Is Life a Right?
Is human life sacred? From the very beginning the Bible reveals that it is because human beings are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27).
The Bible portrays God’s personal involvement in humankind’s creation, and the emphasis throughout is on man’s divinely imparted uniqueness as made in God’s image. That divine image was distorted but not destroyed by man’s fall into sin. God communicated with Adam and Eve both before sin entered the world (Genesis 1:28) and immediately after the Fall (Genesis 3:9), promising His intervention to bring redemption and restoration (Genesis 3:15).
God tells fallen but regenerate human beings, “Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding” (Psalm 32:9), but instead look to Him to instruct “and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go” (Psalm 32:8).
The central truth that emerges from these Bible verses is that human life is sacred, thus distinct in nature and design from all other life; and the differences are of kind, not degree. We are not merely the most advanced life in the animal kingdom. The Bible tells us that all life deserves respect, but that human life demands reverence.
If human life is sacred, when does it begin? The Bible reveals God’s intense interest in each human life from before conception onward. God told Jeremiah, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee” (Jeremiah 1:5). Job said, God “made me in the womb” (Job 31:15).
The psalmist speaks vividly: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your words are wonderful . . . your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:13-16, NIV).
In Psalm 51:5 David says, “I have been . . . sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (HCSB). God revealed to David that he had a sin nature from the moment of conception onward. Since only human beings with a soul and a spirit possess a sin nature, human life begins at conception.
Is life a right? Since the Bible teaches that life is sacred and that it begins at conception, human life is a right that should be revered and protected from conception onward. God mandates protection for human life: “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13; see also Proverbs 6:16-17, NIV).
God is the giver and sustainer of life (Genesis 2:7; Colossians 1:15-20). Our world needs desperately to hear this truth. Human life, from conception to death and at all points in between, is under violent assault. Unborn babies, handicapped infants, the terminally ill, and the aged and infirm are merely the first to be victimized. The Bible tells us that all life deserves respect, but that human life demands reverence.
Many now seek to overturn the Bible’s sanctity of life ethic, which sees human beings as possessing a sacred, God-given right to life as an inherent part of human nature. They would replace the Bible’s view of humanity with a “quality of life” ethic that makes human beings the arbiters of whether other human beings possess the potential for a sufficient “quality” of life to be allowed continued existence.
Our country since its inception has based its beliefs about human life on a sanctity of life ethic. Our Declaration of Independence declares that “human beings are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights” and “that among these are Life. . . . ”
Christians must sound the clarion call against all attitudes and actions that assault the sacredness of human life. We must bear witness by deed as well as by word that human life is sacred. It is a precious, irreplaceable gift from God. We must oppose the barbaric, lethal combination of technical expertise and spiritual ignorance that would deny human life’s sacredness and that would abort and experiment on our pre-born, harvest fetal tissue, allow death into the nursery for our mentally and physically handicapped infants and encourage euthanasia in our hospitals and retirement homes.
Let us, as brothers and sisters in Christ, covenant together to pray for the discernment and the diligence to do this and more.
Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version unless otherwise noted; those marked (NIV) are from the New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by the International Bible Society. Scripture quotations marked “HCSB: are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible ®, Copyright © 2002 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission.