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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
The Value of Human Life
This morning, in keeping with the theme set in Sunday School and in the
special presentation by Deborah Townsend from the Care Net Pregnancy Center, I
want to talk with you about the value of Human Life. I have spoken on related
topics in years past including abortion, infanticide & euthanasia, medical care
and capital punishment. This morning I want to concentrate on the more general
topic of why human life has value and its ramifications.
The Value of Human Life
There are a variety of reasons that people present to try and give value to
human life, but unless those reasons are grounded in something that is both
intrinsic to every human and superior to human ability, then either the reasons
will collapse or be safely ignored. There are many arguments against abortion,
infanticide, and euthanasia which are very logically presented to persuade a
person that these practices are not good and should be stopped, but because they
are based in human reasoning alone, the arguments collapse.
Fore example, there are those that reason that abortion is bad because there
is a negative economic impact of having 40+ million fewer consumers. Others
argue that abortion is bad because abortion providers are an evil big business.
(The emphasis being it is evil because it big business making multiple millions
of dollars per year). However, 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 sick. As harsh as this sounds to us, there are those in
our society that advocate them, and they win the economic argument.
Some people argue that human life is valuable simply because it is human, but
immediately the question arises about why human life should be valued more than
other types of life. There are many in our society that believe human life is no
more valuable than any other type of animal life, with some seemingly valuing
animal life more than human life. The foundation of this belief is an
evolutionary philosophy. If humans are simply evolved animals, then there is
nothing to say that mankind is intrinsically more important than any other life
There are those that would then argue that humans are valuable because they
possess certain qualities that other animals do not have. That opens the door
wide for quality of life arguments, for if the worth of an individual is based
on certain qualities, then if those qualities are lost, then so is their value.
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 which would result in her starving to
death. Personally, I find it hard to believe that he has any real concern about
Terri’s wishes since he has had an ongoing affair with another woman and will
gain several hundred thousand dollars when Terri dies. He is using the money
granted to Terri for rehabilitation to pay lawyers in his 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 dust 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. However,
regardless of any physical similarities, man is very different from animals. Man
had the breath of life breathed into him by God himself and became a living soul
which means he has been given an eternal nature. That makes man very unlike the
animals. Also unlike the animals, man was made in the image and likeness of God.
Man is a reflection of his Creator. These are the facts that separate man from
the animals and give him an intrinsic value greater than just having life itself
and more value than animals or any other part of Creation.
Made in the Image of God
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, but rather the value of that human life created as a reflection
of God. Murder is actually a rebellious action against God. The main reason for
capital punishment is not determent, retribution or human justice, even as
important as those issues are. The main reason for capital punishment is God’s
holiness. Some people 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 to save from abortion, infanticide or euthanasia 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 murderer for
whatever reason in defiance of what God says, but they do not value the life of
an unborn baby or those whose quality of life is below their standard.
Advocates of abortion, infanticide and euthanasia do not value human life
because they reject what God says about human life. Certainly there are
religious people that advocate these evils, but they do so in contradiction to
what God reveals about Himself and His will in the Bible. Whether they admit it
or not, what they are doing is trying to play God, and in doing so they
blaspheme and offend the God that made them. The offense is obvious in that they
disobey God’s commands, and their advocacy to destroy a creature that is made in
God’s image is blasphemy against Him. These are serious sins that have brought
God’s judgement upon individuals and societies in the past. Part of the reason
for the destruction of the Canaanites was their practice of infanticide as part
of their worship of Molech (Lev. 20:2; Deut. 12:31; 18:10-13). The lack of
justice, including for those murdered, was a reason for the oppression and
eventual deportation that came upon Israel & Judah (Deut. 28:15f; cf Isaiah 5;
Ezek. 22, etc.). As a nation, we should not assume God will continue to be as
longsuffering as He currently has been with us. His judgement will surely come
unless there is repentance.
Man wants to think of himself as autonomous, but he is not, for we are all
absolutely dependent on God for it is in Him that we live and move and have our
being (Acts 17:28), and it is His hand that holds all things together (Col.
1:17). Man would like to be a free moral agent that determines right and wrong
for himself, but he is not, for we are created beings that will be held
accountable by our Creator for how we lived (Rev. 20:12). Man would like to
decide what is important or not by his own wisdom, but man cannot for two
reasons. First, man’s does not have enough wisdom to accomplish that task for
even the wisest man is a foolish imbecile before God (1 Cor. 1:18-31). Second,
the value of something is determined by its owner, not someone else. Man belongs
to the God that Created him, not himself, and God places value on man because He
made man in His own image. That is why all men, regardless of their
intelligence, physical abilities or social standing have intrinsic value.
Loved by God
There is another reason that man has intrinsic value, and it is also related
to God. All humans break God’s commandments, and their personal sin places them
under God’ just condemnation. In addition, man has no means within himself by
which he can appease his Creator which he has so offended. All of man’s attempts
at righteous deeds are filthy before our Holy Creator (Isa. 64:6). God would be
perfectly just and righteous to toss every man, woman, boy and girl into
everlasting hell right now. Yet despite man’s willful disobedience, God loves
mankind and provided a way of salvation from sin and its consequences through
the person and work of Jesus Christ, who is God in human flesh. Jesus paid the
price necessary to redeem man from sin by dying on the cross in our place. He
suffered and died so that you could be forgiven and have eternal life. The value
of man is the value of the price God paid to redeem him from his sin. Tell me,
what is the value of Jesus’ life? At minimum, it is great enough to save
everyone who will come and believe in Him.
