“Thou shalt not kill.”
A person is guilty of murder even if he kills another person accidentally, without thinking. Such a murder is a grievous sin, because in this case the murderer is guilty due to his carelessness. A person is guilty of murder even when he does not commit the murder himself, but promotes the murder or allows someone else to do it. For example:
- A judge, condemning the accused to death when his innocence is known.
- Anyone who does not save a neighbor from death, when he is fully capable of doing it.
- Anyone who helps another commit murder by his decree, advice, collaboration, or rationalization; or who condones and justifies a death and by that gives opportunity for more killing.
- Anyone who by hard labor or cruel punishment exhausts victims into a weakened state and thus hastens their death.
- Anyone who through self-indulgence in various vices curtails one’s own life.
Other sins against the sixth commandment are: wishing that someone were dead, not rendering help to the indigent and sick, not living with other people in peace and concord, but on the contrary, maintaining hatred, envy, and malice towards others, instigating quarrels, brawls, and distress among others. Sin against the sixth commandment is doing anything which injures the weak, children in particular. The Gospel of Christ says, Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer (I John 3:15).
Besides physical killing, there is yet a more terrible and accountable murder: spiritual killing. Among the sins of spiritual murder is seduction. That is, when one leads astray or seduces his neighbor into unbelief or into a life of vice, and by this renders the soul of his neighbor liable to spiritual death. The Savior said, But whosoever shall offend one of these little ones which believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea... woe to that man by whom the offense cometh (Matt. 18:6-7). In order to avoid sin against the sixth commandment, Christians must help the poor, serve the sick, comfort the sorrowful, lighten the conditions of the unfortunate, with everyone be kind and loving, reconcile themselves with anyone who has grown angry, forgive offenses, do good to enemies, and refrain from harmful examples, either by word or deed, especially before children.
It is impossible to equate criminal murder with the killing that occurs in battle. War is a great social evil, but at the same time war is an enormous catastrophe permitted by the Lord for a lesson and correction of people, just as He permits epidemics, starvation, fires, and other misfortunes. Therefore, killing in a war is not viewed by the Church as a particular sin of man. Furthermore, every soldier should be ready, according to the commandment of Christ, to "lay down his life for his friends," for the defense of his faith and his homeland.
Among the military there are many saints glorified by miracles.
However, even in war it is possible to be guilty of murder, when, for example, a soldier kills someone who has surrendered, or when a soldier allows brutality, etc. Capital punishment of a criminal applies also to social ills and is a great evil. But it is allowed in exceptional cases when according to justice, it appears that it alone can stop a multitude of murders and crimes. But in terms of justice, the administrators carrying out the execution answer before God. Capital punishment of hardened criminals is often the only means by which they will be brought to repentance. Note that without the will of God, not a hair would fall from anyone’s head.