The Sanctity of Human Life

(Greek words can be viewed using the Symbol font)

Pastor Scott L. Harris

Grace Bible Church, NY

January 2004

The Sanctity of Human Life

Selected Scriptures

Introduction

This morning I want to talk about the sanctity of life. Part of the reason
for this is that this Thursday, Jan. 22nd, is the anniversary of the 1973 Roe
vs. Wade decision. In the 31 years since that day, more than 40 million American
babies have been aborted. Infanticide has also increased as a percentage of
homicides. The American homicide rate is 11th in the world, but our are rate of
murder of those under 4 years old (not counting abortion) is No. 1 in the world.
The abortion drug R.U. 486 has been approved for use in the United States
despite its negative medical side effects. In 1994, Oregon passed the "Death
with Dignity" act. In the first five years 129 people legally killed themselves
in that State under the provisions of this law. Thankfully, other states have
not been successful in passing such laws, and the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld
the suicide prevention laws that have been legally challenged, including here in
New York. In light of these attacks on the right to life, it is good for us to
look at the Bible and know why human life is valuable.

The Value of Human Life

Many of the arguments against attacks on human life such as abortion,
infanticide, and euthanasia are very logically presented to persuade a person
that these things are not good and should be stopped. One line of reasoning even
includes the negative economic impact of having 40 million fewer consumers,
while another line of argument portray abortion providers as an evil big
business. (The emphasis being it is evil because it big business making multiple
millions of dollars per year). However, unless there is some absolute ethical
reason that human life has intrinsic value, then all logical arguments against
murdering a human will collapse.

If human life is put into simple economic terms, then strong arguments can be
made that society is better off killing its nonproductive members. It is cheaper
for the government to pay for an abortion than for it to pay all the welfare
costs in raising a child to adulthood. It is less expensive to kill an
handicapped child than it is to pay for medical and rehabilitation costs
associated with helping such a child. Vast amounts of money could be saved in
medical costs alone if active euthanasia was practiced on those who are old and
get sick. As harsh as these ideas sound to us, there are those in our society
that advocate them.

Some will argue that human life is valuable simply because it is human, but
immediately the arguments began about why human life should be valued more than
other types of life, or what qualities about a human make that life valuable.
There are many in our society that do not believe human life is more valuable
than any other type of animal life, with some seemingly valuing animal life more
than human life. At the foundation of this argument is an evolutionary
philosophy. If humans are simply animals that have evolved like all other
animals, then there is nothing to say that mankind is more important than any
other life form.

The other side of this argument is that humans are valuable because they
possess certain qualities that animals do not. That leaves the door open for the
quality of life arguments. That means that an individual whose life does not
meet the quality of life standards set by whatever current powers may be will
lose the right to continue to live. Ultimately this is the basis for the current
case concerning Terri Schindler-Schiavo in Florida. Her husband, Michael, does
not think her quality of life is high enough to justify the care being given to
her. He wants to all treatment including food and water to be withheld. He wants
her to starve to death. It is hard to believe that he has some real concern
about Terri’s wishes when he is currently having an affair with another woman,
and will gain several hundred thousand dollars when she dies. He has already
been using the money granted to Terri for rehabilitation to pay lawyers in the
effort to kill her.

If the superior qualities of human life are not what make men valuable, then
what does? Why should humans be considered more valuable than animals? Why
shouldn’t economics be the deciding factor of who lives and who dies? Why
shouldn’t abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia be practiced? What basis is
there for believing that human life has intrinsic value?

The answer is not found in man himself, but in the God who created him. Turn
to Genesis 1:26.

The Uniqueness of Man

On the 6th day of creation God made each of the beasts of the earth and the
creeping things after their own kind. He also made man, but we find man is made
differently than the animals. In verse 26, God said, "Let Us make man in Our
image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and
over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over
every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." 27 And God created man in His
own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."

We find additional detail concerning this in chapter 2:7 which says, "Then
the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils
the breath of life; and man became a living being."
Later that day God took
a rib from Adam and from it fashioned Eve.

Like the animals, man was made from the material of the earth (except for Eve
who was made from Adam’s rib — she is refined dirt). Because of that, man
shares many common characteristics with animals in our physical body makeup. But
even in physical makeup the human body has many differences from other animals.
More importantly, unlike the animals, man had the breath of life breathed into
him by God himself. Unlike the animals, man became a living soul. Unlike the
animals, man was made in the image and likeness of God. These are the facts that
separate man from the animals. These are the reasons that man is more valuable
than animals or any other part of Creation. These are the reasons that man has
an intrinsic value greater than just having life itself. Man has a living soul
which means he has been given an eternal nature, and he is a reflection of God
his Creator.

