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The Difference Between Killing and Murder


Thought for the Day(The following is from a police officer who was forced to kill someone in the line of duty. Just a few days later, his father suddenly died from a heart attack. For some time, the officer felt God was punishing him for the shooting by taking his father. A pastor helped him understand the difference between killing and murder.)

"I killed that guy last week and this [my father's death] is my payback. I took a life; now somebody's taking somebody I care about." I remember thinking that over and over and over again, even when I got home. . . .

The next day, I got a call from the counselor who handles the officer-involved shootings. . . . I told her what I was thinking and that it was really bothering me. She asked me, "Are you religious?" I said, "Yeah, I'm very religious. I'm a Christian. I'm not a Bible-thumper, but I have my beliefs." She said, "Well, if you have your belief in God, you know we don't have a vengeful God. God wouldn't do that. It just happened."

Then a couple of days after that. . . . I told [a pastor] about the shooting, my dad's death, about all that had been going on in our lives recently. He quoted something out of the Bible about how God makes allocations for police officers, and then he said, "You need to understand that there are those people out there that have to protect the flock, and that's what you do." Then he said, "Do you understand the difference between killing and murder? The Bible says, 'Thou shall not kill,' but that's misinterpreted. What the Bible really means is 'Thou shall not murder.' Murder's premeditated. What you do as a police officer to survive and protect everybody else is not murder. Yes, you killed somebody, but it wasn't murder. There's a big difference in God's eyes."

As soon as he said that, . . . it was like it was gone. That was probably five days after my dad passed away, and as soon as that pastor deciphered the difference between killing and murder and pointed out that there were allocations in the Bible for people like soldiers and police officers and that there are people that have to do ugly things so the rest of us can lead normal lives, every stress from that shooting was gone. It was just an incredible rush of relief, especially with the religious words, because I believe in God; I believe in certain things and I believe you shouldn't kill. Then, when I heard the difference between killing and murdering and the interpretation of the Bible, that was really a big relief to me.

David Klinger, Into the Kill Zone: A Cop's Eye View of Deadly Force (Jossey-Bass, 2004, 249-250).

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The Lord's Servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will give them a change of heart leading to a knowledge of the truth
II Timothy 2:24-26