Is it ever morally permissible to take life? Those of you who know me might think this a strange question. I’m quite serious about it.
Over the years I have had occasion to kill. When I was a boy I learned about butchering hogs, killing chickens and processing meat for the freezer. I was expected to help out.
I still hunt and fish and although I don’t keep farm animals I have been known to help friends butcher. As a hunter I have never felt easy about the killing portion of the sport. I have never rejoiced in the death of my quarry. If anything I feel grateful for the life that has been given to provide me with meat. I understand why ancient peoples gave thanks to the sprits of the animals they hunted. I too offer a prayer of thanksgiving at the end of the hunt.
It is morally acceptable, in my view, to take animal life. Sometimes it is not ethical to do so. A man must have a defined reason for why he is killing. If it is to provide for his sustenance, protection or other noble purpose then he is behaving ethically. Likewise if a man accidentally takes an animals life he is innocent of any moral violation.
What about human life? I have never killed a human. God willing, that situation will never be forced upon me. This is a far tougher question. People have always killed each other. We are inconsistent in our thinking when it comes to which killing we find horrifying and that which we hold as honorable.
The only way to tell is to look at the circumstances around the death of the person. Why did they die? If a person dies as the result of their own actions then the person who took their life is morally innocent. Call it an aggressor test.
If a one kills a criminal to protect his person or possessions, he is innocent.
If a one kills in battle, he is innocent.
If a one kills to satisfy his own desires against a non-aggressor, he is guilty.
I would allow for the practice of dueling since it is battle between two consenting parties. I would not allow for abortion since the person being killed is being destroyed for no reason other than their inconvenient existence.
In case you’re wondering about why I’m writing this heavy stuff about life and death, I’m laying some ground work for a philosophical disagreement with an article written by HE THAT MUST NOT BE NAMED. I should get around to writing it in a week or two, depending on how work is going.