R2K … “Rubber meets Road”

Recently Dr. Mike Horton, in May wrote a piece that can be found here


Elsewhere Horton has written here,


In that piece you can find these quotes,

“Although a contractual relationship denies God’s will for human dignity, I could affirm domestic partnerships as a way of protecting people’s legal and economic security.”

“The challenge there is that two Christians who hold the same beliefs about marriage as Christians may appeal to neighbor-love to support or to oppose legalization of same-sex marriage.”

Dr. Mike Horton

Dr. Horton, having been queried about this statement he made in May, has recently spoken. I intend to respond here to his recent statements.

Recently Horton wrote,

(1) “I wrote several posts on same-sex marriage, arguing that because monogamous-heterosexual marriage is rooted in creation (not redemption), Christians should not treat it as merely imposing our distinctively Christian beliefs and values on society. (2) We may lose, but the church can’t surrender its witness to God’s unchanging law. (3)Thus, neighbor-love entails support for traditional marriages and family structures. (4) At the same time, I argued that there are complicated legal and policy questions over which Christians (who hold this same view) may legitimately differ. (5) One example is domestic partnerships, which I neither affirmed nor rejected. (6) My only goal there was to say that there is nothing that the gay movement can win by same-sex marriage that it doesn’t already have with domestic partnerships. (7) If they can have the latter, why do they need the former? (8) It seems to me that the only real purpose in pressing for marriage is moral: namely, to place homosexual relationships on a par with heterosexual marriage: this we cannot allow, even if it involves the coercive power of the state (via our participation in the democratic process).

(9) Also, Christianity Today asked me to provide a response to an interview in The Atlantic with the head of Exodus International, who seemed to suggest that one could be an active homosexual and a member in good standing of a church. (10) Of course, I disagreed. (11) In response to this and those other posts, I’ve received criticism from evangelicals (and others) who thought I was too hard-line on the issue. (12) So this one is a first. (13) Until this one, I haven’t seen any responses that see any of the dangers that Mr. Maurina raised here.”

In Christ,


Before getting into the entrails of these comments by Dr. Horton we should note here that as Dr. Horton does not believe that such a thing as Christian culture even exists or can exist, Dr. Horton does not believe that we can do anything to make a culture more Christian. Dr. Horton believes Christians do exist but he does not believe Christian culture exists. That observation is key in unraveling what Dr. Horton is saying here.

(1) — A.) If “monogamous-heterosexual marriage is rooted in creation (not redemption)” then why should marriages be conducted by Clergy? The R2K crowd, of whom Dr. Horton is a member, have said in the past that the Clergy has no business giving a invocation at a City Council meeting, or in being an official participant as a Clergy member at political events precisely because these kinds of events are rooted in creation and not redemption. So, if Clergy are not to be involved in events that are rooted in creation then for centuries Clergy have been violating Scripture because they have been officiating at and praying at Wedding ceremonies which are rooted in creation.

(1) — B.) If marriage is rooted in creation and not redemption and if culture can not be Christian then how is it possible to impose our distinctively Christian beliefs and values on society? Society is a reality that is rooted in Creation and so all it can ever be, regardless of what religion’s beliefs and values are imposed upon it is common. According to R2K it is possible to have Christians living in society, however it is not possible for Christians to impose their Christianity on something (society) that by definition can not be Christian no matter what.

(2) — But Dr. Horton does not believe that God’s unchanging law applies to the public square. It applies to individuals but it most certainly does not apply to the public square.

Now, it is possible when Dr. Horton talks about God’s unchanging law he is not talking about God revealed law in Scripture but rather he is speaking of God’s natural law. However, as he invokes the “Church” in (2) one is tempted to think he is referring to the Scriptures. With R2K it is hard to know what law is being referred to when statements are made about “God’s unchanging law.”

(3) — “Thus, neighbor-love entails support for traditional marriages and family structures.”

Except when we don’t. Read on.

(4) – (5) “Neither affirmed or rejected.”

