Is All Killing Wrong?"You shall not murder."—Exodus 20:13
We live in a violent and murderous culture today, a culture that is awash in fighting and killing, a culture where nearly two million people are violent crime victims each year. Yet the sixth commandment says, "You shall not murder" (Exodus 20:13).
All murder is wrong, but all killing isn't necessarily wrong. That is an important distinction to make. All murder is killing, but all killing is not necessarily murder. We are never to take the life of another human being for no justifiable reason. But the Bible does not condemn all killing. If you study Numbers 35, you will see that God established a difference between killing and murder.
So when is killing right? One example is self-defense. You have the right to defend yourself. A country also has a right, and really the responsibility, to defend itself. God has even established authority, such as the military and the police. Romans 13 says, "For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil" (verses 3-4).
When Paul made that statement, the authority was the Roman government. Was the Roman government a pure, moral, godly force on the earth? Hardly. But even with the problems of the Roman government and the Caesars, Paul recognized that God is ultimately in control.
There is a place for authority, for the military and the police. It doesn't mean they always do the right thing. But God has established the authority.