Some people, who likely know nothing about the Bible, will give you their version of one of the 10 commandments: “thou shalt not kill.” To them this means there is never a reason to kill a human. Many Bibles actually say “thou shall not murder” which is more accurate.

To KILL = the justifiable taking of life

TO MURDER = the unjustified taking of life

Whether you are religious or not it is good to know the following information because some of your peers and or subordinates may be religious.


When you have killed another human being, when you have watched the mystery of life and death flicker in front of your eyes, and a living, breathing person has become a piece of meat, and you are the one that caused that, you cannot help but think, “I’m going to have to answer to my maker for what I did.”

This was told to me by Dr. Dave Grossman:

Early in World War I, young Alvin York, an Army recruit, went up his chain of command during his basic training to explain to his leaders that he was a Quaker. He told them that because he had always been taught, “Thou shalt not kill,” he did not think he could do what they were asking of him. So one his officers took him aside and explained the other side of the story so the recruit could make his own decision. Well, York went on to receive the Medal of Honor by acting with great valor and killing many enemy soldiers. At a critical, crucial moment in our nation’s history, when he was needed, Alvin York was on the battlefield, with his heart and mind prepared for combat. So, let me tell you what that young leader said to York to change his thinking and help him make such an incredible contribution to his country and his fellow soldiers. (“Thou shalt not kill” or “Thou shalt do no murder?”) Veterans state this is the Most Useful, Powerful and Healing Information we have to Teach Them.

On 1 January 1915, Alvin attended a revival meeting conducted by Reverend H.H. Russell. This was the first event to change Alvin. He describes the sermon as if lightening hit his soul. He was moved to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He immediately abandoned “smoking, drinking, gambling, cussing and brawling.”

His old friends tried to persuade him to go drinking but Alvin took his commitment to his faith seriously. He taught Sunday school, led the choir and became an elder in his church. April 1917, the United States entered the war. With his religious conversion, Alvin was concerned that he would be drafted into the Army and have to fight in World War I.

Alvin wrote in his diary, “I wanted to follow both [the Bible and the US]. But I couldn’t. I wanted to do what was right…If I went away to war and fought and killed, according to the reading of my Bible, I weren’t a good Christian.”

Alvin’s concern about being drafted came true. He received a draft registration notice. Alvin was in a dilemma because he had read, “thou shalt not kill” in the Bible, and believed a Christian should not kill no matter the reason. Alvin also believed that governments were ordained by God as instruments to obey. Alvin’s requested exemption from the draft but his request was refused. He became more concerned and confused.

He noted, “I was sorter mussed up inside worser’n ever. I thought that the Word of God would prevail against the laws of men…”

Alvin sought conscientious objector status but was refused. He wrote on his draft card, “Don’t want to fight”. Because his church was not a recognized Christian sect, the local and state draft authorities decided to deny his request for exemption. Alvin was drafted into the Army and reported for duty to Company G, 328th Infantry Regiment, 82nd Infantry Division. He was posted at Camp Gordon, Georgia.

His company commander Captain Edward Danforth, and his battalion commander, Major G. Edward Buxton sat with him and had many conversations regarding the Bible and Alvin’s faith. Alvin was an excellent shot but many viewed him as odd because he didn’t want to fight. Both officers tried to explain to Alvin the Biblical justification for war.

Alvin debated the officers as they spent countless hours of their time addressing his concerns. York countered every position the officers took regarding the justification for the use of violence in warfare. One night, Captain Danforth read Ezekiel 33.

“But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.” Ezekiel 33:6

Alvin stood up and stated, “All right, I’m satisfied.” Alvin then set forth to excel in all the things he was entrusted to.

“You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). If you have to kill in the lawful act of your duty, in defense of yourself or another, is that murder? No. The Bible says that King David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts, 13:22). It says, “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (1 Samuel, 18:7). David killed tens of thousands of men in combat and was honored for it. It was not until he murdered Uriah to get at Bethsheba that he got himself into trouble (II Samuel Chapter 11).

POLICE: “The lawful bearer of arms.” We know that Peter had a sword, because when the authorities came to arrest Jesus, Peter drew it, which prompted Jesus to tell him that they were a lawful authority. Jesus said that if you “live by the sword,” if you raise your sword against them, then “you shall die by the sword,” rightfully administered by the lawful authority (Matthew 26:52).

Exod. 20:13. “Thou Shalt Not Murder.”

In sum, to kill without cause is to murder, to kill with cause is part of life; sometimes sheepdogs have to kill predators.

Relevant Bible Quotes:

Jesus said: “Thou Shalt do no Murder.”

“The Lord gave victory to David…”

“David killed his tens of thousands…”…Trouble started when David Murdered Uriah.

“These six things God hates … Shedders of innocent blood.”

The rich young man comes to Jesus… “Sell everything that you have.” The Centurion comes to Jesus… “No greater faith have I found.” Jesus said: “Buy a sword…”

“The magistrate beareth not the sword in vain.” 1st gentile Christian is Cornelius, a Centurion.