What gives man his greatest value is that he is made in the image of God.
This is brought out in Genesis 9 when God institutes capital punishment for the
murder of a man. When Noah comes out of the Ark, God includes in his diet not
only the green plants but also animals (vs. 3) with the restriction that he may
not eat its blood. In verse 5 God commands what is to happen to an animal or man
that murders a man. "And surely I will require your life blood; from every
beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man’s brother I will
require the life of man. Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be
shed, for in the image of God He made man."

The issue of capital punishment for those who murder is not about the value
of life itself that was taken, but that human life is created as a reflection of
God. Murder is actually a rebellious act against God. The main reason for
capital punishment is God’s holiness, not determent, retribution or human
justice, even as important as those issues are. Some accuse those who advocate
the right to life as being inconsistent on this point. They say that if a person
truly valued human life they would be against capital punishment. However, the
same reason that makes man’s life valuable is the same reason that demands
capital punishment for murder. Man is made in the image of God. The
inconsistency is with so many of the abortion and euthanasia advocates who stand
against capital punishment. They value the life of a criminal, but they do not
value the life of an unborn baby or those whose quality of life is below their
standard.

 

Abortion

Many people are simply confused when it comes to abortion. It has become a
political football between those who believe in the right to life and those
affected by feminist philosophy that believe abortion is a right of a women to
control her own body. Many churches are confused about when a child becomes
human – at conception? 10 weeks? 6 months? birth? only if it breaths?

How do we respond to the arguments for abortion such as: "We must protect
a woman’s right to choose." "Without legal abortion women will die at the hands
of back alley butchers." "Abortion helps every child be a wanted child."
"Abortion protects people from experiencing the pain of having a quality of life
not worth living." "It would be cruel to make women who were pregnant by rape or
incest bear that child." "Don’t force your morality on others by making abortion
illegal."

The supreme question for true Christians is very simple. Our concern is not
all the philosophical arguments – though they should be addressed and can be
answered. Our concern is not the politics that have gotten involved in this
question – though we, as citizens of this nation have a responsibility before
God to be involved in setting the direction of our nation. Our concern cannot
even be how we are personally affected by the topic. Our concern has to be only
one thing – What does God think! We must be grounded in knowing what God
has said concerning human life, its nature, its value and how it is to be
treated. Until we know what God says, then we are only ignorant people adding
our opinions to the discussion. Once we know what God has said, then we can
respond appropriately and speak authoritatively to the issue

But what has God said? Even here there is confusion because of the senseless
talk of people claiming to speak for God. Remember, there are many false
prophets and deceived people out there who promote falsehood and foolishness.
Consider the letter to "Dear Abby" by a fellow who signed it "Bible Student."

Dear Abby – "A woman has the right to abort an accidental pregnancy if
she so chooses. The fetus is not a living soul, but a living organism. It is
part of the mother’s body – connected by the umbilical cord. The fetus is no
human soul until the umbilical cord is severed and the fetus takes its first
breath of air, and is able to survive on its own outside its mother’s body. The
Bible clearly states, "God breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life, and
man became a living soul (Gen. 2:7). – Bible Student

We shall see in the course of the message how erroneous this "Bible student"
is in his conclusion, but it does point out the great confusion we find in the
issue of abortion.

I have already pointed out from Genesis 1 & 2 that God is the creator of all
life. He created Adam from the dust of the ground, and then Eve from one of
Adam’s ribs (Gen. 1:27; 2:22). Jesus makes the same claim in Matthew 19:5 as
does Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:8,9. To deny that God created man and woman is to
deny the writings of Moses, and the Apostle Paul, and the words of Jesus Christ.

But more important to our discussion than the general fact that God created
human life, is that God controls the creation of each individual human life. The
life that is in the womb is not just the product of an act of two humans, but
also involves the action of God. Human life comes from the hand of God both
generally and specifically. Let me give you some examples.

1) Sarah – the wife of Abraham

In Genesis 16:1,2 Sarai tells Abram, "Now behold the Lord has prevented
me from bearing children
."
She understands that it is the Lord that
opens or closes the womb. In Genesis 17:15-19 Sarai’s name is changed to Sarah
and the birth of a son to her is promised. Note vs 16 "I will bless her and
indeed I will give you a son by her."
It is the Lord that will give
Abraham the son through Sarah. That is emphasized again in verse 19. "No, but
Sarah your wife shall bear you a son."
It would be Sarah herself that would
have the child and not anyone else on her behalf. It would be the Lord that
would accomplish this. In Genesis 21:2 – the promise is fulfilled, "and
the Lord did for Sarah as He had promised
. So Sarah conceived and bore a son
to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time of which God had spoken to
him."

