What is the value of a human life? I’ve been reading about the Terri Schiavo case in Florida. While the facts of the case warrant concern in themselves, the issue most troubling to me is that so many people in our county think so little about human life and its dignity. Various surveys conducted by different groups suggest that the strong majority of people support the decision of the courts to remove the feeding tube and let Terri starve to death. Apparently this majority includes Christians like Chris Pixley, a defense attorney, who says that he is a Christian and against euthanasia, but sees the “ultimate question” in this case to be about federal court intervention.
It’s easy to hide behind the argument of legal intervention ” suggesting that the main issue is that of government’s interference into personal and tragic family decisions. But the real debate centers on the “quality of life” versus the “sanctity of life.” It’s the same issue that under girds any discussion of abortion, genetic engineering, cloning, or reproductive technologies involving embryos. It’s a debate over how valuable human life is. What if our experiments on embryos can cure cancer? What if a child might have a high probability for autism? What if the person is not able to speak or express ideas or interact with the world around him?
The Word of God describes the age in which we live: “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding to a form of godliness, although thy have denied its power” (2 Tim. 3:1-5). Such a people do not have time to worry about the dignity of inferior life.
But God is the defender of the widow and the orphan (Ex. 22:22-24). In fact, every human being is precious in the sight of God. Unlike any other living things – animals or plants – we are made in His image. “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness. And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen. 1:26-27). The value of being image bearers was so great, that anyone who is responsible for murder would himself forfeit his life: “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man” (Gen. 9:6).
Some oppose capital punishment by arguing that it doesn’t make sense kill someone who kills, because killing is wrong. This would only multiply killers in society. But notice the explanation given to us in Genesis 9:6 – “for in the image of God He made man.” The value of life is in the bearing of the image of God. It is so valuable, that any animal or human that ended an image bearer’s life must be put to death. It is not because the crime is so heinous, but because the victim is so precious to the Lord.
This is the same God by whom “the very hairs of our head are numbered” (Matt. 10:30). Better than any earthly father, the love of the Heavenly Father is expressed in his care for our earthly needs (Matt. 7:8-11). In fact, God “demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Why should God find flawed humanity so deserving of His love? He doesn’t – our preciousness is not derived from anything inherent in us. Even the image we bear is granted to us by God. We are created for His good pleasure and bear His image only because He has determined to give us worth. Human life is precious because God has deemed it so and our worth is not dependent on what we offer to society, how intelligent we might be, or what abilities we might possess.
Ultimately, our life is only worthwhile because the Creator God has made us for Himself. It is no coincidence that the apex of the New Covenant blessing is that He will be our God and we will be His people. The living and majestic God has fashioned every human life and each life is sacred and precious to Him. To forget that is to fall back into the law of the jungle: only the strong will survive. Our Savior is compassionate to the weak and the “bruised reed He will not break, and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish” (Is. 42:3). Do not allow societal morality to alter God’s definition of the dignity of life ” we are created as image bearers to the glory of God. All human life is precious to Him and it should be precious to His people.
Chris Pixley was part of a panel who appeared on CNN’s Nancy Grace Show. You can read the transcripts.
Also you might want to check with Al Mohler