Two readers discuss the points raised in the article "Thou Shall Not Kill" by ManoChil.
David R. Hagopian (USA):
I read with interest your message entitled “Thou Shalt Not Kill”. What a dichotomy! How could such a religious man as Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer contemplate the killing of a human? Our Bible addresses death and killing in many ways. Indeed, many have argued that the Christian Bible is contradictory when it comes to this (and other) subjects. For example in Matthew 5 & 6, and in Luke 22 the Scriptures, appear to offer contradictory direction.
Luke 6:29 (New International Version)
29If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.
Matthew 5:39 (New International Version)
39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Luke 22:36 He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.
On one hand we are giving away shirts and on the other we are selling them for weapons. But as Armenians we refer to the Bible as “the breath of God” and therefore it cannot be contradictory.
The best explanation that I have ever heard of this particular dichotomy came from a lay preacher by the name of Bali Balian (my grandfather), who lived in Lebanon until the 1960’s. He said that these verses mean exactly the same thing. For the good of society, the protection of the innocent, the protection of family, and the defense of a nation, there are times when one must kill and there are times when one must die. As a Christian it is easier to die than to kill. But we must be ready for both situations. Without the knowledge of Scripture and the love of Christ in one’s heart, it is difficult if not impossible to discern, when faced with this situation, which path to choose.
David R. Hagopian
Deerfield, IL USA
Elisabeth Käser (Switzerland):
I read your article: Thou shalt not kill. As you wrote about Dietrich Bonhoeffer I'm sure you know that he once said something like: "It is less culpable to do something bad, than to be bad."
Interesting enough I'm reading a book by Paul Tournier. The title: "Shall We Assert
Or Give In? (Sich durchsetzen oder nachgeben?) Quote: "Bishop Wurm had often discussed the matter with an other Bishop (in Nazi Germany), one of his best friends, who, like him hesitated. Fortunately, one night, Wurm suddenly had an inner call, that he should take vigorous action and breake with the regime. He took it as a divine inspiration and immediately obeyed. It was high time. Little but was missing and he would have, like the other bishop, been led astray from compromise to compromise to conform with the regime, until eventually he wouldn't have been able to get away. Consequently he and his friend, who both hesitated for a long time, became leaders of two parties of the church, who irrevocably stayed in opposition, one in resistance, the other in submission."
How difficult it was for even a godly man like Bishop Wurm to know what to do! May God give us and all his children in times needed an inspiration and may we then obey immediately. May HE give us grace all the time.
With best wishes for your service in chanitz and wherever, including privately. Special greetings from Switzerland to you as well as to Badv. Svajian and Dig. Vera.
(previously in Anjar)
Dear Elizabeth and David Hagopian,
I’m am glad to know that the article I’ve written as of late September 2009 – Thou Shalt Not Kill – has stirred you to think about this difficult issue and write good responses whether a Christian should contemplate the very idea of killing when necessary.
I believe this subject will keep on being a controversial matter to many throughout their lives.