Preaching through the Ten Commandments, our pastor came to the 6th.  One of things I found fascinating is that there are quite a number of words for "kill" in Hebrew, and the King James translation doesn’t do much to get across this particular word.

Lo ratzach; don’t murder.

There is a word in Hebrew for killing an animal.  This is not that word.  You can be a vegetarian or vegan if you like, but you can’t use this verse as Biblical backup for your position.  (Actually, the Bible has a number of references showing that God’s OK with meat-eating.)

There is a word in Hebrew for killing in battle.  This is not that word.  You can be a pacifist if you like, but you can’t use this verse as Biblical backup for your position.  (Actually, the Bible has a number of references where God commands his people to make war on those God wishes to punish.)

There is a word in Hebrew for killing in self-defense or defense of another.  This is not that word.  You can be a police officer and kill someone in the line of duty while protecting yourself or others and you will not have broken this commandment.  You can protect an intruder with deadly force, and not be guilty of breaking this commandment. 

There is a word in Hebrew for the purposeful taking of an innocent life.  This is that word. 

When Jesus showed up, he augmented this, not by using other words for "kill", but by including the person’s worth and character as something that should not be killed, not just the physical body.

"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell."

In the Hebrew culture, they often emphasized a positive by saying it in the negative.  "Don’t murder", then, was an expression of the value and sanctity of life.  Unfortunately, as Pope John Paul II first noted, ours is a "culture of death". 

We have become desensitized to death.  This includes many a TV show with graphic depictions of death.  (Pastor Fred noted that Quincy, the first forensic doctor on TV, still had engaging stories in which someone had died, but not with the re-enactments in all it’s gory detail.)  But it also includes becoming used to the idea of 1+ million abortions every year.  And there’s no more innocent a life than that.  But it has been elevated to a pseudo-right in our world. 

Part of this is because the church has become a sub-culture in our society rather than its proper role as a counter-culture.  A sub-culture could be quilters, motorcycle riders or what have you.  A sub-culture is basically harmless.  Mostly, it’s folks doing what they like and not bothering anyone else.  A counter-culture is confrontational.  Salt in meat and light in the darkness don’t go along to get along; they confront decay and lies. 

A sub-culture exists for itself.  Quilters quilt, and enjoy each other’s company.  Motorcyclists enjoy the wind in their hair and the open road.  Either way, they’re not necessarily out to bring anybody in.  Sure, they’re more than happy to let you know that they’re out there, and if you want to join they’d love to have you, but if you don’t, you don’t.  No big deal.  However, a counter-culture is missional. It is there to get the word out and change some minds.  Something’s wrong and it needs to be made right. 

A sub-culture, by and large, has no outward effects.  They do what they do with or without changing their environment.  A counter-culture is transformational.  They are there to fundamentally change that which surrounds them.

When the church goes from being counter-culture to just another sub-culture, it goes into decline, because

"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men."

Salt and light change their surroundings.  If the church doesn’t do that in this culture of death, it will just get trampled as the world walks over them and moves on.

Filed under: AbortionChristianityCultureDougReligion

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