It is a statement that did not pertain to any other living being in the creation account. This declaration would separate man from beast, allowing dominion over the creation. However, with the establishment of authority, there would also be a responsibility to treat the creation as a gift from God, meant to display His glory. What was this declaration? “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness . . . “ (Gen 1:26)
In fashioning the man out of dirt and the woman from the flesh of man, humanity bore a distinct mark from the rest of creation. Christendom has stood fast on the truth that human life is valuable, because of its creator and its design. Life is meant to be esteemed and seen as the opportunity to glorify God because it is a gift that bears the image of the giver. If we adhere to this biblical truth, it must change the way we seek to uphold human life.
Sometimes an opportunity to stand for life comes in obvious situations. We mourn over the fact that abortion is the leading cause of death worldwide – innocent humans killed in the place where they should be safest. We fight against the aberrant practices of human trafficking where humans are treated as objects for sinful, personal satisfaction. These evils call us to action, and we rightly stand against those injustices based on a biblical view of the unique creation of humanity.
The image of God in humanity stirred the hearts of those that fought against racial injustices and the immoral and unethical view of racial superiority. Any attempt to lessen the value of human life, treating them as property or like livestock affronts the design and desire of God. These atrocities get our attention and call us to stand for life, and rightfully so. However, there is something else that calls us to degrade life, and sinisterly holds us as we justify its presence.
If we claim to uphold the sanctity of life because humans are created in the image of God, then it means all life should be treated with dignity – even those that oppose a biblical worldview. It does not take long to find in any form of social media, those that claim to hold a biblical stance on the value of life degrading a person created in the image of God. If the church is going to stand for life, we must stand in a way that holds all life as valuable.
In argumentation, this personal degradation is called an ad hominem attack. It happens when the opponent begins to attack the person instead of the idea. In this form of assault, mocking and juvenile retorts replace solid arguments and refutation of ideas. It is something that is common among the discussions of the world and sadly it has become like a cancer in the life of professing believers as they engage opposers.
It is subtle at first. It creeps into emotional topics that rightfully shake us to the core. We are so overwhelmed by the issue that we lose control of thoughts and composure. At that moment, the idea is no longer the topic we address – we attack the person.
This sinful action hides because the magnitude of other atrocities committed against human life act as a justifier. Jesus brought light to this reality in his teaching. Jesus was addressing the presence of anger in the heart of man (Matt 5:21-22). It was anger which he told them bore the same judgment as murder.
How many times in our discussions with the world do we resort to the ways of the world thinking we can convince the world of a godly manner of thinking. If we hold to the sanctity of life, we must not just uphold the value of life in the womb, but also the image of God in our opponents, no matter how marred that image is by sin.
Sometimes we get so focused on the fight; we forget there must be holiness and integrity in our methods. How do we keep ourselves in check when we engage in social media and conversations about emotionally charged issues?
- We keep the Gospel at the forefront. In our battle, we often forget that we are called to be ministers of reconciliation. We are called to bear the message of the Gospel to the darkest places on this planet, and those dark places are often in the minds of people who disagree with a biblical worldview. Yes, we engage in the issues, but the problems should never take the place of speaking the Gospel.
- We ground our conversation in Scripture. Our discussions should never be void of the truth of God. I am not telling you to quote Bible verses, but I am telling you there should be a Scriptural understanding of the position you hold. Why do you believe abortion is wrong? Why is human trafficking wrong? Every reason you give should be rooted in Scripture.
- Battle the issue, not the person. The way we treat our opponents is often a more significant argument for our position than the ideas we speak. There is no need for memes on how funny a person looks or to compare them to livestock. In everything we say, we uphold the image of God in all of humanity.
Yes, Jesus turned over tables and made a whip. Yes, he called his opponents out on the sin. However, Christ never denied the value of life. He never degraded the value of life in another person. He wept over Jerusalem and mourned over their lostness. We are called to be voices of truth, but we must do so in a way that holds to the sanctity of life. Let us speak God’s Word, trusting it not to return void (Isaiah 55:!1) and to be the sword needed to fight the good fight (Ephesians 6:!7).
One may say that Jesus called the Pharisees and Sadducees names (Matthew 12:24; 23:33). However, I would like to make two points of clarification. First, He was talking to a religious establishment that claimed to represent Yahweh, God the Father. They were claiming to hold to the teachings and practices of the Old Testament, but instead were transgressing its precepts. Second, Christ always exercised holy anger. The testimony of Scripture is that man's anger is, more often than not, sinful (James 2:20). This is why we are called to be quick to listen and slow to speak. In these statements by Christ, he never degraded the value of the life of the Pharisees and Sadduccees.