Mike has said he neither affirms nor rejects domestic partnerships but he does affirm that Christians could affirm domestic partnerships and be within the orbit of Christian orthodoxy. Mike does not affirm them but he does affirm the affirmers. This is the real sticky wicket in Mike’s pronouncements. Mike, is suggesting that Christians could very well support domestic partnerships of one variety or another. If Christians were to do this, and as Mike is saying, they well could do this and remain orthodox, then that calls Mike’s (3) statement into serious question.

(6) – (8) — We agree with Mike except I do not think that the goal of the sodomite lobby is not to put sodomite marriage on part with Heterosexual marriage but the LGBT goal is to normalize sodomite marriage while abnormalizing heterosexual marriage.

(9) – (13) — We pass on.

Another missive from Dr. Horton was later forthcoming,

(1) “Being open to affirming a civil arrangement that allows partners inheritance, insurance, and other economic benefits, is NOT being open to same-sex relationships!!! (2) My point was to say that the gay lobby is not really interested in equal rights, but in equal affirmation of gay and heterosexual marriage. (3) So Christians should NOT treat the marriage debate as if it were equivalent to civil rights. (4) Some Christians do argue that we should allow a pagan state to honor “life commitments” regardless of marriage, but to argue that this should be called MARRIAGE is ultimately not a question of civil rights but of the meaning of marriage itself.

(5) I cannot help the fact that some have apparently overlooked the distinction I’ve made—and the fact that it’s part of an argument AGAINST gay marriage. (6) I can only hope that people would not spread false impressions based on where they think it will lead rather than what I actually argued.

In Christ,

Mike Horton

(1) — This sentence is a study in contradiction.

I think the famous R2K dualism is playing in here.

Mike has no problem with the legal infrastructure being set up by the Government. Mike has no problem with the objective legislation being put into place. However, Mike does have a problem if two people actually start engaging in the sodomite behavior that the legal infrastructure supports and honors.

So, his dualism allows the public structures but not the private behaviors. This is classic R2K speak. Having divided the world into the common and grace realm and having said that the Church may not make pronouncements on what the State does in the common realm, though retaining the right to speak with God’s voice regarding individual personal sin, the R2K thinker can posit a position where the public infrastructure for Sodomite behavior is legalized while insisting at the same time that they are not being open to same-sex relationships. Such a position only makes sense in a R2K Alice in Wonderland World. It’s like saying that while one is open to setting up the infrastructure for abortion in terms of abortion doctors, fetus removal systems, abortuaries, legal protection, etc. one is not, by doing so, communicating an openness to the act of abortion.

In fairness to the Doctor from Westminster Seminary Ca. it is possible that he is saying that while the act of sodomy is sinful the Church has no business to suggest that it is criminal and therefore Christians could very well support domestic unions as sanctioned by the Civil Magistrate. So, in such a scenario Christians could be Christian and support the non-Criminality of domestic partnership in theory while opposing the sin of sodomy itself. The problem here is that God has criminalized sodomy but Dr. Horton doesn’t believe that God’s unchanging law is unchanging on this point and so we are where we are.

(4) — We must keep in mind the distinction between Defacto realities and Dejure realities. Legalized domestic partnerships are defacto Marriage even if not Dejure marriage. Which is to say that they are marriage in all but title. Christians who support domestic unions are supporting defacto sodomite marriage even if opposing dejure sodomite marriage. At this point, it is all about semantics.

(5) – (6) — Dr. Horton has no one but himself to blame for people misunderstanding him. If other Christians do not think in a dualistic R2K worldview you can not fault them for interpreting R2K words through a non dualistic grid.

The New Proletariat & The Obama Presidency

The question of who would be the chosen people to destroy the old world was answered by Marx as “the proletariat.” However, Herbert Marcuse complained that “the proletariat (working class) had become a support for the system,” and Jean Paul Sartre observed, “what is a proletariat if it is not revolutionary? And it is, indeed, not Revolutionary.” In light of the “compromise” of the former proletariat Marcuse advocated reconstituting the proletariat in a different direction. Instead of depending on the working class to be the “revolutionary bringing shock troops” a different proletariat would be formed that would be comprised of disenchanted minorities, filled with Marxist envy, having been convinced that the Christian WASP bourgeoisie had done them wrong. This core minority proletariat would be joined by students, academia, feminists, and the pervert class to form the new proletariat that would take down the remnants of the old Christian order. This group of people (most of them no more than useful idiots) will be those used by the cultural Marxists to accomplish their long march through the institutions.

