Matthew 5:22. But I say to you that anyone who is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgement.
Having looked at what the 6th Commandment does not forbid, let’s see what it does forbid.
In this commandment God includes all those acts which are associated with violence, hatred and aggression. Christ verifies this in Matthew 5:21 and 22.
‘You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not murder,” and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgement. But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgement. And whoever says to his brother, “Raca!” shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, “Your fool!” shall be in danger of hell fire.’
In the first place it obviously forbids malicious physical injury. If you are not to murder then you are not to hurt anybody or engage in any form of malicious, wilful, deliberate violence and physical injury. This covers all aspects of living in our society. Not only does it refer to political or criminal violence but also to the issue of violence in the home and of wife-beating and various other forms of domestic abuse.
Some wives who have been the subject of wife-beating have often been told by well-meaning counsellors that they are to placate their husbands and try to save their families. I want to say firmly, that under the umbrella of this commandment, you have no right to do that. God has placed His image upon you – he has placed a tremendous value upon you. Marriage is meant to be something honourable but when it is turned into something which is dishonourable, or a caricature of what it should be, it is dishonouring to God. Although there may be other interventions sometimes divorce may be the only option left in some cases of domestic violence. If this commandment says, ‘You shall not murder’ it also means you shall not engage in violence. It is something which is forbidden by God and therefore if you live in a home where you or your children are being physically abused, you need to know you have no right to be there. In saying this I realise that sometimes victims have very few options. I have no answer to that in this short article but I want to state the basic principle that any form of abuse is a violation of the 6th Commandment.
This commandment also forbids suicide. We must remember that our lives belong to God. Somebody reading this may have, in some moment of great depression and trial, contemplated suicide. You may have the type of temperament where from time to time you think in this way. I want you to remember that you have no right to take your own life, any more than you have a right to take anybody else’s. Your life belongs to God. He gave it to you and only He has the right to take it. While we sympathise with you in your stress, strain or affliction, or whatever your trial may be, you still need to be told quite firmly that you are forbidden to take your own life.
Suicide is of course a very sensitive subject and I do not mean to sound hard or harsh to those who have lost loved ones in this way. There are other things to know and to say about suicide that are not within the parameters of this blog. Rather I hope that the above comments will help those of a melancholic state of mind to remember that God is still there and our emotions are in His hands. Seek Him. Trust Him. He loves you even if you feel no one else does. Fight your despair and depression and seek a good and trusted counsellor to help you through your trial.
O God, help us in our difficulties. Help us to value our own lives and the lives of others too. Give us grace to trust you and your love for us in Christ. Amen