Love Letter #6 says: “Thou shalt not kill.”¹ In other words, “you shall not murder.” Despite this admonition from God, the frequency of murder is so rampant that you and I have now become desensitized to this subject and accustomed to hearing about killings on the 6 o’clock news. In 2015 alone, the latest year for recorded murders in the United States, “there were a total of 15,696 reported murders and non-negligent manslaughter cases in the United States.”² Moreover, according to the World Health Organization, “On an average day (worldwide), 1,424 people are killed in acts of homicide (almost one person every minute); roughly, one person commits suicide every 40 seconds; and about 35 people are killed every hour as a direct result of armed conflict.³
The aforementioned demonstrates the culture of violence and killing around the world. This is not just in real life, but also in the life of fantasy and make-believe. In fact, if we don’t see a murder in a movie, the movie is boring. Moreover, the ratings of our movies are determined by how much violence there is. In music, the arts, and video games, killing has become a kind of entertainment because our world has a craving for it. When you consider this, it makes you wonder if Love Letter #6 has gotten lost in the midst of all this hysteria. And so, in a culture of killing, do we still hear God’s voice saying, “Thou shalt not kill” ?
Yet, every killing hasn’t been with a gun, knife, shotgun, bomb, or tank. If we expand our understanding of this commandment, it extends beyond the palpable perception of murder. For example, who has been killing someone with his or her tongue? With his or her speech? With treacherous gossip? As followers of the Love Letters, we’re quick to say if someone has gods, other than God. We’ll rebuke someone for taking the name of the Lord in vain. We’ll stress the importance of God’s Sabbath observance. We’ll look with a jaundiced eye if one doesn’t honor and respect one’s parents. What about killing someone with your tongue? What about killing someone’s character and reputation with your words? The Bible is clear, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”4
Let’s go a step further and not limit our understanding of killing to the taking one’s life, or killing another with conversation, but let’s also include killing one’s own body with the injurious intake of harmful foods and drinks. In short, many people are killing themselves by what they put in their bodies. We’re cautioned in scripture, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God! Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.”5
The words, “Thou shalt not kill,” are also applicable to alcohol, wine, and strong drinks. “Wine is a mocker. Strong drink is raging. And whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise!”6 If not here on this earth, persistent use of these drinks will result in eternal death. “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”7
Nevertheless, “Thou shalt not kill” is also related to the eating of unclean foods, specifically unclean meats. Leviticus 11 explicitly outlines those animals that are clean versus those that are unclean. Those who persist in eating unclean meats will burn when Jesus comes. “For, behold, the Lord will come with fire, and with His chariots like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by His sword will the Lord plead with all flesh and the slain of the Lord shall be many. They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine’s flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the Lord.”8
This love letter from the Lord succinctly says, “Thou shalt not kill!” Don’t kill physically! Don’t kill with your tongue! Don’t kill with what you put in your body! “Thou shalt not kill!” And because I love Jesus, and I desire to love Him in the way He wants to be loved. I will not kill.
CARLTON P. BYRD, D.MIN., is Senior Pastor of the Oakwood University Church in Huntsville, Alabama and the speaker and director for Breath of Life Television Ministries.
*All scriptural texts are taken from the King James Version unless otherwise indicated.
1 Exodus 20:13
4 Proverbs 18:21
5 First Corinthians 10:31 and 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17
6 Proverbs 20:1
7 Galatians 5:19-21
8 Isaiah 66:15-17