It is this new proletariat that Obama is trying to form into a coalition that can propel him to election in 2012. The deception of 2008 will not work again and so Obama has forsaken the white middle working class completely and is seeking to ride the new proletariat to power. You see this new proletariat at every turn. On MSNBC you see it in guys like Joe Williams, Martin Bahsir, Tour’e and Melissa Harris,


Indeed MSNBC should be viewed with the understanding that it is the informational water carrier for the “anti-Christian new Proletariat.

The current Obama administration can not be understood apart from this filter. From Eric Holder’s decision to not prosecute the new Black Panthers for voter intimidation, to the gun running of “Fast and Furious,” to Obama’s early indicting of the “Cambridge cops who acted stupidly,” to Obama’s comments that “If I had a son he would look like Trayvon Martin,” to the usage of ACORN as a political vehicle, to the Obama administrations taking Arizona to court for their immigration policies, to Obama granting amnesty to about 1 million illegal aliens, to the passage of Obama-care, to Obama appointing the “wise Latina” Sotomayor and the Lesbian Kagan to the SCOTUS, all of this is about empowering the new proletariat to overthrow the remnants of WASP culture and people. In point of fact the citizen who can not or will not understand the dynamic of the new proletariat in this country will not and can not understand the Obama Presidency.

Through The Centuries, From The Greeks & The Incas, To Today, Wherever You Find Socialism You Find,

Throughout history where ever you find Socialism, there you find at least these four phenomenon.

1.) Abolition of Private Property

This includes not only material wealth but also includes immaterial wealth such as our lineage, heritage, and family identity. As there is no private property there is no private property wherein you have a sense of ownership of anything or anyone moving back into the past, or forward into the future. This denial of private property therefore means the individual is cut off from their past and their future. The purpose of this is so the individual can only define themselves in keeping with the State who owns them.

2.) Abolition of Family

Wherever you find the success of Socialism there you find the break down of both the extended and nuclear family in favor of a atomistic social structure that does not allow the family to congeal into a unit that identifies itself vis a vis the State. The destruction of the family is done by a immorality that fractures the family bonds and so redefines the import of stable family structures.

3.) Communality or Equality

Socialism always aims a integrating all into the void. It builds a social order that is a machine and so while it may allow for different cogs to exist in the machine all the cogs are equal and are easily replaced by other trained cogs. Equality applies to the two areas we’ve already mentioned. Equality is striven after in private property among all citizens (except the elite) and all perverted types of family ordering is seen as “equally” valuable.

On the communality factor commonality of wives is often a feature in Socialism as well as commonality of living quarters. Think Kibbutz in terms of living. Think Hippie love ins in terms of commonality of women.

4.) Abolition of all religions that compete with the religion of Socialist Humanism

Socialism is the anti-religion religion. Socialism insists that it is not a religion while attacking religion in general as being a blight upon humanity. As it attacks religion in general it subtly advances itself as the anti-religion religion

Murder … It’s vast reach

Text — Exodus 20:13
Subject — Murder
Theme — The broad definition of Murder per the Heidelberg Catechism

Proposition — … will give us insight as to what we are called to as Christians in terms of our neighbor and remind us of the ongoing necessity to look to Christ alone for a 6th commandment keeping righteousness that can stand up to God’s just expectations.

Purpose — … therefore having examined the broad definition of murder let us continue, as those filled with the Spirit of Christ to seek to love our neighbor, and enemy by seeking their good.


Inter-relationship between various commandments

At this point we want to talk about the violation of the commandments in terms of action and not just thought. In a few minutes we will talk about the thought end these sins. However, for now I want to spend just a little time talking about how integrated God’s law is in terms of the sin acted and lived out — this as opposed to the thought or contemplation of the sin.

