Q: What is required in the sixth commandment?
A: The sixth commandment requires all lawful endeavors to preserve our own life, and the life of others.
Genesis 9:6 Whoever sheds the blood of a man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.
This commandment very much concerns itself with how we view human life. It shows us that God values human life. Why? Why does God value human life? Because of what Moses wrote in the first few chapters of Genesis. When God created man, he created him male and female after his own image. Human beings are special acts of God's creation. We are image bearers of God himself. This week's Scripture passage from Genesis 9 reemphasizes this idea. The shedding of blood is hated by God, "for God made man in his own image". When we do things that harm or destroy ourselves or our fellow men, we are harming or destroying the image of God in that person.
Again, think beyond the surface wording of this commandment to the heart issue underneath. Not only are we to not intentionally do things that would damage our lives or the lives of others, but we are to actively preserve life, in accordance with the laws of our land and of course, the law of God. This means a lot of things. It should effect how we think about our own bodies. Are we good stewards of ourselves? Do we eat right, exercise, take general care of our health? Do we concern ourselves with the wellbeing of our neighbors? How does this commandment effect how we live in community with our fellow man? How does it effect our political views? Our views on life, our views on social justice, our views on foreign policy? How does it effect our views on the church itself, both locally and globally? Are we actively endeavoring to preserve all life whenever possible? These are big questions. Many of them are matters of conscience, and as the Westminster Confession states, God alone is Lord of the conscience. But I hope to at least get us to think through these issues. It's my hope that we would actively seek to apply God's law to all aspects of our lives, because God's law does indeed speak to all aspects of life!