Exodus holds the 10 commandments. Specifically, we see:
Exodus 20:13 (KJV)
Thou shalt not kill.
Since the Ten Commandments say “thou shalt not kill” why do Christians fight in a war?
This misinterpretation is due to a language shift since the days of King James, when that version of the Ten Commandments was set forth. The term "kill" back then meant what "murder" means today, and I think that everyone would agree that that's a good thing to prohibit in strong, absolute terms.
If you look through the King James Version of the Bible, you don't see the word "kill" used very often, and when it's used it invariably refers to murder. For a non-murderous cause of death, the word is "slay". This is what soldiers do to each other, and if I recall correctly it's also what the priests did to the sacrificial animals.
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I was just studying this. If you read more about this very topic you'll find that God is talking about shedding innocent blood.
Have a look at what God did here:
Judges 3:1-2 (New International Version)
God literally preserved wicked nations around Israel just to teach the Israelite's how to fight. Have a look at this other command straight from Jesus.
Luke 22:36 (New International Version)
Jesus is telling us to carry a sword with us when we go out to preach his word. God is not a pushover. God is a man's man that is very capable of sending you into battle, so that you may bring Him glory.
When you hear preachers saying that soldiers need to repent, well, that preacher needs to read his Bible and come to terms with the fact that God is the General of His people.
There are two ways to approach that commandment. Either it is absolute or it is relative: it can either refer to all of human life, or some subset of human life. Clearly it cannot be the former as the Torah also allows for the death penalty (before anyone tries to argue, "but Christ says..." or "but the woman caught in adultery..." I will counter that the original question is in reference to the 10 Commandments and their context must be the first place we look for the intended meaning). Therefore it must be some sub-set of humans who should not be killed. We also know (similarly from the Torah) that there were circumstances where war was acceptable, so the original, intended meaning of the commandment cannot be said to include war.
Based off of the penal laws of the Old Testament, it actually becomes fairly clear that "kill" here, for a private citizen, must mean wrathfully and willfully (Exo. 21:14) or through negligence (c.f. Exo. 21:28). However, if the person is caught in the commission of a crime, that "killing" is licit (Exo. 22:1). As far as a society is concerned, however, it is clear that both the death penalty and war are not only permitted, but at times even encouraged.
Now, to bring this forward to Christianity. While we cannot deny the admonitions to "turn the other cheek", "he who is without sin", and "he who lives by the sword", it should be noted that there is nothing which actually condemns the legitimate defense of one's household and property. If anything, Christ's use of a whip to injure (what else would the whip do?) the money-lenders in the temple should be seen as an expression that sometimes violence is not only justified, but necessary (Christ always did the best thing, overturning the tables and making a whip, therefore, must have been the best thing).
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The breadth of Jesus' message is that if we found ourselves in any position that we thought killing would be OK - The correct response would be to actually love that person instead.
** We are to Kill the spirit of evil in that person with love. **
(Don't forget, evil spirits are transferable and contagious.)
This doesn't mean that if they will continue to be a danger to others that they can't be locked up but to kill is the enemy winning.
To love is God winning.
Matthew 10:28 (NET)
The life of the human body is irrelevant to the eternal life of the spirit.
The other answers here are earthly perspectives.
Which would you rather be - enter the next world from natural causes a few years after killing your enemy or enter the next world killed by your enemy but without murder on your hands ??
Jesus died for His enemies. We are suppose to be little Christs.
Sorry but this commandment means exactly what it says.
God and Jesus are telling us not to take life in any context or situation.
God is all powerful and perfect - if he want's someone gone He can do it himself, He can wipe out an entire continent or the world with a flood if needed. I don't think I need a reference for that one.
With that said, why would we think we need to kill any one in any context, innocent, non-innocent, enemy, friend, slay in war, etc.
That would be taking the matter into our own hands and not trusting God.
God can change a killing situation in a second:
God is also trying to protect us from being killed:
The commandment is also reiterated from Jesus' mouth. Matthew 19: 16-18
Notice that there are no unless, or if this, or that...etc.
The Old Testament commands to fight wicked nations, but that does not apply in the New Testament. Jesus specifically tells us at the Sermon on the mound we should not stand up for ourselves and that we should pray for such people. When Jesus returns He will then take care of the wicked or will call us to help Him.
Doesn't leave much room for killing. Some say it is Jesus using a hyperbole but if He was he would have said so.
As followers in Christ, we do not belong to any country, we belong to our Lord. We are told to obey them but not if it contradicts the word of God.
So being a Christian and in the Military IN A POSITION OF KILLING is not really a Christian concept. There are may Christians who during WWII refused to carry a weapon and were pushed into medical care and other service positions.
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