So, in our opening lets spend just a few minutes talking about the inter-relationship that exists among the 10 words.

1.) The 6th commandment as a violation of the 1st commandment.

God says we are to have no other Gods before Him.

If we disobey God and obey other gods we have violated the 1st commandment
In Murder we are disobeying God and so setting ourselves up to be god over God
Hence violation of the 6th commandment is a violation of the 1st commandment

2.) The violation of the 6th commandment as a violation of the 8th commandment.

When murder occurs theft occurs since murder is the (taking) stealing of someones life.

3.) The violation of the 7th commandment as a violation of the 8th commandment

When adultery occurs someone is stealing someones husband and / or wife.

4.) The violation of commandments 6-8 is a violation of commandment #10

We do not murder, commit adultery, or steal unless we are first animated by wanting something that isn’t ours to have.

5.) Violation of commandment #9 is a violation of commandment #3

When we bear false witness in court, we are at that point taking God’s name in vain since testifying is connected to oath taking.

6.) If you had Christian parents the violating of any of the commandment is a violating of the 5th commandment as it is not honoring to Christian Mothers and Fathers to break God’s Law Word.

7.) A breaking of any of the commandments is a breaking of the 3rd commandments since as God’s people we wear God’s name, and so any living inconsistent with God’s Law Word is a taking of God’s name in vain.

8.) A breaking of any of the commandments is a breaking of the 2nd commandment since in the breaking of God’s commandments there is a serving of some other god and his commandments and the 2nd commandment does not allow us to bow down to nor serve false gods.

We could go on like this but you begin to see how it is the case that though we rightly distinguish God’s law into 10 different commandments they are all bound up tightly together. Now having said that it is not as if all the sins committed as crimes are equally grave. Clearly they are not equally grave since Murder is a capital offense while something like theft is adjusted by restitution. So, clearly among the sins as committed as crimes there are levels of severity.

Now let us turn to the thought aspect of the 6th commandment.

Thought of harm

“That neither in thoughts, nor words, nor gestures, much less in deeds, I dishonour, hate, wound, or kill my neighbour, by myself or by another…”

Now, in as much the thought or contemplation of theft, or adultery, or false witness, or covetousness is a thought that dishonors, hates and wounds my neighbor, just as the thought of murder does, in that much my thoughts of theft, adultery, false witness, or covetousness, are thoughts that make me guilty of murder in my thinking since such thinking is a thinking that dishonors, and hates my neighbor. So, even though a person may be only contemplating adultery in his thinking, since that contemplation of adultery is a thinking that reveals dishonor or hate towards my neighbor, which is forbidden in the 6th commandment, that contemplating of adultery is at the same time a murderous contemplation.

Now if a person goes from contemplating theft to acting out theft, as a Magistrate I can not convict him for murder, though as a minister I would counsel him to repent of the kind of thoughts of hatred towards his neighbor that led him to steal from his neighbor, which is the same counsel I would give, as a minister, to someone who was convicted for murder. I would tell the convicted murderer also that he must repent of the kind of thoughts of hatred toward his neighbor that led him to kill his neighbor. So the actions of theft and murder are different and murder is far more grave in terms of criminal activity, and so is visited with a harsher penalty, but the actions of each are born of the same thinking that dishonors or hates my neighbor. This is why when I am guilty of violating the 7th – 10th commandment both in thinking and acting I am also guilty of the 6th commandment in as much as the thinking and acting done in violation of commandments 7 – 10 makes me guilty of the thinking that is forbidden in the 6th commandment — as I am forbidden to think such thoughts that would dishonor or hate my neighbor.

Now, obviously, no one can be, nor did God ever require people to be tried and temporally punished for thought crimes, still the Catechism teaches, as before God, that when we contemplate these matters (murder – hatred, theft – hatred, lust – hatred,) or if we plot them out, or let burn in our thinking hatred towards a fellow Christian we are guilty of murder as before God. In such thinking we will never be charged with a crime but we are charged with sin before God.

Question 106 of the Catechism reinforces even more that our thought life regarding our neighbor must be wholesome and chaste,

Question 106. But this commandment seems only to speak of murder?

