Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Wash., explained what God meant when He commanded not to murder, and also gave seven reasons from the Bible why abortion is a violation of the "very simple and very complicated" Sixth Commandment.
The key question is what God means by murder, the pastor said as he began his message last Sunday, which was part of a series of sermons on Ten Commandments.
Exodus 20:13 states, "You shall not murder." The King James Translation of the Bible states, "Thou shalt not kill," which can lead to false thinking, such as, "you should never defend yourself; you should hold a position of extreme pacifism; if someone breaks into your home, you should let them harm your family rather than take their life," said Driscoll.
But the Bible does not present God as a pacifist, he stated, explaining that the Bible says we should not murder, according to the original word used. Murder, he said, refers to such things as manslaughter, violent and unauthorized killing, personal vengeance and revenge, "and yes, just good old fashioned murder."
Accidental death, self-defense, a soldier in a just war, a police officer returning fire may not constitute murder, the pastor added.
The Mars Hill pastor then explained why murder is wrong. "God is the author of life. God is the one who is sovereign over life. God has all authority over human life," he said, quoting Genesis 9:6, "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by men shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image."
This is biblical thinking, the megachurch pastor added, this is not evolutionary thinking. "In evolutionary thinking, human beings are just lucky animals. In biblical thinking, they are image-bearers of God... God made animals, and he loved them, he provided for them, he cared for them... But then, God makes man and woman alone in his image and likeness, so human beings are in a category below God and above the animals... Jesus died for people."
But that doesn't mean we should mistreat animals or be cruel to them, he warned.
God says do not murder fellow human beings "because they bear my image," and it is violence against the God who made them, Driscoll explained.
Murder is actually a demonic issue, not just a social issue, he stressed, quoting John 8:44, "You're like your father. Your father is the devil and he's been a murderer since the beginning." God makes life, and Satan takes life.
But we have become so adept at murder that we've actually created words like genocide to explain mass murder, Driscoll went on to say, referring to technological innovation. "We may be advancing technologically, but we're not advancing morally, so we use technology to murder more efficiently."
The pastor noted that four men - Hitler, Lenin, Mao and Stalin - took 175 million lives in the 20th century. These four were believers in atheistic Communism and various aberrations of it. He quoted Proverbs 8:36, "All who hate me love death."
Today, we live in an increasingly desensitized culture to murder, Driscoll said. "By the time they graduate from high school at age 18, the average young adult has witnessed - between television, video games, and movies - 80,000 murders."
The pastor then asked, can the state take a life? "God not only tells us not to murder individually, he gives commands to governments nationally," he said, based on Romans 13:1–4: "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain."
All authority is derivative authority, the pastor stated. "It's borrowed from God; it's on loan from God."
Driscoll then talked about capital punishment. "There are over two dozen, in Old Testament, occasions in which capital punishment was sanctioned by God," he said.
The pastor also dealt with issues related to war. "... There are occasions where God's people go to war, and there are even war heroes in the Bible like King David," he told the congregation. A justified war is by a legitimate authority, is defensive, is for a noble cause, uses proportional force, does not target civilians, preserves more lives than takes and is a last resort, he explained.
Pastor Driscoll moved on to the issue of abortion, asking if it's murder. "The issue is not choice; the issue is murder. Don't let semantics confuse you. Do you not believe in choice? I don't believe in murder. What we're talking about is not choice but murder. When does life begin? Friends, life begins at conception. Scientifically and medically, it's incontrovertible. It just is... It may be a little person, but it's a person made in the image and likeness of God, and every mother who's had an ultrasound knows this."
The megachurch pastor offered seven reasons based on the Bible why abortion is murder.
One, only a human being is called a sinner. According to Psalm 51:5, we are sinful from our mother's womb. "So, a baby in the womb is not just a person, they're a sinner... They're a sinner who needs a Savior."
Two, Isaiah and Jeremiah, two great Old Testament prophets, "both tell us that they were called for their prophetic ministry from their mother's womb," the pastor said.
Three, Luke 1:15 says John the Baptizer "will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb."
Four, God knitted us together in our mother's womb, Psalm 139 says. "The Bible teaches that God is involved in the womb of the mother, knitting the child together," Driscoll told the church members. "There are still many aspects of conception and growth that the medical world does not fully know or understand."
Five, in the New Testament, originally written in Greek, "brephos" is the word for kids, the pastor said. The word is used in Luke 18, which narrates an incident where children come to Jesus. The same word is used for the unborn Jesus or the preborn Jesus in Luke 2:12.
Six, God became a baby in a mother's womb. God became a man, "but first He was a baby that, like all of us, grew in his mother's womb, was birthed into the world, and then grew to become an adult," the pastor said.
Seven, God is a Father. "God could have chosen any word by which to reveal himself and he chose 'Father,'" the pastor said. "What do you think the Father heart of God is toward children? There's a difference between a father's heart and a murderer's heart. A father will do anything to protect the life of the child. A murderer will do anything to take the life of a child. God is a Father; he's not a murderer."
Driscoll then asked, "Well, what about those who have birth defects like Down syndrome?" The pastor offered the answer, saying, "There are members of our church with Down syndrome who love the Lord Jesus and would tell you that they're made in the image and likeness of God, and they would tell you that they don't think that they should be murdered."