God Values Life, So Should We—Selected Texts

INTRODUCTION

 

Sanctity of Life Sunday is a day to remember that life is a precious gift from God, whether it moments after conception or a frail, unconscious person moments from taking his last breath. Life is precious.

 

Several years ago, my first Christian mentor died of brain cancer. His final days were painful. His son, Jason, however, saw his father’s life as precious. The church that Jason pastored also saw his father’s life as precious and gave Jason all the time he needed to be with his father before he died. Jason wrote a thank you to his church:

 

Because of your kindness, I could be one to help Dad in those last few weeks when he first couldn’t put on his shoes, then his clothes, then couldn’t move from one place to another alone. You made it possible for me to be the one to spend his last night with, hold his hand, tell him I loved him, and witness his leaving for Home. “Thank you” will never seem like enough, but there are no other words (from an open letter to his church).

 

There are many today in our nation who would suggest that a lot of trouble, pain, and expense could be spared if, when someone like my friend got to the point of no return, we should simply inject them with a lethal drug and get it over with. It would be more convenient for everyone.

 

Abortion is a convenience issue as well. People will say that abortions are sometimes necessary to save the mother’s life; they pretend that there is a great medical necessity for abortions (a late-term abortion is NEVER medically necessary to save a mother’s life because the baby can be taken via C-section). The simple fact is that the vast majority of abortions are performed out of convenience, despite the rationalizations that might be put forth to justify it.

 

 

I have heard Christians argue, that although abortion is awful, shouldn’t a young woman have a chance to recover from a mistake? Should she have to live with the consequences of her mistake the rest of her life? I would say, “Yes, but to take that life by abortion only would compound her mistakes and give her the opportunity to make the same mistake again because the consequences were conveniently (sometimes literally) discarded in a trash bin.”

As Christians, we need to understand that the Bible teaches us that God values life…no matter how young or old, big or small. 

 

HOW DO WE KNOW THAT GOD VALUES UNBORN LIFE?

 

Follow me through the Bible for a few moments, as we look at how God values life:

 

1) The Image Of God

 

In Genesis we find that God created humanity in His image—

 

26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Genesis 1:26–27)

 

For God to have created us in His image and placed us in a position of responsibility and leadership over creation shows us the value that He places on human life.

 

One of the biggest points of contention in the abortion debate is: when is a baby a human being? Many ideas have been put forth. A baby is a human being at birth. A baby is a human being when you can detect a heart beat. Some even point to the idea of the “breath of life” in the Old Testament and maintain that a baby is a human being when the lungs are developed enough to have air in them.

 

I think, based on the idea of the image of God, that we’re asking the wrong question. The question we should ask is: When does a person take on the image of God? The answer is obvious…there is no time in which a person, once conceived, does not have the image of God. One scriptural indicator of this is the many times the Bible speaks of God treating the baby in the womb as a person.

 

15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, (Galatians 1:15)

 

15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. (Luke 1:15)

 

Unfortunately, we’ve now live in a culture where life is cheapened because, I believe, of the teaching of Evolution. Evolution teaches that humans are simply animals, distant cousins to our dog or cat. If we euthanize a sick dog, why not a sick human? If we are in emotional or physical pain, why not end it? Why would a woman who gets pregnant have to sacrifice anything for the life that is now inside her? Evolution is a doctrine that, because we are merely animals, causes us to give life-ending answers to all those questions. Evolution is a doctrine that teaches that the strong survive, so therefore, if you are weak (and in the way of the strong), you should die—whether you are an unborn baby, an old person in a nursing home, or a disabled person.

 

Christianity teaches that all human life is made in God’s image and therefore has great value. Another reason that we know that God values life is…

 

2) Because The Bible Recognizes The Unborn As Valuable

 

Here’s one text pointing to the value of unborn human life:

 

22 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. 23 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, 24 Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, (Exodus 21:22–24)

 

The word “mischief” here means “harm.” The main question you have to answer when interpreting this verse is to whom does mischief (harm) refer to? Is it talking about harm to the mother alone? Or is it talking about the baby (“her fruit”) and the mother together?

 

I understand that there are those that look at these verses as referring only to the mother. The baby’s value, if any, is purely subjective as the husband and judges determine. If the mother dies…then the death penalty is invoked because of the value of the woman, not the baby.

 

This view, of course, fits those who want to be pro-choice. They see the woman as more valuable than the baby. They also see that, if they choose, the baby can be valuable if they subjectively choose it to be to suit their purposes. 

 

That’s how we can have laws that give value to the unborn if something like this verse describes happens. For instance, in 2002, Laci Peterson, who was eight months pregnant, was murdered by her husband. Her husband, Scott Peterson was convicted on TWO counts of murder—not one. He is in San Quentin prison on Death Row. The death of Laci and her unborn son led to the United States Congress passing the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which is widely known as Laci and Conner’s Law.

 

But is it only the mother that this passage is talking about? Let’s look at the text again:

 

22 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. 23 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, 24 Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, (Exodus 21:22–24)

 

The Hebrew word for “mischief” (or harm) only appears five times in the Bible. Twice here and then three times in Genesis. In Genesis 42 and 44 it’s clearly used to refer to Jacob’s fear that fatal harm would come to his son Benjamin. Although Benjamin was a young man at the time, he was still Jacob’s child. It’s interesting to me that the word “mischief” is only used in the contexts of parent and child. That makes me think that “mischief” here in Exodus 21 is referring to harm to the baby.

 

The other reason that I think it’s talking about more than just the mother being hurt is the grammatical flow of the sentence: “…and hurt a woman with child, SO THAT her fruit depart from her…” The hurt to the woman is not the focus here, is it? It’s that she was struck in such a way that her child was either born prematurely (no mischief) or stillborn (mischief). Why else would the baby or the fact that the woman is with child even be mentioned if the only woman is the focus? Some have suggested that it is mentioned because the concern is about the woman’s childbearing ability being damaged…but that’s just a stretch to fit their own pro-choice value system.

 

What this is saying is that if a baby is born prematurely because of the woman being struck, there is to be a fine for the person who struck the woman. That in itself shows us the value God places on unborn and newborn life. But if there is harm to the baby, then there should be restitution up to and including, life for life.

 

But what about the death penalty? We find God commanding people to be put to death for certain things, like this situation here in Exodus 21. Doesn’t that show that God really doesn’t value life? Look at God’s institution of the death penalty after the Flood—

 

6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. (Genesis 9:6)

 

Why does God say that a murderer should be put to death? Is it to deter others from murder? No. It’s because that murderer devalued the life of a person who is made in the image of God. God says that devaluing human life is punishable by death. The death penalty proves God’s value on human life because murder destroys someone made in God’s personal image. Anything less would be saying that it’s no big deal to murder an image-bearer of God.

 

3) God Values Human Life Above All Else

 

Turn to Matthew, to see how Jesus values life. First, we see the value God places on human life above the rest of Creation—

 

26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? (Matthew 6:26)

 

Are we not “much better” than the birds of the air? Of course we are! Humans are the pinnacle of God’s creation (see Psalm 8) and therefore are highly valued.

 

But the greatest way that Jesus shows us that He and His Father values human life is that He came to die in our place.

 

8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

 

God values all human life and so should we.

 

AMY TRACY DISCOVERS THAT GOD VALUES ALL LIFE

 

Amy Tracy was an abortion-rights activist with the National Organization for Women in the 1980’s and 90’s. This is her story of how she came to see that God values all life—

 

…I believed that ignorance and hatred drove Christians to fight for the lives of the unborn—an issue that had the firepower to destroy women’s independence. I didn’t care how human a preterm baby appeared to be. No amount of science, reasoning, or pushy arguments from zealous pro-lifers ever made me think differently.

 

[But then]…I found myself inexplicably drawn to Jesus…Eventually, I surrendered to His pursuit, and my convictions began to change.

 

My strong pro-choice stance was one of the last to go. The first shift in my perspective followed a conversation with a new roommate shortly after my conversion…she mentioned that she grieved mysteriously one day a month. She suspected it was related to an abortion she’d had years ago…

 

I hurt for her in the months that followed. Like clockwork, she cloistered herself and mourned almost every month. That was when I began to believe Christians might be right about the consequences of abortion—something I’d never been able to see as a non-Christian.

 

Before I met Jesus, I would have scoffed if you’d told me that every human life had value because it was made in God’s image. Through the experience with my roommate and the clear teaching of Scripture, God opened my eyes to see that He valued life—every life.

 

Because God has fashioned people in His image, the way we see and treat the unborn—and those whose lives seem frail or too full of pain, such as the terminally ill—is of tremendous importance. Every person has value as an image bearer, and every person is someone Jesus paid the ultimate price to redeem. (Discipleship Journal, Issue 133 [January/February 2003])

 

CONCLUSION

 

A few years ago at a Pastor’s conference, I heard the story of a Christian girl who got pregnant. Her father was enraged when he found out and immediately took her to an abortion clinic where his grandchild’s life was quickly snuffed out before their church found out. He was the pastor. For the sake of his convenience (what would the congregation think) he chose to murder his grandchild!

 

How could a Christian pastor push his daughter to have an abortion? What’s the real problem here? When you lose your ability to tremble before the Lord, sin becomes commonplace in your life. It’s no big deal. Abortion, that’s my choice, the Lord hasn’t any say in it. That’s a broad path leading to destruction! Why do people take the broad path? Because it’s convenient.

 

Salvation begins with us trembling before the Lord, because the first step to being saved is recognizing that we are a sinner (Romans 3:23) and that our sin deserves the penalty of death (Romans 6:23). When we recognize that, without God’s help, we are bound for Hell, then we have taken the first step to salvation.

 

The help that God gives is a substitute. Yes, you deserve to die for your sin, but God sent Jesus Christ to die in your place. He rose again from the dead to prove that he had paid the penalty for the sins of those who would trust in Him.

 

When you trust in Jesus Christ, that also should cause you to tremble, like a person who is pushed out of the way of a speeding car and sits on the edge of the road trembling because of the close call. Do you realize how close you were to an eternity in Hell? 

 

Tremble, therefore, before the Lord. Value the things that He values—namely, all life made in His image!

 

Levi Durfey—LDM-Abortion-God Values Life, So Should We-20200119FBCAM-SERMON

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