Answer: In forbidding murder, God teaches us, that he abhors the causes thereof, such as envy, (a) hatred, (b) anger, (c) and desire of revenge; and that he accounts all these as murder. (d)

Envy — Pain over the good or prosperity of others and joy at the Misery of others. Envy belongs to whoever wishes to lower others so that he may climb over them.

(a) Prov.14:30 A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.

In our culture we have institutionalized envy via our political process and as such I intend to give envy a whole sermon next week.


(b) 1 John 2:9 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. 1 John 2:11 But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.


(c) James 1:20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

But following God’s word, the Catechism isn’t finished with detailing the 6th commandment for we remember that when we consider the Commandments that for every “Thou Shalt Not,” there is a corresponding “Thou Shalt.” And we find the “Thou Shalts” of the 6th commandment in the answer to Question 107.

Question 107. But is it enough that we do not kill any man in the manner mentioned above?

Answer: No: for when God forbids envy, hatred, and anger, he commands us to love our neighbour as ourselves; (a) to show patience, peace, meekness, mercy, and all kindness, towards him, (b) and prevent his hurt as much as in us lies; (c) and that we do good, even to our enemies. (d)

(a) Matt.7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. Matt.22:39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Rom.12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

(b) Eph.4:2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Gal.6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Gal.6:2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. Matt.5:5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Matt.5:7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Matt.5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Rom.12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Luke 6:36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. 1 Pet.3:8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Col.3:12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Rom.12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Rom.12:15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

(c) Exod.23:5 If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him.

(d) Matt.5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; Matt.5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. Rom.12:20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Rom.12:21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Now please understand that what is being taught here is that it is not only the case that we are guilty before God of murder when we actually literally murder someone, it is not only the case that we are guilty before God of murder when we merely think hateful, angry, and envious thoughts against our neighbor, it is also the case that we are guilty before God of the sin of murder when we do not prevent harm against our neighbor and do not love and help our neighbor as we ought.

Now this is the standard for Christians and I hope at this point that you, along with me, are recoiling here and thinking, “who can be cleared of the charge of murder then as before God.” “If this is God’s expectation then how can I have God on my side for, at the very least, I am guilty of not perfectly helping my neighbor at every point wherein they needed help and so I am guilty of Murder.

Well, if you are with me in thinking that then that is where we must once again preach the Gospel to ourselves. We God’s law as a guide to life as Christians. We sincerely seek to walk in our newness of life so that we love God and our neighbor and by the Spirit’s agency working within us we begin to do just that. However, we also see, if we are honest with ourselves that our obedience, that God accepts and is delighted in for the sake of Christ, is never, even after conversion, all that would be necessary to stand before God in the day of Judgment without Christ’s righteousness for us.

When we begin to see the high high standard of God’s expectations we are once again reminded of the necessity of Christ’s righteousness for us as Christians. We must remind ourselves daily that I am right with God not by the excellence of my obedience, nor by the Spirit of Christ working in me but by the excellency of Christ obedience for me.

And as this came up recently in one of our teaching sessions w/ some discussion let us review quickly

Of this righteousness of Christ for me that is called Christ’s Active Obedience

Rushdoony could write,

“Biblical justification is by imputation. Although man is not righteous before God, God the Judge imputes the righteousness of Jesus Christ to the sinner and declares him justified. As Berkhof wrote, ‘Justification is a judicial act of God, in which He declares, on the basis of the righteousness of Jesus Christ, that all the claims of the law are satisfied with respect to the sinner.’ From beginning to end, justification is the act of God: He is the lawgiver whose law has been broken. He is the court and Judge before whom all flesh shall appear. He is the Redeemer whose atonement affects man’s justification. And, before all this He is the Creator, who made all things, including man.” (R.J. Rushdoony, “Systematic Theology,” p. 631)

What Rushdoony is saying here is what has been, in the main taught by Biblical Christians throughout the centuries, and that is I can have fellowship w/ God not because of my obedience to the law but because of Christ’s obedience to the law for me. It is not what is worked inside me that gives me standing with God but it is what is worked outside of me that gives me standing with God.

