Murder & War – Definitions at War

Regarding war – you are assuming that all taking of human life is murder” (Shane)

Yup. If there is more to taking a human’s life than I know at this point making it not ‘murder’ – explain away. Is not murder the killing of another human? (SVS)

I will not say warfare is good, but you can not equate it to murder” (Shane)

I don’t understand why though? What happens in war that is so different from murder? They look alike, the hatred is alike, and the outcome is alike. Why can’t war be the human’s lowest common denominator – not something normal for humans (or maybe it is?)? (SVS)

Cause war helps define that little tidbit from Romans ‘no there is none that do good’. (SVS)

I have to highly doubt that was what God wanted for us…yet if we can make some lee-way for the war idea – how come it’s so hard to do it for another aspect of murder (even abortion)? Interesting huh. (SVS)

**I have given this even more thought, this idea will not die (or be murdered if you will) yet, but how do we distinguish between what happens in war and actual murder?

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7 thoughts on “Murder & War – Definitions at War

  1. I think we have to always define it as murder, but then decide if something is worth our taking on the title of murderer. For example, I believe wars that are initiated tend to be wrong, but not so much if it is defensive. I would never desire to murder. However, I know as a father, I would take the life of one who threatened my family. I would rather deal with a heavy conscience over taking life, than I would standing over the grave of a family member.

  2. I generally agree Andrew – the world is a pretty violent place (at times) – and we do run into situations that run counter to the life we lead (very limited times mind you – an example could be a home invasion). In some of those scenarios we run into situations where violence becomes part of the situation (or can be). But for me that is still a tough one – most criminals don’t want to hurt us (even in those violent situations) – but just want property or money – still…I see your point.

    For me there is a wrestling with the issue going on and I am not sure it will be adequately defined in words. I almost see living the Christian life as developing in us a safeguard against most of these violent scenario’s – but even this is no guarantee something bad won’t happen to us. And the question will always arise what to do in defense of our family in those rare instances? How much force? Which weapon? Etc. But I still think we need to teach an idea of non-violence and let what is rare instances – remain not the norm.

    I know the bloodthirst for revenge that occurs when someone you care about gets hurt badly by others – but sad to say – revenge is not a good answer. It’s a cycle that continues around and around and can lead to escalation from life to death pretty easy – namely based on anger. So for me this is a tough question to look into because of all the bloggers on here – I can be directly effected by it and I am aware of that reality – it’s a definite problem in my community. I grew up in this ‘violent world’ and got the opportunity to see what violence against another looks like (a lot) – and at no time did I ever feel comfortable watching or not feel sorry for the beaten party.

    Yet, I seem to be the one defending the stance of non-violence – because I have yet to see violence produce the desired effects we think it can. I look at Jesus’ teachings and see someone speaking about the dangers of anger – it can lead to wilfull murder. Now if we are willing to go as far as we do with the teaching on lust concerning the issue of anger – how would that look? Basically we wouldn’t even allow ourselves to be angry. Can we honestly say the army’s tactics in training are not there to make one ‘angry’?

  3. Hi society
    Quite a difficult subject but similar to a discussion on my site. I’m with you on the non-violence. But as Andrew said I would rather deal with a heavy conscience over taking life, than I would standing over the grave of a family member. There are lose-lose situations like war.

    Howard Zinn, the left-wing prof, was an air force pilot in WW2 bombing German towns. He realized what he was doing when his commander patted him on the back and told him he was doing an awesome job. Zinn thought “….yeah, of blowing people up I don’t even know!” So even when we are fighting a war of self-defense we murder.

    The lesson is that we can’t give a blank check to war either. But do we not stand in the way of the Third Reichs? Our eyes should be opened to what we are doing, and we should hate war, all war, and fight only when our survival is the target.

    When we go to war for any other reason than direct self-defense we are completely wrong. Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq are examples of a Christian nation not trusting in God.

  4. “Our eyes should be opened to what we are doing, and we should hate war, all war, and fight only when our survival is the target.” (Jim)

    Let’s hate war! I couldn’t agree more…I think it the resort some countries have to take – but it is something that should be avoided at all costs.