2) Abimelech & his wife and maids.

Genesis 20:17,18 says, "And Abraham prayed to God: and God healed
Abimelech and his wife and his maids, so that they bore children, For the
Lord had closed fast all the wombs
of the household of Abimelech because of
Sarah."
Part of God’s judgement against Abimelech was that neither his wife
or maids could conceive children until after Abraham prayed to God. God
controlled what happened in their wombs.

3) Isaac and Rebekah.

Genesis 25:21. "And Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife,
because she was barren; and the LORD answered him and Rebekah his wife
conceived
."
Rebekah could have not children until the Lord answered
Isaac’s prayer and opened her womb.

4) Jacob & Rachel

A similar case is that of Rachel. In Genesis 30:1 Rachel is complaining to
Jacob because her sister Leah (Jacob’s other wife) is bearing lots of children
(which Gen. 29:31 says that is because the Lord opened her womb). Jacob responds
in verse 2, "Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of
the womb?"
It is not until the end of the chapter, vs 22, that we find, "Then
God remembered Rachel, and gave heed to her and opened her womb
. So she
conceived and bore a son…"

5) Hannah – 1 Samuel 1:5

Verse 5, "…but the Lord had closed her womb."

Verse 11 – Hannah’s prayer that the Lord would give her a son.

Verse 19,20, "And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered
her
and it came about in due time, after Hannah had conceived, that she gave
birth to a son; and she named him Samuel, ‘Because I have asked him from the
Lord."

6) Ruth 4:13, "So Boaz took Ruth; and she became his wife, and he went
into her. And the Lord gave her conception, and she gave birth to a son
.

7) The testimony of Job

Job 10:8-12; "Thy hands fashioned and made me altogether, And
wouldst Thou destroy me? Remember now, that Thou hast made me as clay;
And wouldst Thou turn me into dust again? Didst Thou not pour me out like milk,
And curdle me like cheese; Clothe me with skin and flesh, And knit me
together with bones and sinews
?
Job 31:15, "Did not He who made me
in the womb make him, And the same one fashion us in the womb
? Job 33:4,
Elihu also gives testimony, "The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of
the Almighty gives me life."

8) The testimony of the Psalms.

Psalm 22:9,10, "Yet Thou art He who didst bring me forth from the womb;
Thou didst make me trust when upon my mother’s breasts. Upon Thee I was cast
from birth; Thou has been by God from my mother’s womb."

Psalm 100:3, "Know that the LORD, Himself is God; It is He who has made
us, and not we ourselves
; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture."

Psalm 127:3, "Behold, children are a gift of the LORD; The fruit of
the womb is a reward."

Psalm 139:13-16, "For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me
in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and
wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, And my soul knows it very well. My
frame was not hidden from Thee, When I was made in secret, and skillfully
wrought in the depths of the earth. Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Thy book they were all written, The days that were ordained for me, When
as yet there was not one of them."

What more need be said? Is there any doubt that each individual in the womb
is there because God has been at work? God opens or closes the womb. God forms
the individual in the womb. A child in the womb is not just the "product of
conception" as euphemistically referred to during abortions. He or she is a
unique individual formed by God. The argument that the un-born child is part of
the woman’s body is totally false both in terms of its spiritual identity before
God and its physical/genetic makeup. Physically, the child is separate from but
totally dependent upon the mother. Genetically the child is a mixture of her
chromosomes and that of the father and thereby a unique individual. She does not
have a right to terminate the life of the body growing within her. I will add
that she has a responsibility to protect and nurture that baby within her.
Mothers who neglect to protect their children are charged with child
endangerment.

Let me also add that the claim that a woman has a right over her own body is
erroneous. If she is a Christian, her body belongs to the Lord (1 Cor. 6:19,20).
If she is married, she belongs to her husband – just as he belongs to her (1 Cor.
7:4). We humans are not as autonomous as we would like to think.

But what about the argument that the unborn child is not human until it is
outside the womb – breathing on its own?

The Scriptures we have examined have already hinted at the Biblical concept
that a child is fully human at conception, but lets examine some stronger
evidence.

1) Luke 1:39-45

"Now at this time Mary arose and went with hast to the hill country, to a
city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. And it
came about that when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her
womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out
with a loud voice, and said, ‘Blessed among women are you, and blessed is the
fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord
should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the baby leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she who believed that
there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.

