How You Most Often Break the 5th Commandment

Jason Micheli —  August 8, 2014 — 3 Comments

ADIP-465_copy__14891_zoomTo all those who greet the headlines of innocents killed in Palestine and Christians murdered in Iraq with a collective yawn, the late Dominican philosopher Herbert McCabe has this caution:

You’re breaking the 5th commandment.

‘Thou shalt not kill.’ timothy-radcliffe

‘The rest of the ten commandments are a kind of definition of the idolatrous society out of which we are called by Yahweh. You shall not kill: the idolatrous society is the society of violence. The word used here is not quite the same as the English word ‘kill.’

Hebrew has special words which are normally used for killing in battle and for putting a man to death. It’s not these that are in question here. Nor, however, can we translate it by the word murder, for the word is used to cover accidental killing too.

The commandment ‘you shall not kill’ then says not merely that you must not actually murder, but that you must CARE that people get killed.

You must not be indifferent to blood.

You must not carry on the traditional respectable life, absorbed in the worship of your gods, while throughout the world people are being killed by the horrible pain of hunger and the diseases that go with it or as the ‘collateral damage’ of war.

Jason Micheli


3 responses to How You Most Often Break the 5th Commandment

  1. Excellent

  2. Your “10 Commandments” sound like what I encountered when I was serving in the ELCA, but the list as I learned it growing up in the (then) Methodist Episcopal Church has “Honor Thy Father and Mother” as the 5th commandment and “Thou Shalt Not Kill” as the 6th.

  3. Oh, and I didn’t mean that comment as a negative critique of the point I understand you to be making. It was just something I tend to take note of because of my experience. Your actual point is very well taken.

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