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The Value of Human Life
By Kyle Pope

Although the Bible declares to us the importance of humility and a proper view of man’s significance in the universe, much is also said about the tremendous value God has placed on human life. Consider three facts offered in this regard:

1. We are made in the image of God. When the Lord first created man Deity conversed with itself to declare – “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; ...’” (Genesis 1:26a, NKJV). Of no other creature in God’s creation is this declared.

2. We are given dominion over the earth. The verse mentioned above continues – “...Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26b). When we consider what a glorious thing the earth is, it is a monumental honor that man has been given dominion over it.

3. Jesus died that we might be saved. In Hebrews chapter two the Holy Spirit declares – “For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels.” (Hebrews 2:5). This, in a very subtle way shows the value that God places on human life. In other words, Jesus didn’t die to save angels but human beings!

In spite of this high regard for man in our own world we see many things which serve to “undercut” the value we place on the live’s of one another.

Things Which Undermine the Value of Human Life

War — Unlike some of my good brethren I do not believe that all physical warfare is sinful. Romans chapter thirteen says of civil authority – “For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.” (Romans 13:4). When one civil power “bears the sword” as an “avenger” of God’s wrath on another civil power who “practices evil” (in my judgment) such is a just war.

At the same time two things must be admitted. 1.) Even in a “just war” at least one side is doing wrong. 2.) Most likely the majority of physical warfare is waged because of hatred, greed, covetous and materialism.

In such cases warfare is the ultimate expression of the devaluation of human life. It declares to the opponent “your life is not worth preserving!” Because men want the property or status of others they devalue life. Because men hate the race, religion or nationality of others they devalue life.

Abortion — Abortion suggests to us that the value of human life depends largely on convenience or the quality of life. Our culture would tell a woman who has become pregnant at an inopportune time that abortion is actually a “loving” thing to do. They say that it spares a child from the misery of being born into a home where it is not wanted or a life that might be difficult. What abortion really does is lead us to believe that a human being is of so little value that it can be destroyed without remorse, consequence or punishment.

Some time back I heard about something which sounded like it came out of a science fiction or horror story. There is a company that operates in this country known as Cryogenic Solutions Inc. Reportedly this company works together with abortion clinics to freeze some of the cells of an aborted baby. The company then promises the woman who has the abortion that (for a fee) they can preserve the cells and then when the technology becomes available they can “regenerate” the child through a type of cloning procedure. This deceives the mother into thinking “I’m not really killing a child I’m putting it on lay away” (so to speak)!

This is a horrific example of the devaluation of human life! First, this technology does not yet and may never exist. (While they have in some cases been able to clone simple forms of animal life they are a long way from being able to do this with humans.) Second, even if it ever does exist the “regenerated” child would not be the aborted child, any more than two identical twins are the same child. Freezing some cells of a child that has been killed does not change the fact that a child has been killed.

Euthanasia — This is a fancy word which literally means “good death.” The Bible speaks of those who have a good death, those who pass from this life in faithfulness to the Lord. Revelation 14:13 declares to us – “...Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them’” (Revelation 14:13, NKJV). The term Euthanasia however describes ending someone else’s or one’s own life in order to end or prevent pain and/ or difficult circumstances. This past week a case was announced in the press where a man had to go to court to prevent his family from making arrangements with Dr. Jack Kervorckian (the doctor infamous for his participation in assisted suicide) to help his father who has Altzheimer’s disease from ending his own life. While certainly such circumstances are difficult to bear our efforts should focus on ways to ease pain and suffering, not hasten death.

The Bible from the beginning has limited the circumstances under which man can end human life. Genesis 9:6 declares – “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man.” Whether it be suicide or assisted suicide man has no right to act for God and decide for themselves when death should come simply on the basis of the difficulty of circumstances.

Racism — Though subtle, it must be admitted that racism also undermines the value of human life. It leads us to believe that there are some people (generally those like us) who are of value, and other people who are not. The first church I ever preached for was a little rural church in Missouri. When passing out some cards announcing a special lesson we were planning a man in the community noticed some Hebrew writing I had put on the announcement as a decoration. After inquiring about this the man then proceeded to tell me that he believed that Jesus was not a Jew. Going on further he announced that it was his conviction that while God had created “White men” all Jews and Black people had evolved from apes. Apart from the fact that his view was totally contrary to the facts of both Scripture and even history it was also a horrible example of undermining the value of human life. This man had classified some human beings as creatures made in the image of God and others as nothing more than animals.

Pornography — It is little wonder that matters such as abortion and euthanasia have become so prominent given the fact that even before these issues came to the forefront our culture began to accept pornography a an acceptable part of life! It becomes more difficult each year for Christians to find movies on television or rentals that do not inject into them pornographic scenes.

Pornography not only assists men and women in the violation of the Lord’s condemnation of lust (Matthew 5:27-30), and immodesty (I Timothy 2:9) but it leads the participants to view one another as nothing more than flesh and bones. Several years ago Dr. James Dobson had an exclusive interview with Ted Bundy the (hideous serial murderer and rapist). Bundy illustrated most graphically that when a person first begins to look at others as simply images for their own gratification it is a short step to believing that their life is of so little value that it may be abused and taken at will.

As Christians let us continue to stand up for the Biblical declarations of man’s worth. Let us allow the fact that God has cared so much about us lead us to care more deeply for others. Though the world around us may come to view others as worthless let us be constant and clear voices in declaring the eternal value of human life!

Pope, Kyle. "The Value of Human Life" Christianity Magazine 13.5 (May 1996): 9  
(The article which ran in Christianity Magazine did not have the section on war).  

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