Should the Bible's commandment "thou shalt not kill" be taken literally, or is there a deeper meaning? Pastor Mark Driscoll of Trinity Church in Phoenix, Arizona, says that some killing is justified, but murder is not. And not all killing is murder.
In a video posted to his website this week, the pastor responds to the question of whether or not Christian military should be considered "killing machine[s]." Driscoll explains that some killings are "justified."
"What we're getting into is the 'just war defense,'" Driscoll says. "That is: legitimate authority operating in a defensive manner for a noble cause of proportional force ... " The pastor says that if those criteria are met, then most Christian theologians and Bible teachers would agree that killing is justifiable. He adds that justified killings include capital punishment, police officers who shoot defensively, and self-defense.
Driscoll says that there is another, more literal interpretation of the Exodus 20:13 verse, "thou shalt not kill." He explains, "This has been a point of theological disagreement for a long time."
This interpretation argues that God forbids killing of any kind, under any circumstances. The pastor refers to the modern-day example of the popular Mel Gibson film "Hacksaw Ridge," which depicts the true story of how Seventh-day Adventist soldier Desmond Doss rescues 75 men during WWII without once firing a single shot. According to Driscoll, this is considered to be a pacifist point of view.
The pastor counters this belief system, saying, "In the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament, there [were] more than two dozen capital offenses. Things in God's law [where] you [could] be put to death by the state under the Old Testament theocracy."
In the New Testament, Driscoll points to Romans 13: "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation ... "
Pastor Discoll, however, draws a distinct line between killing and murder. Unlike lower creation, such as animals and plants, mankind is conferred with dignity and worth, he explains. Murder is the taking of an innocent life that is made in the image and likeness of God. Driscoll points to Genesis 9:6 (KJV), "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man."
He adds, "So the reason [why] God says you're not allowed to run around murdering each other is that I (God) made you in my image and likeness, and when someone does evil to you, they are also sinning against me (God), because I made you in my image, and you belong to me."