  5. Having read your previous post and this one, I cannot help but think of Paul’s approach to war.

    He said, “The weapons of our warfare are NOT carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God”

    Swords, spears, bombs…etc – are these carnal (fleshly) weapons?

    Christ was so explicit in His explanation that we are to turn the other cheek… that we are to love/pray for our enemies…

    For a New Covenant believer, there is absolutely no way to justify an act of war. And I’m not even talking about “preemptive” war– that should be a no-brainer.

    Of course, the typical response is, “wouldn’t you kill someone if he was going to kill your family?” Having never been in that situation, I cannot say. But from a scriptural standpoint, I would hope that I can trust in the wisdom, power and justice of God to defend me.

    There are more scriptures advocating trust in God than there are scriptures advocating violence. Then there all the references to peacemaking…etc.

    I just don’t get how a Christian can support the concept of war.

  6. “Yup. If there is more to taking a human’s life than I know at this point making it not ‘murder’ – explain away. Is not murder the killing of another human?” (SVS)

    Murder is the UNJUSTIFIED intentional killing of another human being. God lays out several situations of killing others in the bible that are not murder. In Exodus 22:2, God allows killing thieves for their attempted thievery, “If the thief is caught while breaking in, and is struck so that he dies, there will be no bloodguiltiness on his account.” War, if done in self defense in not murder either (Ecclesiastes says there is a time for war). Neither is capital punishment on account of any legitimate executioner(s). Accidents also have special circumstances in the bible.

    God does not view all life as valuable or as equally valuable. Those who do evil devalue their own lives. In the Exodus 22 verse, God views the value of the life of the thief as less than my TV and less than the value of His law protecting my private property, so if it is the case that the thief dies while attempting to destroy my stewardship of my own property, God is allowing of that. Good is greater than evil in God’s mind. There are a number of cases in the bible where it describes somebody as a worthless man.

    Now, I am not a promoter of war or violence to solve problems, but when the alternative is worse, then it is justifiable in God’s economy when it is according to His word.

  7. “I just don’t get how a Christian can support the concept of war.” (Jefe)

    I am in the same boat with that – since it would mean we have to change our versions of what the scripture actually teaches us (as even you point out in that Paul passage). I cannot find good reasons to concede war is a ‘good thing’ – which is always my bottom line on the issue – and if God is ‘good’ – and if war is seen as ‘good’ – God could very well be the author of war (which I find no proof for in the gospels/letters).

    “Murder is the UNJUSTIFIED intentional killing of another human being” (Steve)

    I would agree with the definition…but can any war promise this is what only will happen in it’s death throngs – justififed killings? Then where do we stop with the idea of justification – what’s the end of that definition? Is it just to kill someone for aborting babies? You see that’s where it all gets a little freakishly dicey – since someone could say it is justified since abortion = murder to them (and an unjust murder to boot). Saying murder is okay on any level will create problems.

    “God lays out several situations of killing others in the bible that are not murder.” (Steve)

    So there is degree’s to murder – like our court of laws also think? That’s how I read the Torah laws to be honest – as a court of law type system for the nation of Israel (that are also decided by the courts). In the example of the thief you give it reads like a court of law idea (and this is how they will handle/judge that situation). I would then have to ask, show me an example from the NT about the same idea being elaborated upon and explained in more depth. If it’s not there – then it’s not there – I would say end of story. Since Jesus (and others) seem to be addressing personal faith and our responsibilities – not court decisions done by nation-states or the judgements they make…if anything Jesus would appear to be asking us to ‘not kill the thief’ via the idea of ‘mercy as the highest level of judgment’.

    “Ecclesiastes says there is a time for war” (Steve)

    It also says there is time for all these things to: kill, tear down, throw stones, shun embracing, throw away, uproot what was planted, tear apart, and hate. Should I also feel alright with hating? KIlling (which is an outright breaking of a commandment)? Throwing stones at windows/cars? I mean, there seems to be a time for it. Or one could as easily say ‘these things happen and we know that’ – not that Solomon is saying to do them but they simply exist (like when Jesus says there will be wars and rumors of wars). War happens and always has – but so has human hard-headedness – it’s not something we think is ‘good’.

    “God does not view all life as valuable or as equally valuable” (Steve)

    Okay, so if we compare the thief story with the examples in the gospels about how God counts the hair on your head (very intricate) and will take care of you – is God double minded or something? Even later on in Matthew 5 we see God cares for both the unrighteous and righteous – makes no dividing line there – and then Jesus calls it perfection (the highest ideal). But God values some life, just not all? Define the some He likes and the some He might dis-like?

    “Those who do evil devalue their own lives” (Steve)

    I don’t disagree here – but I would say in the ‘eye of the law’ this is true – but not in the ‘eye of God’. Cause if we go down that slippery slope of thinking – we might soon be questioning if God even likes us? I know a lot of people that have broken the 10 commandments – am I to believe they deserve death and God does not like them anymore (ex: adultery)? Can we win God’s favor back somehow after a wrong?

    “Good is greater than evil in God’s mind. There are a number of cases in the bible where it describes somebody as a worthless man.” (Steve)

    I am not saying this does not happen, I know for a fact it does, but on what level…Worthless to others by virtue of their actions against them and worthless to God also by virtue? If I had this attitude I would definitely be short one brother, a few friends, and possibly the lone surviving parent I have. But this is not the case, mercy kicked in, even for the merciless (and forgiveness for those in their sins still – because God loves them also). I have a tough time swallowing that idea of God and where it can lead to.

    “then it is justifiable in God’s economy when it is according to His word.” (Steve)

    As I have mentioned as nauseam – nowhere in Jesus’ teachings do we even find a sniff of the justification of war and murder – in really any circumstances (even unto death). The only death we find in the gospels or letters is that of ‘dying to ourselves’ and the ‘cross’ idea – not us nailing another to a cross (apparently that’s not the Jesus version of way, truth, or life we read about).

    I believe the law in each country exists to deal with problems regarding murder and criminal acts (as God has allowed to be set up) – and we need to respect that part of the law (since we are also subject to it and it’s for our own safety). For me, war falls into that great grey area of life – sometimes it seems justified (ex: WW2) and sometimes not justified (ex: Vietnam) – but then we get into the law policing itself and this is also part of the real problem (since that is not very responsible) – they define a ‘just’ cause (not me and you and whomever else).

    Yet we have to swallow whatever they say is ‘just’ and their ‘justifications they provide’. I think once we say war is ‘acceptable’ – then we play into the idea gov’t is justified in any action of war they take – since we already slipped to a vote of ‘yes’ – which might very well ruin our judgment on the issue. If we come from the opposite camp – where war is never ‘good’ – we will ask those questions of our gov’t about what they are fighting for and against and alternative routes – not giving them our support for any old thing they do. I see this as the Christian stance since nowhere in our gospels and letters are we given the ‘okay’ for any effort of war. Even Revelations – which some see as a heavy war type book – says to ‘love not our lives even UNTO DEATH”.

    I just can’t find it in our scriptures – so that’s where I start from. Now maybe some things will happen that are out of our personal control – like a home invasion at gunpoint – and sh*t gets all crazy – yeah someone might pay for that with their lives and we are the one that pulls the trigger. But should we turn around and justify our actions or mourn for the loss of even that life? Which is the higher road there even afterwards? Why can’t we still hold to the idea we did something that was not ‘good’ and yet not feel ‘condemned’ about it? Makes sense to me.

    As for war, I am not sure I can find the ‘good’ Christian stance in that one. First we are trained to kill others and this is of primary importance to winning any battle in a war. Basically the army thinks it is okay to take human life for the sake of it’s objectives…and if you question those objectives in the army – you can be subject to dismissal (dishonorable discharge). So you have to kill (unless your medic, priest, or some type of mechanic) and that’s your goal…I ask quite simply – can that harmonized in any way, shape, or form with our teachings? I say ‘no’.

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