How did the unborn infant John the Baptist respond to the presence of the
unborn infant Jesus if neither of them were human and John in possession of a
soul to recognize the Messiah. Lets add to that -

2) Jeremiah 1:4,5

"Now the Word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘Before I formed you in the
womb, I knew you; and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed
you a prophet to the nations."

I do not know when the Lord formed my soul, but according to this passage, it
was before my conception. The question of when a human becomes a true human in
terms of "potentiality" or its ability to survive outside the womb is a non
issue because the word of God is clear that at conception a human life is
created and that he or she has a soul. To end that life by abortion is nothing
less than murder – the willful taking of a human life. That is the choice
pro-choice people are talking about. They want the freedom to murder.

As we have already seen, it is a seriousness sin to take a human life because
it is a direct attack against God, for human life was made in His image. Paul
reaffirms this in 1 Cor. 11:7 saying that man "is the image and glory of
God…"

Man as an image bearer of God has a soul and an eternal nature and is
therefore of infinite more importance than any animal. Yet, with the current
state of abortion in our land, man has less value than an animal. You cannot
treat animals in a slaughterhouse the way babies are treated in an abortion
clinic. If you did, there would be animal rights groups all around you trying to
close your business down with the backing of animal protection laws. All you
need to do to understand this is read how various abortion procedures are done.
I will not do that now, but one of the information sheets on the back table
does.

You should also know that less than 4% of all abortions are due to rape,
incest or medical threat to the mothers’ life. Several studies put the figure at
less than 2%. The real motivations behind abortions are to hide illicit sex,
lessen financial hardship, remove an obstacle that would block a current goal -
school, career, etc., preserve physical sex appeal, sex selection of the child,
appease the father. In short, it is homicide for the sake of personal
convenience. But then we live in a convenience society. How easy to dispose of
the problem by dumping him or her in the trash.

Abortion is nothing less than the willful taking of a human life by another
human. It is a crime against humanity – but even more significant, it is a crime
against God Himself. Let us realize that abortion is an attack against God among
all the other things that it is.

Infanticide and Euthanasia

Everything the Bible says about murder also applies to infanticide and
euthanasia. There is no question about a baby that is already born being human.
The reasons for infanticide and euthanasia are that the murder of individual
makes it easier for the survivors. In the cases of those who are severely
handicapped in some way or are old and sick there are those that advocate their
death as "mercy killing." There are two major problems with this line of
thinking.

First, in Exodus 4:11 God makes it clear to Moses that He makes the dumb, the
deaf, the seeing, and the blind. Moses could not speak eloquently, but God would
use that handicapped to glorify Himself. There is no right to health, that comes
as a mercy from God. In John 9, Jesus pointed out a particular man who was born
blind so that the works of God might be displayed in him. He then healed the
man. It is not up to the individual or others to decide the value of life based
on some judgment of its quality. All people are created for God’s glory. It is
up to Him to determine how he will use the individual.
We can add to this
that just because a person cannot do things that you can does not mean that they
do not value their own lives even when the handicapped seems extreme to you.

Second, it is not up to man to decide when he will die. The timing of a
person’s death is also up to God (Job 14:5; 30:23; Ps 89:46-48; Heb. 9:27). For
someone else to play God and purposely take a life is murder. For a person to
play God and purposely take their own life is suicide – self-murder. Suicide is
always presented as a negative in Scripture. Like Paul in Philippians 1, the
Christian may long for Heaven which is very much better than life here, but we
remain in the flesh for the sake of others and let God determine when we go
home. Infanticide, euthanasia and suicide are all acts of selfishness.

What is our responsibility toward these issues? Lets keep in mind first of
that people, even an unborn child, are neighbors.

In Matthew 22 Jesus reaffirmed the O.T. laws when He said in verses 37, 39
that the two great commandments are to 1) love God with all your heart, soul and
mind, and 2) love your neighbor as yourself. How then can and should we respond
to our neighbors?

First, we need to respond with the message of hope – the gospel. Understand
that the people involved in abortion, infanticide and the euthanasia movement
are dupes of the devil, blinded by the god of this age. Even the most evil
abortionist in really nothing more than a pawn of Satan. Women more often feel
the guilt of the sin, but the men involved are just as responsible and guilty
before God. We need to let them know that God can and will forgive them if they
will ask. Jesus came to die on the Cross to pay the penalty for our sins – all
of them. Abortion can be forgiven. Our first response needs to be the offer of
the hope of the gospel to guilt ridden people.

