5.3.6.4 Specific questions concerning the Fifth Commandment

All specific questions are to be answered with a view to the basic principle that God is the source of all life. He is the authority in whose hands the beginning and end of human life lies. No human being is entitled to violate this divine order.

Death penalty

The New Apostolic Church does not recognise the death penalty as a suitable deterrent, and therefore does not regard it as a suitable means of community protection either.

Wars

Killing in war constitutes a violation of the Fifth Commandment, even though the individual is hardly able to influence the events. However, even in such exceptional situations, it is the individual's responsibility to choose the lesser evil and to do his very best to avoid killing. Even in certain cases where one might attempt to justify the use of violence in order to prevent greater harm, or for the purposes of self-defence, killing is a violation of the Fifth Commandment.

Grounds for justification and exemption from guilt

Even killing in self-defence is a violation of the Fifth Commandment. Regardless of the legal penalty, however, the guilt incurred before God may, in this and in similar cases, be minimal.

Killing unborn life

Unborn life is to be respected and protected, since it must be assumed that it is, already from the moment of conception, a human life given by God. Thus the Church disapproves of killing embryos–that is abortion as well as the destruction of artificially generated human life. If, however, a medical prognosis concludes that a mother's life is in danger, her life should be saved. Although such a case still constitutes a violation of the Fifth Commandment, the guilt incurred may certainly be minimal.

Suicide

Suicide is a violation of the Fifth Commandment.

Assisted suicide

This applies to a terminally ill person for whom there is no prospect of healing and whose suffering cannot be alleviated.

Active assisted suicide

Active assisted suicide is a violation of the Fifth Commandment, just like helping someone to commit suicide.

Passive assisted suicide

Any decision regarding measures to prolong life is, first and foremost, up to the patient himself. In the event there is no statement of will, this decision should be made solely in consultation with doctors and relatives after a responsible assessment of the patient's best interests. Neither of these cases is considered a violation of the Fifth Commandment.

Euthanasia

The killing of handicapped or maimed human beings is a violation of the Fifth Commandment.

Killing other living creatures

The killing of animals is not covered by the Fifth Commandment. Genesis 9: 1-3 expressly allows for animals to serve as food for human beings. Nevertheless, the life of the mute creatures is also to be respected. This derives from mankind's shared responsibility for the preservation of the creation. It is every individual's duty to respect all life.

SUMMARY

Life has been given by God. He alone is Lord over life and death. Therefore it is not permitted for any human being to terminate a human life. (5.3.6.3)

According to its original meaning, the Fifth Commandment forbids the arbitrary, unlawful shedding of blood which is harmful to the community. (5.3.6.1)

Jesus did not limit the fulfilment of this commandment to its literal observance, but rather also takes into account the inner attitude of the individual. (5.3.6.2)

The commandment not to murder also includes the mandate to protect and preserve human life. (5.3.6.3)

See also