A Time to Kill

Text: Ecclesiastes 3:3

The question came up the other day at breakfast about whether or not it is right to condemn a murderer to death and have the state take his life.  Then the shooting at the church happened last week and the issue of private property and protection came up.  At hand is the question, is it ever right to kill?

Many people object to capital punishment, self-defense, and combat killing. They will often cite the sixth commandment, thou shalt not kill, as their basis for rejecting the death penalty and a person’s right to defend themselves and their property.

Capital Punishment

  • The first law Noah is given off the boat is life for life in Genesis 9:6.
  • Under Israel’s law, capital punishment was expanded and commanded for murder (Numbers 35:31-31), for a stubborn and rebellious child (Deuteronomy 21:18-21), for a witch (Exodus 22:18), for bestiality (Exodus 22:19), for homosexuality (Leviticus 20:13), for prostitution (Deuteronomy 22:21), for adultery (Deuteronomy 22:22,25), and some others.  You get the idea.
  • You might say that is Old Testament and we’re not under the law.  If you’re in Jesus Christ that’s true, but capital punishment was not abolished in Jesus Christ.  Paul said in his own defense, if I be an offender or have done anything worthy of death, I refuse not to die (Acts 25:11). In Romans 1:29-31, Paul concludes the list of sins with, they which commit such things are worthy of death. In Romans 13, he shows us that governing powers are ordained of God and have the command to use the sword to execute evildoers (Romans 13:1-4).

Self Defense

  • The Lord specifically instructed the disciples to defend themselves with swords. At first, the disciples were sent out with no money and with just the clothes on their backs (Luke 22:35), and they were given everything they needed along the way. However, at the end of Jesus’ ministry, the disciples were told to carry money on their future trips and to carry a sword (Luke 22:36). The sword was so important, that Jesus told them to sell a garment if they didn’t have the money to buy one.
  • J Frank Norris
    • The mayor faced a ferocious backlash from the public, and he turned to his friend, local lumber king Dexter Eliot Chipps, to vent his frustration. Furious, D.E. Chipps—a man who could put away the booze and who was known for his quick temper—went to see Norris.  What happened next was widely debated. Norris and Chipps had words. Threats were exchanged. Chipps turned to leave. Then he turned and went back in the room. Did he return to attack Norris or just to issue some more insults? Either way, Norris pulled a .38 out of his desk and shot Chipps three times.  The resulting trial was a national sensation. Norris wasn’t simply a preacher, he was a religious kingpin, a man with a radio show, his own newspaper, and the biggest church in America. Imagine Joel Olsteen gunning someone down in his office. Eventually, though, Norris was acquitted of murder on the grounds that he had shot Chipps in self-defense.
  • So, Jesus was continuing the Old Testament protection afforded property owners. In Exodus 22:2, it was legal for a property owner to kill a thief without suffering any legal consequences for killing him.
  • Matthew 20:13

Military Action

  • This falls under Romans 13 for soldiers, police, as they are all deputized by the state.
  • There is so much war in the Bible from beginning to end.
  • God talks about the Christian life as warfare.