It is important to emphasize this truth. God values you so much that Jesus,
the second person of the triune Godhead, set aside the glories of heaven that
belong to Him and became a man and humbled Himself to the point of death on the
cross (Phil. 2:5-8). God did not do this because of anything in you, but because
of His own character of love (Romans 5:8). The value of human life is based on
what God declares it to be, which in this case is the value of the life of Jesus
Christ, the Son of God, and that is infinite.
Think about what these truths mean in your own life. Your value is not based
in how well you perform in school, or what you scored on an intelligence test,
or on what you can do physically, or how well you fit into societies concept of
beauty, or how well you behave, or on your family background, ethnic heritage,
or social class, or in what other people think of you, good, bad or indifferent.
It is not even based in what you think of yourself. Your value is based in God
creating you in His image and in His declared love for you proven in Jesus
Christ. That gives you a foundation of comfort, hope and security by which you
can face any of the nonsense that society throws at you in trying to bring you
down to its level and conform you into its image (Rom. 12:2). I like how Elias
Carrero responds to life’s difficulties or when people treat him wrongly. He
simply says, "I know that Jesus loves me, so its okay."
These truths also mean that abortion, infanticide, euthanasia and failure to
carry out capital punishment on murderers are all fundamentally wrong because
they fail to recognize and respect the proper value God has given to every
human. But there are also more specific commands and Biblical principles that
prove each of these are evil. I have already commented about capital punishment,
so lets quickly look at abortion, infanticide and euthanasia.
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
Our quest is to know what God says about it, for until we know what He says
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 about abortion? 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
The erroneous conclusion of this self proclaimed "Bible student" points out
the great confusion we find in the issue of abortion.
I have already pointed out from Genesis 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, the Apostle Paul, and the words of Jesus Christ.
But more important to our discussion about abortion 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 just a couple of quick
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 17:16 the Lord says, "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 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
2) Hannah – 1 Samuel 1:5
In verse 5 we find "…but the Lord had closed her womb." In verse 11
Hannah prays that the Lord would give her a son. In verse 19,20 we find, "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."
3) The testimony of the Psalms.
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."
God opens or closes the womb and He 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. A woman does not have a right to
terminate the life growing within her, instead she has a responsibility to
protect and nurture the baby in her.
Let me add that the claim that a woman has a right over her own body is also
erroneous. If she is married, she belongs to her husband, just as he belongs to
her (1 Cor. 7:4). But married or not and regardless of her own beliefs, her body
belongs to the Lord who created her (1 Cor 6:13). 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 and 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 look further.
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.
The unborn infant John the Baptist responded to the presence of the unborn
infant Jesus because the both were already human. Before he was born, John
already possessed a soul that recognized the Messiah
"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."
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 the willful taking of a
human life which is murder. That is the choice that pro-choice people talk
about. They want freedom to murder.
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 major reason for infanticide and euthanasia is that it makes life easier for
the survivors. Those that advocate so called "mercy killing" for those who are
severely handicapped in some way or are old and sick are wrong for two reasons.
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 the handicapped to glorify Himself. Also, 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 God to determine how He will use the individual.
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?
First, we need to respond with the message of hope, the gospel. 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 about 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 Care Net 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 the
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 no 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 be saved.
Pray and let God show you how and at what level He would want you involved,
and then do it.
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.
Why are economics / human ability a poor argument against abortion,
infanticide, euthanasia? What separates mankind from all animals? Why is this
important? What is the biblical basis for capital punishment? What is the
importance of man being made in the image of God? How has God responded in the
past to those that do not value human life? What price did God pay to redeem
mankind? What is the value of that price? How has politics confused the abortion
debate? What are the primary pro-life argument? What are the primary
pro-abortion argument? What is God’s involvement in human life both generally
and specifically? Does a woman have a right over her body? Why or why not? Is a
baby part of that body? Why or why not? When does a human life receive
personhood/a soul? Explain each of the following and the primary motivations for
them: abortion, infanticide, euthanasia? What biblical principles apply to
these? What is wrong with "mercy killing"? What is the Christian’s
responsibility toward all these issues? What is your involvement with these
issues? Should you do more? If so, what?
The National Right to Life Committee. (I; PA), 419 7th St. N.W. #500,
Washington, DC 2004, www.NLRC.org
New York State Right To Life Committee, Inc. (I; PA), 41 State Street,
Albany, NY 12207 518-434-1293,
Life Saver Ministries (CPC; H), 1863 County Highway 107, Amsterdam, NY
Care Net Pregnancy Center (CPC), 226 Church St., Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
Stop Planned Parenthood, Inc (I; A), P.O. Box 8, LaGrangeville, NY 12540
Focus on the Family , family.org (I., PA, S)
afterabortion.org (I, S)
National Council for Adoption, ncfa-usa.org (I, S)
(I = Informational. PA = Political Action. A = Activist. CPC = Crisis
Pregnancy Center. S = Support services. H = Home for crisis pregnancy mothers)
Sermon Notes – 3/20/05 a.m.
The Value of Human Life
The Uniqueness of Man
Made in the Image of God
Loved by God
Who makes man?
1. Genesis 16:1,2; 17:15-19
3. Testimony of the Psalms: Psalms 100:3; 127:3; 139:13-16
Individuality of the Unborn Baby
Whose Body is it?
When Human Life Begins
Infanticide and Euthanasia
A. The Gospel
B. Be Informed
D. Financial Support
E. Personal Involvement