- Lesson 7 in the BaptistWay Press Connect 360 unit “Pillars” focuses on Exodus 20:13.
Probably no other commandment adheres itself to more debate among Christian groups and larger society than this one: “You shall not murder.” Ongoing debates about when life begins and when it ends, as well as when and who has the right to end an enemy’s or a criminal’s life bring about many competing opinions and passionately held beliefs.
Just as the command “no murder” is stated directly, the implications of the sixth commandment are far-reaching. Our understanding of these two words shapes our thoughts about suicide, war, euthanasia, abortion, and even pollution and global hunger. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus expanded the sixth commandment even further when he said we are not to be angry with our brother, and that we should love our enemies. We must approach the sixth commandment with humility and seek earnestly to find consistent biblical principles that help us interpret its meaning.
Follow biblical principles
Our decisions about the sanctity of life—whether abortion, war, suicide, capital punishment or euthanasia—must be based on biblical principles rather than feelings or public opinion. When we confront life and-death issues, a biblical perspective will help us make decisions based on the principles of God’s word and our relationship with him, not on societal mores that continuously change. In the Hebrew text of Exodus 20:13, only two words appear—the word for “no” and the word for “murder.” The sixth commandment reflects the biblical teachings about the sanctity of life—from the lives of the preborn to the elderly. Human life, in all its forms, is sacred and created by God for his glory.
What are some truths from God’s word that enable us to make informed decisions? First, God is the creator of all life. The second biblical principle is that God is holy and loving. A third principle is that life is sacred, whether it is in the womb or the nursing home, whether it is healthy or diseased, whether the mind is brilliant or mentally challenged. All life is a gift of God.
Parents with invalid adult children who continue to provide care as long as they are able, mothers who give birth to unwanted pregnancies, adult children taking responsibility and care for their elderly parents and grandparents, a soldier who is able to take a prisoner rather than fire his weapon, diplomats who broker peace between countries to evade war, justice systems that attempt to rehabilitate criminals rather than eliminate them, doctors and scientists who find cures and treat diseases—these are all examples of people advocating for and honoring life.
Compiled by Stan Granberry, marketing coordinator for BaptistWay Press.
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