'Thou Shalt Not Kill' or 'Shalt Thou'?

We're often told that the Bible is open to interpretation. Well, I guess fundamentalists would say it wasn’t. For them the Bible is the literal word of God. So, no argument, no discussion. Well, let’s put the fundamentalist view to one side for a moment and concentrate on the ‘open to interpretation’ side of the debate. This is much more interesting, to the casual observer like me, than the blinkered, all-non-believers-will-burn-in-hell version, and at least allows some scope for discussion.

So let's discuss...

There are so many contradictions in the Bible it’s enough to make your head spin. Here are a few:

JOH 10:30 I and my Father are one.
JOH 14:28 Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.

EXO 15:3 The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is his name.
ROM 15:33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

PSA 145:9 The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.
JER 13:14 And I will dash them one against another, even the fathers and the sons together, saith the Lord: I will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, but destroy them.

Anyone who is a believer must surely struggle with working out how to reconcile it all.

But I’m interested in one declaration that is often given a great deal of weight. A very simple one and one which, I would argue, cannot be misinterpreted.

As we all know Moses came down from the mountain top, with the Ten Commandments. Amongst that ten was the commandment: ‘Thou shalt not kill’. That’s clear enough, eh? Thou shalt not kill...

So my question is: how can anyone claiming to be a Christian ever go to war, sanction war or believe in war? I repeat, the commandment says: ‘Thou shalt not kill’. Yet there have been Christians down the ages who have murdered each other and non-believers by the millions. For example, George Bush and Tony Blair – self-confessed Christians both – are responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people in Iraq and Afghanistan. What happened? Their god tells them not to kill, yet off they go on a bloody crusade (and yes, in Bush’s case actually calling it a ‘crusade’) at the expense of thousands of innocent lives.

Oh, I’ve heard the ‘just war’ argument, you know... it’s okay to zap someone if they are evil, etc. Well, it doesn’t wash. I mean, there’s no sub clause in ‘Thou shalt not kill’. No small print at the bottom of the stone tablet declaring it permissible to, er, actually kill, in certain circumstances? Is there?

Nah, I can’t be doing with it. These people are the ones who should be preparing themselves for eternal torment, or whatever it is they believe happens to bad people when they die. Instead George Bush retires to his ranch a free man and Tony Blair is made ‘peace envoy’ to the Middle East! The contradictions just keep coming...

May their god forgive them.