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The Bible

If the Bible says 'Thou shalt not kill' why do many Christians eat meat?


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April 16, 2010 11:04AM

Although the "King James Version of the Bible does say 'thou shalt not kill' in Exodus 20:13, this was written in 1611 and some word meanings have changed in the last 400 years! In recent Bible versions such as "New King James" [1979], the "New American Standard Bible" [1995], and the "NET" Bible [2005] it is rendered "You shall not murder" . The Note on Ex 20:13 in the NET Bible says:-

35tn The verb רָצַח (ratsakh) refers to the premeditated or accidental taking of the life of another human being; it includes any unauthorized killing (it is used for the punishment of a murderer, but that would not be included in the prohibition). This commandment teaches the sanctity of all human life. See J. H. Yoder, "Exodus 20,13: 'Thou Shalt Not Kill'," Int 34 (1980): 394-99; and A. Phillips, "Another Look at Murder," JJS 28 (1977): 105-26.

The 10 commandments forbids murder which is very different. Murder is the premeditated killing for personal gain of another human being. Killing includes all termination of life, including murder, slaughter of animals for food, and accidental death.

Eating meat is very different. Meat and animal products are very much permitted in scripture. The Jews themselves ate a great deal of lamb and Jesus himself taught that nothing that goes into a human mouth makes him unclean - only what comes out (like lies, slander and so on). This does not mean that humanity should not take care of animals ( we should, very much, be kind to animals as part of God's Creation) but humane slaughter for food is very much allowed in scripture.

Also killing in war is allowable because God tells us to respect the authorities and do as they say as long as it doesn't go against His word.

The bible says Murder is wrong, not that killing is wrong. God made the animals for us to eat, not only this but in the bible times God told them that they needed to sacrifice animals to him. that's not the case any more though, but that was considered a good thing. So eating an animal and killing another human are two completely different things. (That is one reason why cannabilism is wrong!)