Doesn't "Thou Shalt Not Kill" Apply to Humans, not animals?

It is important for us to remember that the Ten Commandments were given to a fallen and violent humanity. It is certainly true that originally, God's commandment, "Thou Shalt Not Kill," applied exclusively to humans. In fact, it originally applied exclusively to Jewish men in one's own community (one's "neighbor" in a very tightly defined sense), and "kill" was more accurately translated "murder without a really good reason." That was the most God could hope for in the violent world in which Moses lived, and like the laws having to do with war-making and how to treat ones slaves, this law was God's attempt to make a very violent world somewhat less violent by telling people to, at the very least, not kill their immediate community members.

Society has come to believe that we should not kill any person gratuitously. Although such inclusivity is not what the sixth commandment demands, that is how most of us would interpret it today. So, in calling on people to extend the commandment to animals, vegetarians are simply suggesting that it is now time to include animals, which is actually a more faithful representation of God's real desire for humanity.

Indeed, as is discussed in previous questions, including those discussing animal sacrifice and dominion, God's ideal is represented by the Garden of Eden and by the visions of the peaceable kingdom described by the prophets. It is absolutely clear that God's ideal includes compassion and mercy for all God's creatures. As is even clearer, the way animals are treated before being turned into meat makes a complete mockery of God's love for God's creation. For more information on the exploitation of animals for meat, please visit PETA's vegetarian Web site: To take God's desires seriously, we must all adopt a vegetarian diet.

The Nazarenes of  Mount Carmel
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