Can God Commit Murder?

The Bible clearly and repeatedly describes God as the maker and sustainer of all life (Genesis 1:1, Psalms 104:30, Colossians 1:16-17). Because of this, everything is his and under is dominion. Therefore, he can freely give and take from his creation as he desires because everything is his.

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One of the major criticisms of the God of the Bible is God’s apparent evil and immoral killing of so many people in the Old Testament, most often through the Israelites as they traveled through the desert. For example:

However, in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes.Completely destroy them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the Lord your God has commanded you. Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the Lord your God.

-Deuteronomy 20:16-18

The argument goes that if God commits (or instructs others on his behalf) murder, than he is not loving and perfect and therefore really doesn’t exist. However, there are many problems with this line of thinking. First, if God does not exist than objective moral truths do not exist. Therefore, how can anyone claim that murder is actually wrong? Just because we may not like something does not automatically make it wrong.

Second, if you read these passages in their entirety you will see that not one time does God have anyone killed without reason or justification. For example, the Bible is explicit concerning the sins of the Canaanites: idolatry, incest, adultery, child sacrifice, homosexuality, and bestiality. You cannot both argue that God should not allow evil, and then condemn God when he stops it.

Regardless of all of the reasons as to why killing the Canaanites was not immoral, the biggest question still remains: can God commit murder?

If God exists and created everything, everything is his. God not only created life, he sustains it.

Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.

-Psalms 54:5

So if at any point God decides to take his sustaining power away of something he created, he is free to do so; human life included. And because God is perfect and we all sin against him (Romans 3:23), he is under no obligation to allow us to live in the first place.

From a biblical perspective, if God chooses to withhold his sustaining power from a human life, he is not murdering them. However, if we decide we want to end someone else’s life, we are destroying something we did not create and do not have any rights over. The difference is that God is the Creator, not us.

In some ways it is like an artist who paints a beautiful picture on a canvas. Should the artist want to trash his painting, he has every right to do so because he created it. Should someone else come up and trash the painting, we would see that as wrong because it was not their painting to do that with (unless they bought it).

We also see in the Bible that human death is not the end. Scripture is clear that we all we live for eternity in either heaven or hell. With that in mind, God is not even technically ending a life that he created, rather the life is continuing on somewhere else.

In the end, we didn’t create life and thus don’t have a right to take it. If God chooses to no longer sustain something that he created, he has the ability to do so because he created it. Thankfully we have a God who loves us enough who is not only is willing to forgive us, but to give us eternal life with him through his free gift of salvation by the acknowledgement of our sins and trust in Jesus.

Can God commit murder? For God to end a life (or rather change the location of that life) he created is not wrong because apart from him that life cannot even exist. When we as humans murder one another, we are ending a life that we did not create and we do not sustain. Humans have the ability to reproduce life through procreation, but not independent of the God given ability to do so.

Since God created life he alone gets to define it. As finite human beings with a limited capacity for knowledge, it is arrogant to think that we can and should be able to understand all the ways in which God as an all-knowing and infinite being works.

All life belongs to God, and he alone has the authority to sustain it as he pleases.

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