“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14-15
Christians have been forgiven an immeasurable debt, our sin against the infinitely worthy Lord. We are therefore bound to forgive all lesser offenses against us, which are all other offenses. This is the rational response to the gospel.
So here is the question: If a Christian is required to forgive when offended, may he ever support the killing of another human being? May he do the killing?
The only way to answer this question rightly is to turn to Scripture.
Killing is not only allowed in Scripture, it is actually required by God in certain instances, for righteousness sake.
“And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.” Genesis 9:5-6
When a man is murdered, the murderer’s life is forfeit. God requires the execution of the murderer, as is explicitly stated in verse 5.
At this point, maybe an objector will say, “Yeah, but that is just an Old Testament thing, right?”
Wrong. This requirement is not unique to the Mosaic Covenant, which has been fulfilled and has given way to the New Covenant. Rather, God explicitly grounds this requirement in his covenant with Adam, the covenant of creation, wherein he made man in his image, to represent his rule in this world by faith and obedience. Even after the fall of man into sin, this covenant remains, as is made clear in its reaffirmation to Noah. All men are made in the image of God, across time, across geography, and across culture. There is nowhere one can go on this earth and find a human who isn’t an image bearer of the Creator.
It is in his being made in the image of God that man finds his unique worth in the created order. Man is more important than any mountain, ocean, tree, or animal. It is because of his being in the image of God that to kill him unjustifiably, whether the killer be bengal tiger or nefarious neighbor, is to forfeit one’s life.
If a tiger starts hunting villagers, for righteousness sake men in that village must band together and hunt the tiger down. All the better if they celebrate by grilling tiger steaks and making a rug from his fur. To excuse its behavior with some flippant comment like, “That’s just what tigers do”, is to assume oneself to be wiser than God.
If a man kills a baby for pleasure or convenience, for righteousness sake he must be executed following due process.
For a Christian to oppose this killing, capital punishment for murderous man or beast, is for a Christian to oppose God. And that is just a stupid thing to do, to say the least.
It is here, in Genesis 9, that we find God establishing the institution of government, authorizing, yea, charging, the wielding of the sword against the wrongdoer.
This violent responsibility of the government is written of by Paul in 1 Peter 2:13-14: “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.”
Christians, then, are clearly to support the government’s executing of homicidal hooded riders in the KKK. And Christians are to support the use of military force in national defense against foreign attack.
So let’s look at a case study to see these principles played out. On 9/11, America was attacked as part of a centuries long jihad against non-Muslims, and particularly against Western civilization. This attack was carried out by the agents of Al-Qaeda, an organization led by Osama Bin Laden for the purpose of furthering Islam’s Satanic jihad. Thousands of civilians were killed. In response, the United States initiated a hunt for Bin Laden and declared war against the Taliban, the Afghan government which had harbored Al-Qaeda. While the conflict with the Taliban is yet to be resolved, Bin Laden was eventually killed in his Pakistani bedroom by Navy SEALs.
How should a Christian analyze this in light of the passages considered above?
- The war against the Taliban and the hunt for Bin Laden both served the cause of righteousness. In fact, if killing Bin Laden was in the power of the U.S. government, then his killing was Biblically required.
- Therefore, the revealed will of God was accomplished as Bin Laden died in his bedroom. And so, because God’s revealed will was accomplished, and justice, and honor, and goodness were demonstrated, and evil was terrorized, Christians should be pleased with the event.
- The pleasure of the Christian following Bin Laden’s death ought not to have flowed from a heart of bitterness, for bitterness is prohibited to the Christian, having no room in a heart ruled by forgiveness. The Christian’s pleasure must be directly, consciously connected to the list in point 2. And he must desire even terrorists to repent and receive salvation from Christ before it is too late.
- A Christian may himself be an executioner, and could have been the SEAL to lethally pull the trigger in Bin Laden’s home, for in so doing he would have acted as a deputized agent of the government, and so acted with legitimate authority.
Now, what if you are a Christian husband and father living in Western Iraq, and not a policeman or soldier? You find the region in which you dwell teeming with Mohammedans under the black ISIS flag. You have seen with your own eyes what they do with those who refuse to pledge allegiance to their rule. Stories have emerged from the last town through which their horde marched, of men crucified and women mutilated or made slaves. All avenues of escape for your family have been cut off. Can you maintain conformity to the will of God and take up arms against these demons?
Not only can you take up arms, but you must. In that situation or one like it, the Christian man must do whatever is necessary to protect his family from physical threat. If he can’t extract them, he must stand between them and the threat, the more powerful his armaments the better, and be willing to die that they might live. This is the man’s charge from the garden, to lead, provide, and protect, unto death. Adam failed to do this when he discovered the dragon’s deceitful attack against Eve. Instead of fighting the dragon, he was complicit. It is in the second Adam, King Jesus, that we see the right action to be taken when dragons assault our beloved. They must be slain, even if our own death is required to that end.
So, we have our answer. Christian, oppose all unjustifiable killing, even if you must take up arms to do so. Support all righteous kills and holy shots, the executions of murderers, animal or man, and military opposition to foreign invaders who come not attended by Lady Justice. And do this without a heart of bitterness, for you were an enemy of God, yet have been forgiven in Christ. Serve the cause of justice while wishing for the repentance of your foes, their conversion to Christ.