From Pastor Esposito
From Pastor Esposito, Associate Pastor
Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Commandments
The fifth commandment: You are not to kill, deals with individuals and includes neither God nor the government. Luther states that in Matthew 5 Jesus explains and summarizes this commandment that “we must not kill, either by hand, heart, word, by signs or gestures, or by aiding and abetting”.1 We often think that this commandment deals only with the actual act of taking another person’s life. There are many ways we humans can kill and injure one another. The old saying that sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me is wrong. Many times words can injure us just as much, if not more so. Many of us, even though we do not actually commit murder, curse others and wish horrible things on people that if they did actually come true would destroy them.
We are not to harm anyone by word or deed, we should not advocate harming anyone and we should not be hostile toward anyone. Instead we should do good for our neighbors by protecting them and preventing harm. Luther also states that that if you turn a naked or homeless person away or fail to feed a hungry person you are violating this commandment because you are letting them freeze or starve to death. We are to show kindness and love to all people.
The sixth commandment states that we are not to commit adultery. The commandment is about all forms of unchastity no matter what it is called. We are called to help preserve one another’s honor. Marriage has been established by God and should be revered as such. In the Large Catechism, Luther states, “Wherever marital chastity is to be maintained, above all it is essential that husband and wife live together in love and harmony, cherishing each other….Under such conditions chastity always follows without any command” (415).
The seventh commandment, “You are not to steal.” It guards taking one’s property by unjust means and we should not take advantage of others in any dealings. This means paying workers a fair wage, not cheating someone through failure to give them all that they paid for, charging fair prices, fair rent, not returning something borrowed, keeping something that isn’t yours, and taking something without asking. This preserves good order and helps care for and protect neighbors.
We can discuss all sorts of nuances of these commandments and all sorts of situations. At the end of the day it really is about honoring, caring for, respecting, and protecting one another, our neighbors, and our society. We should strive to do what is right and not cause any harm through our words, actions, or inactions toward others.
1Kolb, Robert and Wengert, Timothy, ed. 2000. The Book of Concord. “The Large Catechism” p 411