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!!!!! WARNING !!!!!
extract is taken from a piece called The Sanctity of Human Life by Carrie
Gordon Earll and says it all most eloquently. It was taken from Family.org,
a website with a focus on the family.
"Human life is sacred. These words are often quoted in one form or another in an attempt to explain a pro-life view on issues like abortion and euthanasia. While respect for the sanctity of human life is the foundation of the pro-life movement what does this respect look like in the real world? How can we as Christians incorporate this reverence for human life into our daily lives?
A recognition of the sacredness of human life is deeply rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition. The sanctity of human life is first described in the Holy Bible in Genesis 1:27: "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (NKJV). Scholars (Cameron, O’Mathuna) note that being created in the image of God (imago Dei) means more than having certain abilities and attributes. It means that humans are the images of God, regardless of what they can or cannot do. This image bearing of the Creator is a privilege extended uniquely to humans. No other "creation" of God can make this claim.
In God's eyes, we are each endowed with a touch of Himself. Each human carries within his or her being the eternal, holy breath of God, the Creator. Therefore, each human life exists as an expression of God and His character. We are not merely flesh and blood. We are all image-bearers of the Living God. Since we embody God's image, the sacredness of our lives, and the dignity it demands, is based on something beyond our characteristics or abilities – it is rooted in the essence of God Himself. This touch or likeness of God bestowed on each human creation is not tangible: you cannot see, touch or smell it. It is part of the mystery of life.
Human dignity is innate, bestowed upon us by God. It is not based on our ability to care for ourselves or our competence to perform a task. Being dependent upon others does not cause us to lose our dignity. Dignity is not a characteristic we can forfeit — it is an integral part of who we are.
However, we live in a culture that does not recognize the intrinsic distinction of individual worth. Therefore, we must reinforce the immutable existence of human dignity through the affirmation of those who are dependent and weak. In this context, dignity takes on a second form: becoming a quality recognized by a society in its members. Your dignity is affirmed and strengthened when members of your family and community care for you in a weakened state. Those who love and care for you during times of senility or incontinence declare your dignity and value apart from the tasks you can no longer accomplish independently. Our willingness to serve and be served in this time of physical weakness demonstrates our recognition of human dignity.
Society’s failure to honour human dignity is evidenced in the sentiments of our age. We live in a time in which people would rather die than continue living with less than a perfect "quality of life." This attitude is reflected in comments such as, "I would rather die than live in a wheelchair," or, "If I had cancer, what would be the point of living?" Such proclamations are the byproducts of a society that reserves dignity for those who exhibit physical ability and control. Therefore, it should be no surprise that dependency is looked upon as the ultimate weakness. The end of life potentially situates each of us at a place we would rather not be: in need of the care and comfort of others. Demanding independence as a criterion for dignity promulgates a cultural acceptance of solutions such as euthanasia, rather than compassionate care for those who cannot care for themselves.
Currently, our society is not one of "nurture." Therefore, people fear becoming a burden. They fear losing their independence (e.g., incontinence or using a wheelchair) because dependence is viewed as a weakness. These fears are based on an unspoken, yet dangerous, understanding in our culture that independence is required for a good quality of life. Dignity is restored as we counter this view through our witness as we care for each other in our times of dependence and need.
Why has the Sanctity of Life ethic eroded in our culture?
First, we need to understand the spiritual source of this disrespect for life. In John 10:10, we learn that satan’s goal is to steal, kill and destroy those made in the Image of God. He is motivated by hatred for those who reflect the Image of the Holy God — the same God who threw him out of heaven because he wanted to be like God (Isaiah 14:14, "I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High"). The enemy of our souls will always attack and seek to destroy human beings created in the Image of God. Thankfully, the good news is found in the second part of John 10:10 as Jesus declares that He has come to give life abundantly.
It is within this spiritual context that we can better view the examples in our society where satan has temporarily succeeded in destroying God’s creation: legalized abortion, non-consensual experimentation on human embryos, increased violence and a move toward legalizing physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia, among others. Satan is a ruthless adversary yet not a creative one. His mission — to "seek, kill and destroy" those created in the Image of God — will be with us until the end of the age. Our challenge is to reestablish the Sanctity of Life ethic in our generation, restoring the value and worth of all human life from conception to natural death.
What can you do?
There is mounting evidence that our secular society’s disregard for the value of human life has wrought unspeakable tragedy. One only needs to mention the cities of Jonesboro, Paducah and Littleton, the sites of recent fatal school shootings, to be vividly reminded that the absence of a sanctity ethic results in the destruction of human life.
Restoration of this life ethic must begin with the Church. Even as Christians, we fail to comprehend the value of every life because we have ceased to look at each other in awe. We fail to recognize that each person with whom we come in contact bears the Image of the Living God. We no longer view each other as breathtaking creatures, embodying the Creator Himself.
Since respect for human life is based on recognizing God as the Creator and man created in His likeness, any nation that abandons God will abandon respect for His Creation. A culture without God cannot recognize the innate value of each human being created in His Image. The sacredness of life is extremely difficult to grasp without God in the equation. Unfortunately, confusion regarding the origin of humanity is not confined to the world. Churches must teach the truth about the value of life.
A culture without God cannot recognize the innate value of each human being created in His Image.
Concerning these changes in society, author and theologian Nigel Cameron, Ph.D. recently wrote, "The old ethical tradition of the sanctity of life and the dignity of the individual is opened to fundamental revision. Are there human beings whose lives lie outside the pale of sacredness?" Our collective answer must be "no." All human beings lives are sacred and worthy of protection.
So, what can you do to help restore the Sanctity of Life ethic?
First, restoration can begin as close to home as your own heart. It is safe to say that most Christians are not murdering their neighbors with handguns. However, we should examine our own hearts for attitudes toward our fellowman that sow seeds of contention against the Sanctity of Human Life ethic. We must struggle against the subtle ways we dishonor or fail to acknowledge the intrinsic worth of each individual.
This disrespect may erupt through our disdain for someone we do not know on the basis of his or her appearance, a negative comment made under our breath or our impatience with a slow driver in the automobile ahead of us on the highway. The heart sins of superiority, contempt and slander are more frequently committed by Christians than the crimes of assault, rape or murder. Granted, the physically violent and illegal acts of murder, etc., are more commonly associated with a violation of the Sanctity of Life ethic. Yet, these seemingly minor and unimportant sins of our hearts are, in fact, expressions of disrespect for God’s Image in our world. These heart sins represent the core of our fallen nature — the very nature that motivates man to violate man, thereby violating God.
Second, we need to teach the next generation a respect for all human life: parents teaching children through word and deed, and Sunday school teachers instructing students through specifically pro-life curriculum and group and individual Bible study, to name a few. If our children feel cherished and respected, they will better grasp the notion of sacred human life. Spiritual leaders must make the subject of life an integral part of church activities and teaching. The affirmation of life can also be modeled through church support of pro-life pregnancy centers and hospices.
Finally, we must continue to support public policy that protects human life and oppose legislation that threatens it. Examples include supporting legislation guaranteeing mothers receive factual information about their unborn child before an abortion and opposing bills to legalize physician-assisted suicide. Active efforts to defend life cannot cease while the Church works to reintroduce the value of each life. The law is a teacher, and Christians must remain active to advocate for the passage of life-affirming laws that restore the Sanctity of Life ethic in our society."
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