Second, we need to be informed. We need to be aware of the issues involved,
what occurs in abortions, the laws that pertain to these issues and the
activities of organizations that are striving to stem the tide of blood. I have
literature on the back table about these issues.

Third, we need to pray. I put this after being informed because we need to be
informed in order to pray intelligently and specifically. Prayer needs to be
more than just saying, "God, do something about all this killing." We need
informed, fervent prayer such as: "Lord God, abortion, infanticide, euthanasia
and suicide are all abominations before you and an attack against you. Show me
how I can help prevent them. Give me opportunity to share the hope of the gospel
to those who are hurting because of these great sins. Give me opportunity to
share your truths with those who may be considering them. Lord, direct our
leaders in dealing with these issues. May your Holy Spirit bring conviction upon
their souls and change their hearts and minds and conform them to your will.
Remove as you see fit those who oppose your law, etc.".

Fourth, Financial support. Again, there are many organizations fighting these
evils. Each one has a different mission. Some are primarily educational, some
political, some activist, some provide personal care to those considering
abortion – crises pregnancy counselling, homes for unwed mothers, adoption
agencies. All of them can use financial support. Check some of them out to see
if the Lord would want you involved on this level.

Fifth, get personally involved. Maybe you can be involved in some of the
political ramifications – write letters to / call on your representatives. Maybe
you can be a pro-life speaker going to schools, clubs, and other organizations
to present the truth about the infant in the womb. Maybe you can take time to be
involved with a Life Savers or the Crises Pregnancy Center. Or perhaps you could
even provide a home for a pregnant woman who is in difficult circumstances and
share the love of Christ with them. Even if you can not provide a home, you can
provide friendship and emotional support. The brochure included in last week’s
bulletin even tells you how to help extend someone’s life through donation of
your own organs and tissues when you die. I would personally encourage you to
enroll on the New York State Organ and Tissue Donor Registry. Perhaps the Lord
might use a body part you know longer need because you are with Him to extend
the life of another Christian, or extend the life of a non-Christian that they
may yet hear the gospel and the saved.

Pray and let God show you how and at what level He would want you involved,
and then do it.

Sermon
Study Sheets

KIDS CORNER

Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives.
Here is some help.

Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the
sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children -
Do one or more of the following: 1) Write down all the verses mentioned in the
sermon and look them up later. 2) Count how many times the word "life" is said.
Talk with your parents about the value of human life, and what you can do to
help protect it.

THINK ABOUT IT!

Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others.

What are some of the negative consequences of the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision?
What have been the economic consequences of abortion since 1973? Why are
economics a poor argument against abortion, infanticide, euthanasia? What is the
relevance of quality of life issues to the value of human life? What unique
features of men separate him from all animals? Why is this important? What is
the biblical basis for capital punishment? How has politics confused the
abortion debate? What is the primary pro-life argument? What is the primary
pro-abortion argument? What is the primary concern of the Christian on these
issues? What is God’s involvement in human life both generally and specifically?
What scriptures support you review? When there’s a human life receive
personhood/a soul? Support your answer. Less than 4% of all abortions are due to
rape, incest or medical threat to the mothers life “€“what are the primary
motivations behind abortions? What is infanticide? What is euthanasia? What is
suicide? What biblical principles apply to these? What is the problem with
"mercy killing"? Backup your answer Biblically. What is the problem with
suicide? Backup your answer Biblically. What do you think of organ/tissue
donation? What is the Christian’s responsibility toward all these issues? What
is your involvement with these issues? Should you do more? If so, what?

 

Sermon Notes – January 18, 2004

Introduction

The Value of Human Life

    Secular Arguments

    The Uniqueness of Man

        Genesis 1:26

        Genesis 9

Abortion

    God and Human Life

        1. Sarah – Genesis 16:1,2;
17:15-19

        2. Abimelech – Genesis 20:17,18

        3. Isaac and Rebekah – Genesis
25:21

        4. Jacob and Rachel – Genesis
30:1,2

        5. Hannah – 1 Samuel 1:5, 11,
19-20

        6. Ruth 4:13

        7. Testimony of Job – Job 10:8-12

        8. Testimony of the Psalms: Ps.
22:9,10; 100:3; 127:3; 139:13-16

    The Human Soul

        1. Luke 1:39-45

        2. Jeremiah 1:4,5

Infanticide and Euthanasia

    Exodus 4:11John 9

    Job 14:5; 30:23; Ps 89:46-48; Heb. 9:27

Responding

    A. The Gospel

    B. Be Informed

    C. Pray

    D. Financial Support

    E. Personal Involvement