Question 69: What is forbidden in the Sixth Commandment?
Answer: The Sixth Commandment forbiddeth the taking away of our own life, or the life of our neighbour unjustly, or whatsoever tendeth thereunto.
It is evident that the commandment forbids suicide and murder but I think that an additional question should be asked because in the text of their answer, the Westminster Puritans gave the answer to an additional question.
Does the commandment forbid capital punishment? The answer is no, it does not forbid capital punishment. If it did, the giving of the sixth commandment would have ablated in the commandment that the Lord God gave to Noah, Genesis 9.6:
Whoever sheds man’s blood,By man his blood shall be shed,For in the image of GodHe made man.
After giving the ten commandments that Lord God said to Moses, Exodus 21.12-14:
He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death. But if he did not lie in wait for him, but God let him fall into his hand, then I will appoint you a place to which he may flee. If, however, a man acts presumptuously toward his neighbor, so as to kill him craftily, you are to take him even from My altar, that he may die.
The commandment forbids suicide and murder, both of which involve forethought. Jesus said, Matthew 5.21-22:
You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.
The apostle John wrote, 1 John 3:15
Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
It is evident that the Lord God considers human life valuable; so valuable in fact, that he considers hatred to be murder.
Your Servant for Jesus’ Sake