This teaching is contrary to what some have taught in Church history regarding justification. Some have taught,

(Osiander) that justification for a Christian believer resulted by Christ dwelling in a person. Contrary to Luther’s belief that justification was from outside of us and was imputed by God’s grace, Osiander believed that the righteousness of a believer was accomplished by the indwelling of God; thus, God finds one righteous because Christ is in that person.

You see the contrast?

The Scriptures teach that God finds us righteous and so acceptable because God has put the perfect law keeping obedience of Christ on our side of the ledger. Others have wrongly taught that God finds us righteous and acceptable because God finds Christ in a person.

Now throughout history that teaching that Christ outside of us as our righteousness has been charged with encouraging lawlessness on the part of believers.

The accusation has been that if we teach people that what Christ has done for them which is outside of them which is their standing before God then those people will not follow God’s law.

However, as Calvin and the Reformers taught this doth in no way follow.


“For, if he who has obtained justification possesses Christ, and at the same time, Christ is never where his Spirit is not, it is obvious that free righteousness is necessarily connected with regeneration. Therefore, if you would properly understand how inseparable faith and works are, look to Christ, who, as the Apostle teaches, has been given to us for justification and for sanctification (I Cor. 1:30). Wherever, therefore, that righteousness of faith which we maintain to be free is, there too Christ is, and where Christ is there too is the Spirit of holiness, who regenerates the soul to newness of life.”

Calvin, Responsio (found in Ioannis Calvini opera selecta [ed. P. Barth, W. Niesel, and Dora Scheuner; 5 vols.; Munich: Chr. Kaiser, 1926–1952]

What Calvin is saying here is,

By the Spirit through faith believers are united to Christ who is in himself both (1) righteousness and (2) sanctification (I Corinthians 1:30). Hence these graces of righteousness (right standing w/ God because Christ’s obedience is accounted to them) and Sanctification (ongoing Spirit led obedience to God’s law) are

(1) distinct but inseparable, and entirely out of reach unless we are united to Christ;

(2) simultaneously bestowed, something Calvin is careful to emphasize repeatedly.

Consequently it is impossible to entertain either a salvation without works (works as dispensable for salvation) or a justification through our works (works as instrumental for justification).

If we do not hold with Rushdoony, and the overwhelming majority report of Reformed Christians since the Reformation, that it is Christ’s obedience to the 6th commandment as freely credited to our account that is our 6th commandment keeping righteousness then we are left to seeking to have a 6th commandment keeping obedience that is as complete as what the Catechism requires and so we are left with seeking to become our own Messiah.

Redrum … The 6th Word

Scripture — Exodus 20:11
Subject — Thou Shalt Not Murder
Theme — A introductory examination of what it means to not murder.

Proposition — A introductory examination of what it means to not murder will begin to give us the lay of the land on what God commands regarding life and death.

Purpose — Therefore having considered the 6th word in a introductory fashion let us be diligent in upholding God’s cause.


Thou Shalt Not Kill — 6th commandment

Horizontal move — Is connected to the Vertical by virtue of the fact that man retains the image of God.

So to attack man, in ways murderous, is to attack God, since man is God’s image.

In this section of God’s Moral law we find the definition of love to neighbor.

Jesus said the summary of the law was to love God and neighbor. In what is known as the first table of the law we have learned what love to God looks like. In the second table our love to God reveals itself in or love to neighbor.

There is a relationship between love to God and love to neighbor.

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

Of course this relationship explains why love of God always expresses itself in love of neighbor. If we do not love our neighbor we cannot say we love God and if we love God we cannot but help but love our neighbor. So, even though Jesus summarizes the law by reducing it to “love God and love neighbor,” we see that those loves are inextricably linked. Distinctions are made between loving God and neighbor but one can not be done w/o the other being done.

So, what this means is that if I have murderous, hateful, envy filled thoughts towards my neighbor then I am testifying against any confession that I love God.

