Mortal Sin Against the Fifth Commandment – Murder
The Fifth Commandment: “You Shall Not Kill”
Murder, homicide or manslaughter.
When looking at the Fifth Commandment, we need to first look at the word “kill”. If you were to look at the original Hebrew, the term “ratsakh” is used. Literally translated “ratsakh” is to “murder”. Thus we must be aware that in the case of this commandment, it is the term of murder that we must look at. We also must realize that these commandments are for how we interact with other humans. Thus the argument that eating meat is murder, does not apply.
Each and every single person is made in the image and likeness of God. Because of this basic fact, each person is unique and is deserving of life. God is very clear in this commandment, that we are not to murder each other. God is the giver of life, and thus, He is the taker of life. It is up to God and only to God when a person may die.
Intentionally murdering someone, killing someone for the sake of it (homicide) or killing in the moment or by neglect (manslaughter) is a mortal sin that breaks this commandment. In each of these scenarios, you have murdered someone either intentionally, or through your neglect of the situation you happened to be in.
Murder is one of the four sins that cry out to Heaven for justice. We read this in Genesis when Cain killed Abel (c.f. Genesis 4:8-10).
Let it be clear that killing in self-defense or killing to defend another person (i.e. an assailant trying to kill a child) is not a mortal sin. It is also important to mention that pets do not count as humans, and thus do not apply under this commandment.
As mentioned earlier, only God can determine when and how a person can die. Likewise, in the Old Testament when God would destroy cities, this is not murder. As God is the maker and giver of life, He has every right to take it away, however He sees fit. Generally He would be violent to show that you are not to cross Him, that He is serious in the commandments that He gives us, and that physical pain and suffering is what awaits those who oppose Him.
This post is one of many in a series on Mortal Sins. Click here for more posts explaining and defining mortal sins.
Pingback: Mortal Sin Against the Fifth Commandment – Suicide/Euthanasia | Traditional Roman Catholic Thoughts
It is also a sin of murder to murder a person’s reputation. I have read in a little book called, Sins of the Tongue, that people who destroy another’s reputation and are unrepentant will receive the same punishment in hell as those who have killed a person in the flesh.
Without seeing the context, I’d have to disagree that harming a reputation of someone is a “sin of murder”. The sin of calumny is a mortal sin of itself under the Eight Commandment of Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness.