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The Sanctity of Life!

August 23, 2010

In a previous post i mentioned that i would be writing a few thoughts about Leslie Cannold’s book “The Abortion Myth” and some of the things that caught my attention. I have decided to abort this idea because i just don’t think her research was solid enough to argue her view. That being said, i have decided to share some thoughts from R.C. Sproul’s book “Abortion: A Rational Look at an Emotional Issue,” which i am currently reading. It is not because Sproul tackles his view from a Christian perspective that i have made this choice. Rather, his reasoning is simply better. If someone were to write a pro-choice book with proper reasoning, i would include it here, as a chance for pro-life people to get an understanding of the pro-choice arguments, but Cannold’s book just doesn’t stand up. Mr. Sproul, please …,

“Any ethical matter that has life and death implications forces us to deal with the larger issue of the sanctity or sacredness of life. War, capital punishment, euthanasia, homicide, abortion–all are sanctity of life issues.

“Since a central issue in the abortion debate is the question of when life begins, is the discussion clouded by introducing the matter of the overall sanctity of life? If pro-abortion and pro-life advocates do not consider abortion the destruction of human life, it would seems that all parties in the dispute may have an equal concern for the sanctity of life. The pro-abortionists and pro-choice advocates are not denying life is sacred; they are only saying that a developing fetus is not a human life.

“In Biblical terms, the sanctity of human life is rooted and grounded in creation. Mankind is not viewed as a cosmic accident but as the product of a carefully executed creation by an eternal God. Human dignity is derived from God. Man as a finite, dependent, contingent creature is assigned a high value by his creator. The creation account in Genesis provides the framework for human dignity: “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So 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).

“Being created in the image of God is what sets humans apart from all other creatures. The stamp of the image and likeness of God connects God and humankind uniquely. Though there is no biblical warrant for making man godlike, there is a high view of dignity associated with this unique relationship to the Creator.

“It has often been thought that whatever dignity was given humankind through creation was erased or cancelled through the Fall. Since evil mars the countenance of human beings, is the original image still intact? Because of the Fall, something profound has stained the greatness of humanity. Therefore, we now must distinguish between the image of God in both a wide and a narrow sense. The image of God in the narrow sense concerns mankind’s ethical capacity and behavior. In creation, man was given the ability and responsibility to mirror and reflect the holy character of God. Since the Fall, the mirror has been splotched by the grime of sin. We have lost our capacity for moral perfection, but with this ethical loss, we have not lost our humanity.

“Man may no longer be pure but he is still human. In so far as we are still human, we retain the image of God in the wider sense. We are still valuable creatures. We may no longer be worthy, but we still have worth. This is the resounding biblical message of redemption. The creatures God creates are the same creatures He is moved to redeem. Because Christians carry on so loudly about human sin, do they have a low view of humanity? Indeed, there is a low view of the human performance of virtue, but not a corresponding low view of human worth or importance. It is precisely because the Bible has such a high view of human dignity that human sin is taken so seriously. If one rat steals another rat’s food we don’t get morally outraged. But if one human steals another human’s food then we become concerned.

“The biblical view indicates that human theft is more serious than rat theft because humans are a higher order of being. As the Psalmist indicated, we are created a “little lower than the heavenly beings” (Psalm 8:5). This ranking of value is deeply rooted within our own humanity. When the president of the U.S.A is killed we do not refer to the deed merely as homicide or murder. We have a special word for it: assassination.

“During the news reports that followed the announcement of the assassination of President John Kennedy, the reporters seemed to have difficulty finding the words powerful enough to express their outrage. They called it a “diabolical act,” a “fiendish act,” an “inhuman act,” and other such terms. I wondered at the time what made it difficult to describe Kennedy’s murder simply as one human being killing another human being. Not only a devil or a fiend can commit murder. A person is not instantly shorn of humanity when he/she kills another human. Lee Harvey Oswald was a human being when he pulled the trigger in Dallas.

“Does this mean then in the hierarchy of value that President Kennedy had more human dignity than Officer Tippet, who was killed the same day in the same city by the same man? By no means! The murder of Officer Tippet was just as much an assault on his dignity as the murder of Kennedy was on his. Each was a human person. Each had personal worth and dignity. Kennedy’s person was no more laden with dignity than Tippet’s. What made the outrage over Kennedy’s death greater than that over Tippet’s death was the office Kennedy held. John Kennedy was the president of the U.S. He was the supreme “publica persona” of our land.

“It is by similar reason that an offense against a human is more outrageous than an offense against a rat. Both the rat and the human are creatures created by God. But the office of a person is considerably higher than the office of the rat. It is humankind-not the rat-who is made in the image of God. It is the human who is given a role of dominion over the earth. Man, not the rat, is God’s vice-regent over creation.”

I want to thank R.C. Sproul for asking this question, before even getting to the issue of the life of the child in the mother’s womb, and whether it is in fact a life at all. Understanding the sanctity of life of everyone is something that we sometimes forget about when trying to understand the difficult issue of abortion.

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