in the end, God will be the judge.
Told ya...loaded commandment.