Friday, November 10, 2023

A Call of Duty

Exodus 20:13, from the Bible, is often translated as "Thou shalt not kill" in the King James Version (KJV) and similar wording is used in many other translations. However, the interpretation of this commandment is not as straightforward as it may seem, and the context of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and the original Hebrew language provides a more nuanced understanding.

In the Hebrew text of Exodus 20:13, the word used is "רָצַח" (ratsach), which is more accurately translated as "murder" rather than "kill." This distinction is important because it suggests that the commandment is not an absolute prohibition against all forms of killing, but rather against unlawful and unjustified killing, or what we commonly refer to as murder.

Murder involves the intentional taking of another person's life with malice or wrongful intent. It is a deliberate act of killing someone without a legitimate justification.

Murder often implies a deliberate and planned act, as opposed to acts of killing that may happen in the heat of the moment or as a result of self-defense or justifiable war.

Many ethical frameworks, including the Christian Just War Theory, provide a moral basis for engaging in warfare under certain circumstances. Just War Theory argues that there are situations where war can be morally justified, provided certain criteria are met, such as a just cause, proportionality, and a reasonable chance of success. In such cases, killing in combat may be seen as morally permissible rather than murder.

Modern military forces operate under a legal framework that distinguishes between lawful and unlawful killings. Soldiers are generally expected to follow the rules of engagement and international humanitarian law, which provide guidelines for the use of force in armed conflict. Killing in accordance with these laws may be considered legal and morally justifiable.


Soldiers may still experience moral dilemmas and emotional turmoil when they are involved in taking lives, even in the context of a justifiable war. The psychological and emotional impact of combat can be profound, and individuals may grapple with questions of conscience.

The distinction between killing and murder is crucial, and it allows for a recognition that not all forms of killing are morally prohibited. Military personnel often operate within legal and ethical frameworks that distinguish between justifiable and unjustifiable killing, but they may still face complex moral and psychological challenges when they are involved in combat situations.

Seeking out a discussion group with individuals who share similar backgrounds and experiences can provide valuable emotional support and a sense of belonging. In such groups, people can openly discuss their challenges, share insights, and find common ground, fostering a sense of community and understanding. Additionally, these groups often offer a safe space to exchange coping strategies and gain perspectives from those who have faced similar issues, promoting personal growth and resilience.

However, while peer support can be immensely helpful, it may not be a substitute for professional counseling when needed. Professional counseling offers specialized expertise and therapeutic interventions that can address complex emotional and psychological issues. A trained therapist can provide tailored guidance, therapeutic techniques, and a confidential environment to explore and resolve deep-seated concerns. Combining the support of a discussion group with professional counseling when necessary can create a holistic approach to mental and emotional well-being, ensuring individuals receive the comprehensive care they require to navigate life's challenges effectively.


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