*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

By David Devaney

David K. Devaney SgtMaj USMC Retired 2009 City of Hit Iraq with PTTDavid was born in Geneva New York and graduated from Geneva High School in 1980. He joined the Marine Corps on a guaranteed Infantry contract in April of 1983. After graduating boot camp he was stationed in Hawaii with 3rdBattalion 3rd Marines (3/3). While assigned to 3/3 he held billets as a rifleman, fire team leader, and squad leader. During 1986 Corporal (Cpl) Devaney was selected as a member of Surveillance and Target Acquisition (STA) Platoon, 3rd Battalion 3rd Marine. Upon graduation of Scout Sniper School he was assigned to the Scout Sniper Section of 3/3 STA Platoon. During his second deployment as a Scout Sniper with 3/3 he was promoted to Sergeant (Sgt). After a tour on the drill field from 1989-1991 Sgt Devaney returned to STA 3/3 were he deployed two more times. During 1994 Sgt Devaney was selected to the rank of Staff Sergeant (SSgt) and ordered to III Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF), Special Operation Training Group (SOTG); while at SOTG SSgt Devaney was assigned as a Reconnaissance and Surveillance (R&S) and Urban Sniper Instructor and Chief Instructor. At the time III MEF SOTG Instructors were members of Joint Task Force 510 (JTF 510 CT); a Counter Terrorism Task Force. In 1998 he deployed to Operation Desert Fox with Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 2/4 and was attached to Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) 572/594 as a sniper. SSgt Devaney deployed again, during 2000, with ODA 135/136/132 to Malaysia as member of JTF 510, working with the Malaysian National Police. After leaving SOTG Gunnery Sergeant (GySgt) Devaney was assigned to Company A 1st Battalion 7th Marine, and spent much of his time training the Scout Snipers of 1/7. Just before the invasion of Iraq, in 2003, he was selected to the rank of First Sergeant (1stSgt) and led 270 Marines, sailors, and soldiers during combat – receiving a Bronze Star Medal for destroying the enemy and their will to fight. During 2004 1st Sgt Devaney was ordered to duty as the Inspector Instructor Staff 1st Sgt for 2nd Beach and Terminal Operations Company, Savannah, Georgia. During 2007 he was selected to the rank of Sergeant Major (SgtMaj) and received orders to Electronic Warfare Squadron 4 (VMAQ-4) stationed at Cherry Point, NC. There he trained a CADRE which in turn trained a massive Quick Reaction Force in combat operations. After two more deployments to Iraq SgtMaj Devaney received orders to Weapons Training Battalion, Quantico, VA. SgtMaj Devaney retired from the Marine Corps on 31 December 20013. He now works as an adjunct combat instructor at the “Crucible’’ in Fredericksburg, VA. David is also on the Board of Directors of the Marine Corps Scout Sniper Association. David’s published work: Books Devaney, D.K. (2007). Surviving combat: Mentally and physically (3rd edition). 29 Palms, CA: USMC. Devaney, D.K. (2015). They Were Heroes: A Sergeant Major’s Tribute to Combat Marines of Iraq and Afghanistan. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. Articles Devaney, D.K. (2011) Enough Talk of Suicide, Already! Proceedings Magazine. Devaney, D.K. (2011) Can PTSD Be Prevented Through Education? Proceedings Magazine. Devaney, D.K. (2012) PTSD Is Not Cancer. The Marine Corps Gazette. Devaney, D.K. (2012) Women in Combat Arms Units. The Marine Corps Gazette.

2 thoughts on “Murdering vs Killing”
  1. Two points.
    #1, (and with all due respect to LtCol Grossman) York was NOT a Quaker.
    #2, By all historical records, the stone tablets Moses brought down from Mt Sinai didn’t say anything about “not killing.”

    York was a member of an obscure denomination called the Church of Christ in Christian Union (CCCU). I pretty sure on that point because I’ve had this conversation with Dr. Mike Birdwell, the historian who Mrs. Gracie York personally selected to be conservator of her late husband’s personal papers. I know “Birdie” from our days at college together, just a stone’s throw from York’s Valley of the Three Forks.

    If York had in fact been a Quaker, he likely would have died in obscurity because Quakers were listed by the Selective Service among the “Historic Peace Churches” whose members routinely were granted Conscientious Objector status. York’s church, the CCCU, failed to make the Selective Service’s peace church list, purportedly on two accounts.

    First, because it was a very new denomination (established in 1909) and by the time York was called up its number of adherents hadn’t risen to a level that warranted the Selective Service numbering them among the Quakers, Mennonites, et. al. And second, rather than publishing any formal doctrine, the CCCU chose instead to encourage its members to read and interpret the scriptures for themselves. Since York’s claim of moral objection wasn’t supported by any formal church doctrine (because they didn’t really have any), that left nothing but his personal convictions. And those were based on his personal interpretations of the Bible, which the draft board found insufficient because York’s was not the sole accepted interpretation of the 6th Commandment.

    As for the verbiage used in the 6th Commandment, most Rabbis and other Hebrew scholars will tell you that the use of the word “kill” in the Christian bible is nothing but a mistranslation. The word in Hebrew was (phonetically) “ratzach,” which means an unlawfull killing. Because rather than out-and-out prohibiting all killing, not only did the G-d of the Israelites tell them that sometimes it was okay to kill, but also that on other occasions it was mandatory. G-D commanded the Israelites to kill every body and every thing when they entered the promised land of Canaan. He commanded them to practice capital punishment. And he commanded them to take all measures necessary — up to and including killing — to prevent certain crimes happening. Like child molestation. So it’s pretty clear that the G-d of the Israelites wasn’t nearly as much a pacifist as the 6th Commandment in many Christian Bibles would make it seem.

    Not that not all Christian Bibles use “kill.” Some do use the word “murder,” which is much closer to the Hebrew. And in some cases the introduction of the mistranslation is easily traceable. One of the most prominent is St. Jerome’s Vulgate Bible. Which he wrote in the “common” or “vulgar” Latin for the benefit of the less educated. So presumably he also “dumbed down” the message so as not to befuddle the masses with the subtle differences between “murder” and “killing.” And the Vulgate Bible was widely influential, including being one of the principal sources for the most revered of all English translations, the King James Version. Which explains why so many Christian bibles say “Thou shall not kill.”

    But the Jews say that’s mistranslation. And so far as anyone can tell, no one except the Jews ever saw the original copy of the 10 Commandments, so you pretty much have to trust their word on the matter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.