The 6th commandment, like the others, follows the preamble about deliverance and liberation. King Pharaoh wanted to destroy Israel by killing God’s people. God delivered his people from death, thereby making life a sign of grace for His people. To destroy life would be an attack this grace. Life originated from God, through creation and redemption (even from Egypt), and exists for the purpose of God’s praise (Ps.118: 17). Every human being is someone who declares God’s praise. To kill a human being in this sense is to rob God.

Note here that murder is defined as within the context of Biblical law. We are to have reverence for life but reverence for life in the larger context of reverence for God. The motto “reverence for life” can not be absolutized. Only God is absolute. As such when we talk about reverence for life it is always in the context of God’s Word.

I.) Murder is the unwarranted taking of life

So we observe that Murder is the unwarranted taking of life. However, if Murder is the unwarranted taking of life that implies that there are times when the taking of life may be warranted.

A.) One example that we know of where the taking of life is warranted is when the Magistrate enforces penalty against someone for taking the life of another.

Genesis 9:5-6 5 And surely your blood, the blood of your lives, will I require; At the hand of every beast will I require it. And at the hand of man, even at the hand of every man’s brother, will I require the life of man. 6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: For in the image of God made he man.

Note first in this passage that the reason the penalty is visited upon the one who un-righteously sheds blood is because the guilty has struck at the image of God. An important point that we should not miss along the way. The sin and guilt is found first and foremost in the fact that the murderer has attacked God, before it is found in the fact that the murderer has attacked man.

The implication of this is that even if it could be proven that the death penalty, as visited upon murderers, was not a deterrent against others committing future murders that would not mean that we therefore should get rid of capital punishment for the primary reason for capital punishment is not its power of deterrence but rather the primary reason for capital punishment for murder is to communicate that God’s image, as seen in man, is not to be trifled with. The murderer has his blood spilled because he attacked God.

This teaches us that man has value only because of who he is in relation to God. If man had no objective relation to God, or if God did not exist there would be no reason to hold murder as being wrong or wicked in any kind of transcendent sense.

That observation then gives us insight into why life is cheapened and coarsened in cultures that throw off God. Without a Transcendent view of God who has come near to us in Christ human life has no consistent objective intrinsic meaning or value and so is disposable in the Gulag, the health care system, or the abortuary.

Back to the point at hand which is that not all life taking is murder,

God required this blood for blood in the context of the new beginning of human civilization with Noah. He reinforced it by requiring in the Mosaic code for murderers to be visited with capital punishment.

“Whoever kills any man shall surely be put to death…. You shall have the same law for the [foreigner] and for one from your own country; for I am the Lord your God.” Lev. 24:17-22

“But if he strikes him with an iron implement, so that he dies, he is a murderer (ratsach as in Ex.20:13); the murderer shall surely be put to death.” Num.35:16

This is why we speak of the Magistrate bearing the sword. The Magistrate has the responsibility to bring God’s justice to bear and that justice sometimes means the loss of life. In that context the loss of life as a just visitation of God’s penalty is not considered Murder and so is no violation of the 6th commandment.

Elsewhere we find in Scripture times when the taking of life is condoned by God’s law,

B.) Self-Defense

Exodus 22:2-3 2 “If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed. 3 “If the sun has risen on him, there shall be guilt for his bloodshed.

There are two cases here. In the first case, if someone breaks into your home at night, and you kill him, you are not held guilty of murder. You are not deserving of capital punishment. You do not need to flee to a city of refuge to preserve your life. The understanding is that at night, it is dark, and if someone has invaded your house, they do not announce if they are there merely to steal or if their intent is more ominous like being in your home to kidnap, to rape, or to murder. You are thus blameless if the criminal is killed in the situation where they are breaking into your home during the night. The passage does make it clear that if a man is breaking in at night with the intent of theft or worse (rape, murder, kidnapping, etc.), the defendant can righteously defend himself with lethal force to defend himself and presumably his family.

Matthew Henry comments here,

“…if it was in the day-time that the thief was killed, he that killed him must be accountable for it, unless it was in the necessary defense of his own life. … We ought to be tender of the lives even of bad men; the magistrate must afford us redress, and we must not avenge ourselves.”

