Thursday, August 07, 2008

You Shall Not Murder

"You shall not murder" (Exodus 20:13).

A few years ago, I learned a method of developing a richer understanding of negative biblical commandments. For example, what is at the heart of God's negative commandment against murder? By approaching the prohibition from a positive perspective, we can discern more of the intentions of God when he gave the commandment. You shall not murder becomes You shall protect the lives of innocent people.

As God built upon the prohibition against murder, he legislated against hitting a pregnant woman in order to protect her life and her child's life (Exodus 21:22-25). He prohibited anyone from allowing his violent animal to roam unrestrained so that it would not kill an innocent person (Exodus 21:28-32). He even ordered his people to build guardrails around the roofs of their houses so that people would not fall to their deaths (Deuteronomy 22:8). In many ways, the Lord designed legislation to protect the lives of innocent people.

So how can we apply the commandment against murder today? How can we protect the lives of innocent people? If we own violent dogs, we must keep them away from people at all costs, even if it means euthanizing the animals. If we own swimming pools, we need to build fences around them so that small children cannot wander into them and drown.

I heard about a creative and effective way of protecting the lives of innocent people a few months ago. A husband and wife wanted to adopt a baby. Every weekend, they stood outside an abortion clinic, handing out business cards with their phone numbers printed on them. Each card stated that they wanted to adopt a baby. Finally, after approaching dozens of girls and young women over a period of several weeks, they were able to arrange for the adoption of their child. This couple protected the life of at least one innocent person: their child.

When we dig deeply into the 10 commandments, we can see the heart of God. When we approach the commandments with a positive attitude and a little creativity, we can change our world.

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