“You shall not murder.” (Exodus 20:13)
This commandment probably is the widest accepted moral standard worldwide. Most people agree that it is not okay to murder — although more than 400,000 people die from homicide each year, which is around three times the number killed in armed conflict and terrorism combined.
The Bible differentiates between murder and accidental killing. In the latter case, the killer could not be prosecuted. The same goes for battles where people are slain, or defending yourself when you are being attacked. The commandment not to murder is only about intentional and unlawful killing.
The reason for not murdering, lies in the fact that humans are created in God’s image, which makes them fundamentally different from animals. Humans are God’s masterpiece of creation. He has “intricately woven” us in our mother’s womb, so Psalm 139:15. Every individual is precious in God’s eyes. Every human life is worth protecting, irrespective of physical fitness, race, social status, age or other factors.
Jesus takes this commandment one step further when He says that it is not just about killing somebody. We shall not even hate and insult others, but are commanded to love other people the same as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39).
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