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PRINCIPLE FIVE: THE SANCTITY OF HUMAN LIFE

Because of creation: The Bible teaches us that human beings are created by God, sustained by God and created for God [Genesis 1:26,27; Colossians 1:16,17; 1Corinthians 8:6; Romans 11:36; Hebrews 1:3]. This puts extreme value on the human. The other human being, our neighbour, was created, not for us to use and abuse according to our mood and our purposes, but for God and for his purpose. Every human being is God’s possession and God’s property by virtue of creation.

It could be argued here that it is not only humans, but all of God’s creation, which derives significance and value from creation by God. This leads us on to the second point: the unique dignity of the human.

Because of the image of God: When God created human beings he gave them a specific identity which distinguished them from everything else: God created humans 'in his image' [Genesis 1:26,27]. This gives to human beings a unique value and a unique responsibility. It gives to human beings a significance, a dignity and a role which nothing else can achieve or fulfil, and puts a heavy boundary around the way we view and treat one another.

Creation in the image of God, means that the human, distinct from all other creatures, was created with the capacity for godliness [= ‘God-like-ness’]. The human person, our neighbour, our marriage partner, our child, our enemy, was created with the ability, the role and the responsibility, not to be God, but to express the likeness, the reflection, the qualities, of the nature of God.  

This identity as God’s image-bearers gives an awesome dignity to the human being, and holds each one of us accountable to God for the way we treat our fellow human beings. He does not allow us to treat his image-bearers with contempt or disrespect [Genesis 9:6; Matthew 5:21,22].

Because of the redeeming love of God: From the saving actions of God in and through his Son, Jesus Christ, we learn of the immeasurable love that God has for human beings. God so loved … that he gave his only Son [John 3:16]; God has demonstrated his love for us, in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us [Romans 5:8]; God showed his love to us by sending his only Son into the world so that through him we can live [1John 4:9].

Human beings are the objects of God's love … a love that defies description and which is beyond measure [Ephesians 3:18,19].

The human beings with whom we relate are loved by the Almighty God. Immediately we understand this, it puts a boundary around our treatment of others.

From the redemption factor we also learn that the death of Jesus Christ, by which we are redeemed, regenerated and reconciled to God, endows the human person with enormous value or preciousness in the eyes of God, even if that person has not embraced this incredible gift. Because of this extreme measure taken by God to save human beings, we all do well to think hard and long about the significance and value this puts un human beings:  that my human neighbour is revealed as precious to God, not only by virtue of creation, and creation in the image of God, but also by virtue of the death of Christ, the cost of redemption.

How wrong it is to use, misuse or abuse a human being who is so exceedingly precious to God!

In addition to this immeasurable value bestowed by the death of Christ, this redemption factor also, by demonstrating foundational life principles of grace and forgiveness, establishes a well-defined boundary around our attitudes, speech and actions towards our neighbours. This costly cross, demonstrates how much God loves and values humans; this costly cross, by which we are saved, declares the sanctity of human life.

Before we despise people, before we hurt people, before we treat humans and human life with contempt, let us remember these three indicators of the sanctity, the sacredness, of human life: this human is special because of creation by God; this human is special because of creation in God's image; and this human is special because of the extreme measures God took to save this human from eternal condemnation.

This principle of the sanctity of human life means that we see every human being with a big sign on them saying 'Precious to God. Do not touch!' Do not harm their bodies with physical harshness. And do not harm their souls with verbal and emotional hardness.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2016