Read Exodus 20:13
13 “You shall not murder. (NIV)
This seems to be such a straightforward command. Of course we ought not murder. Life is valuable. God gives it and presumably he doesn’t want us to take it away.
But what about other forms of killing? Is capital punishment acceptable on the basis that if someone takes a human life illegitimately their own life is forfeit as a consequence? Or is capital punishment in itself an act of murder?
What about euthanasia? While we are not to take life, are we to prolong it by technology when there is clearly a time for each one of us to die? And at the other end of life, there is abortion. Those who argue life begins at conception also argue that the taking of such life is covered by this commandment. Even if the motivation is very different from a cold-blooded murderer.
And there is the matter of war. Do I breach this commandment when I take up arms and take the life of one who is termed an enemy? Is a soldier or aircraft pilot a murderer? Or are such people merely being obedient servants of the civil authorities?
So this seemingly simple command may not be so simple to interpret. We may be all agreed that murder is wrong, but we may disagree on just what constitutes murder. Then again, we can perhaps all agree that given this command expresses the value of human life, we can do all we can to enhance and nourish the life we live and the lives of those we love.