Usually there are several presuppositions that I have to address before I can adequately answer this question.
When people ask me this question, (and I have been asked this question probably one thousand times) they usually tell me that they were always taught that the Bible says “Thou shalt not kill” in the Ten Commandments. (Read Exodus 20:13) However, the best way to translate this word in the English language is Murder. The verse literally says, “do not murder”.
Most people instinctively understand the difference between killing and murder. The Bible has many references to killing and murder. It always paints a very severe picture of murder and the Bible directs that the murderer be punished. However, there are many references to killing in the Bible, however it doesn’t require punishment for killing.
For those that don’t recognize the distinction between killing and murder let me tell you my opinion about the distinction. The difference lies in the heart. Murder is always an act of hate and always comes from an evil heart. Whereas, killing isn’t motivated by hate. (Picture in your mind that you are driving home from work. You are being careful and obeying all laws. You drive through an intersection during a green light and out of no where a car to your right drives through a red light and you broadside them. In the accident you sustain cuts and bruises but no serious injuries. However, the force of the accident costs the other driver’s life. No matter how you slice it you have just killed another human being. However, no one in their right mind would call what happened murder. One human lived, one human died but the missing ingredient was hate that flows from an evil heart.) This is a simple example of the difference between murder and killing.
The natural question next is what happens on the battlefield? Is it killing or murder? If the difference between killing and murder resides in the heart then this question can be very difficult to answer. If the reason that you are pulling the trigger and “slingin’ lead” with the enemies of our country is because you hate them and you want to see as many of them dead as possible then you have probably crossed from killing to murder. However, if you are willing to put your life on the line and take your enemy’s life if necessary out of a love for your unit and your nation then I think what you are doing is an act of killing for the greater good of peace and justice.
Therefore, I have no problem standing on the battlefield and telling men to courageously defend themselves, their unit and their nation no matter how many enemy lives that it costs. But I also remind them that only two people know what is really happening deep in their heart while they are doing their nation’s duty… them and God.
And one day every person will have to stand before God and give an account for not only their actions but also for the intent of their heart.
So Christians… do your duty but guard your heart!