Many people argue that the Bible says, “Thou shalt not murder”. Yet, God says to Joshua, “Go in and clean house, and don’t leave anything breathing! Don’t leave a donkey, child, woman, old man, or old woman breathing. Wipeout Jericho.”
While the Mosaic Law commands that they should not murder, it doesn’t mean that they should not kill their pagan enemies. It is in the culture of the Israelites then to wipe out their territorial enemies, from young to old, which many people in the next generation would never understand. The original Hebrew text is “You shall not murder” (Ex. 20:13) which is significantly different from “You shall not kill”. The misinformation lies in the difference between murder and killing. Many democratic countries define murder as one attended by either treachery, premeditation, abuse of superior strength, for a reward (killing for hire), during times of calamities or epidemic when the same are taken advantage of, with cruelty or through inhumane ways, to name a few. In the same manner, countries have legalized governmental action to take another’s life when a person has committed a crime, thereby death being a punishment, or when a person’s actions are and will be detrimental to society, causing harm and damage to the lives of innocent people. Taking another person’s life is also allowed as part of self-defense in order to preserve one’s God-given life and liberty.
In the past, many will not understand how the country allowed death penalty by electrocution during the 1960s & 70s. The youngest convict sentenced to death by electrocution was a sixteen-year-old boy nicknamed “Baby Ama.” who got the moniker because he was baby-faced. Years later, people put pressure on the government to abolish the practice of using the electric chair as a means of execution, replacing it with life imprisonment. Past and present cultures dealing with criminals and enemies of the state differently. And while we know that God is over our culture, He can move through every generation’s culture to fulfill His sovereign will. Unfortunately, many people shrug off the issue of abortion, which is an ongoing murder of millions of babies worldwide; babies who deserve to be cared for and loved and yet are not given a chance at life.
Is it, therefore, wrong to execute people? Jesus never argued against His crucifixion. He went through it despite the unfair and baseless trial. He was arrested at night, without any warrant. The trial was also done immediately right after His arrest– concluded in one day — with the charges unproven and yet He was found guilty. Worse, the religious personalities who conducted the trial of Jesus were not in the position nor had any authority to interrogate nor try Him. Even the place of sentencing, more so the sentence itself, was not that which was demanded for by law. If this happened to Jesus, who did not even attempt to speak against these illegalities, then we cannot always guarantee fair and balanced justice in this world. This does not, in any way, mean that people should muzzle their mouths and not speak against their unjust situations. But remember, Jesus went through his trial alone because his disciples abandoned Him. And while there was no way for Him to win the unfair trial in His humanity, he left everything in the hands of the sovereign Father.
At present, many people feel that the Anti-Terror Law is a window of possible abuse in the hands of government authorities. This can be true and people should be able to freely express what they think about this law, especially when it threatens their freedom. For Christians, such expression of protest must be within the bounds of what it means to be a Christian and within the bounds of law. Aside from praying, there can be prayer rallies and non-violent gatherings, provided there are proper permits from the government. Believers working in media can report things that are happening in their nation with honesty and integrity, continually showing respect for government leaders, and being extra cautious with their words to avoid any legal consequences. Upholding the truth and protecting humanity is still being salt and light. However, believers should do everything within the bounds of the law, not above it nor by going around it, and then leave everything in the hands of God. However, if government leaders assure their constituents that the law will not be abused, then people need to trust God for their leaders. At the end of the day, the Lord knows how to expose the wrong motives of people, and we can trust the Lord to place leaders in position and even depose them (see Dan. 2:21).
Additional Biblical Reference
Every person should obey the government in power. No government would exist if it hadn’t been established by God. The governments which exist have been put in place by God. Therefore, whoever resists the government opposes what God has established. Those who resist will bring punishment on themselves. People who do what is right don’t have to be afraid of the government. But people who do what is wrong should be afraid of it. Would you like to live without being afraid of the government? Do what is right, and it will praise you. The government is God’s servant working for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid. The government has the right to carry out the death sentence. It is God’s servant, an avenger to execute God’s anger on anyone who does what is wrong. Therefore, it is necessary for you to obey, not only because you’re afraid of God’s anger but also because of your own conscience. – Romans 13:1-5, God’s Word