So, God forbids unwarranted taking of life, but we learn that there are times when taking of life is warranted.

1.) The Magistrate
2.) Self Defense

C.) Another place where killing would be legitimate is in the defense of the innocent or the Defenseless

In Ps. 82:4 we are commanded to intervene on behalf of others: “Deliver the weak and needy; rid them out of the hand of the wicked.”

Proverbs 24:11-12 also supports this,

“If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain;… shall not he render to every man according to his works?”

Here we see God weighing the heart thus communicating our accountability to God. What is likewise communicated is the eternal rather than merely the social consequences of failing to help others in need. So if you don’t aid the judicially innocent and defenseless from being slain when God has put them in your path God will remember.

The idea that we are responsible to defend especially others who are our own is also seen in Abraham’s defense of his household. Genesis 14:12f

12 They also took Lot, Abram’s nephew, and his possessions and departed, for he was living in Sodom.

13 Then a fugitive came and told Abram the Hebrew. Now he was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner, and these were allies with Abram. 14 When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he led out his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them, and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. 16 He brought back all the goods, and also brought back his relative Lot with his possessions, and also the women, and the people.

So … the prohibition of Murder we have seen is a prohibition against the unwarranted taking of life because man is God’s Image. However we have seen that there are times when the taking of life, though regrettably necessary, is warranted.

1.) Magistrate 2.) Self-Defense 3.) Defense of the judicially innocent / family

II.) Counter Examples of Christians Who Do Not Believe That Taking of Life Is Ever Warranted

We take time to note this because there are many Christians out there who insist that it is always wrong all the time to take life. Anabaptists,

The Mennonites most recent confession adopted in 1995 states clearly in Article 22 that they witness against all forms of violence including war among nations, capital punishment, abortion, hostilities among races, abuse of women and children, and domestic violence.

An example of this mindset from Amish history is Jacob Hochstetler who, during the French and Indian War, offered an example that resonates today with his many descendants. Facing an attack by Native Americans, Hochstetler forbade his boys to fire back in defense. Jacob and two sons were subsequently captured, and his wife, son, and daughter scalped.

Hochstetler chose not to retaliate in the spirit of non-resistance, as he belived it wrong to take human life. As a result Hochstetler lost his loved ones and his freedom. While modern Americans might find it hard to understand Hochstetler’s decision, Amish today take inspiration in the early Amishman’s example, seeing it as how Christ himself would have acted.

So, the Amish believe that it was Christ-like for Jacob Hochstetler to allow his family to be tortured and murdered as opposed to defending them against the wicked.

Increasingly the Church is taking this kind of pacifistic non resistance to violence approach.

I was brought face to face w/ this some years ago when, after finishing a evening sermon on the 6th commandment and capital punishment, one of the congregants approached me afterwards and gently chided me since I was advocating a position that might not allow the person who would be executed time to repent. I was told, and given literature informing me of my error, that by advocating Capital punishment I might be sending a soul to eternity who might otherwise if they had not been executed would have repented and asked Jesus into their hearts.

I tried to gently tell this person that in the Reformed understanding of Christianity it is not possible to kill the elect before they trust Christ and that because we have this confidence we can obey God’s clearly revealed law and advocate capital punishment. My pleadings were of no avail.

When we refuse to protect life by obeying God’s law we are guilty of the God’s 6th Word. Not only is it a case of breaking God’s word when we kill those we ought not to kill but it is also a breaking of God’s 6th word when we do not kill those who God says should be visited with the penalty of their blood guilt.


Preach Christ

Cities of Refuge for involuntary manslaughter
There people could go to escape the avenger of blood of the person you accidentally killed
You had to stay there in order to be safe from the blood avenger until the high priest perished

Jesus Christ is our city of Refuge

The city of Refuges is a picture of Christ’s work. Christ is our city of refuge in whom we must remain hidden in order to escape a rightful wrath. As we will look at more next week we are all guilty of murder by our thoughts and tongues but as we find safety in Christ, our refuge, there is forgiveness for our sins.

Christ is also the high priest whose death takes our guilt and sets us free.