One doesn’t have to search far to find examples of human life being devalued. The periodic acts of violence in our nation’s schools and streets are regular reminders. So too are the statistics of abuse—physical and chemical—whether self-inflicted or by others. Statistics tell a similar tale in the running record of suicides, assisted suicides, abortions, and what borders on euthanasia.
These sad and sobering realities cut a wide swath with many and varied contributing factors, but they can all be traced back to a fundamental devaluing of life.
Our society—which wrings its hands at the plague of school violence and at the same time champions a woman’s right to kill her unborn child—can’t understand its own contradictory message. It can’t see the common thread between these events, nor can it understand that its actions and messages contribute to the very behaviors it is trying to stop. Blinded by sinful human logic, the world misses the light of God’s Word, and for that reason it cannot understand how life devaluation is the foundation of every one of these events.
Life devaluation begins when the Creator is denied.
Just think about the difference in how we value earthly possessions depending on their origin. A machine-made blanket purchased at a discount store will keep me warm. A blanket carefully hand-crafted by my grandmother and given to me will keep me warm but will also remind me of my grandmother’s skill and love.
When a person is led to believe that his existence is due to random chance, and that the complexities of his body and mind have come about undirected—in other words, that he is little more than a superior animal—then there will be no more value or interest in that life than whatever selfish pursuits might acquire.
On the other hand, when one is led to know that the origin of one’s existence is from the creative power of the one and only almighty God who skillfully designed and created all things, who created mankind unique from the animals (in His image, Genesis 1:26), there will be value and interest in that life as a gift from God.
Knowing and believing the truth that God has “…made me and fashioned me, an intricate unity” (Job 10:8) gives the proper understanding: God is the giver of life and He gives it for His purpose. Rather than being seen as a disposable item in a throw-away society, life will be seen as a gift from God with a purpose—a gift to treasure, to use, to preserve.
The psalmist understood the correlation between being a creature of the almighty God and ordering one’s life according to His will. “Your hands have made me and fashioned me; give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments” (Psalm 119:73).
Knowing that we are the creative work of God informs us that our almighty and holy Creator has an interest in what we do and has provided His will for us. On the other hand, if human life is devalued to an animal-status which exists by evolutionary chance, there will be no responsibility seen to a creator and no real value in following that creator’s “code of conduct.”
Knowing our Creator reveals and teaches the value of life, but even that is not the greatest source of value. As great and amazing as our creation is, our greatest value is in our redemption.
When life becomes difficult as we face the effects of sin, to our troubled, sinful hearts God declares our value: “The blood of Jesus Christ, [God’s] Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). “…You were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold…but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:17ff).
God’s gracious work of redemption gives us a value that exceeds silver, gold, and any earthly thing; it was worth the blood of His only begotten Son. Simply amazing!
The value of human life is declared by God’s creation and then heightened by His redemption of us sinners. This value belongs to every unborn soul growing in a womb, every distressed teenager, every unemployed worker, every cancer sufferer in pain, every elder who is virtually unable to care for self, and everyone in-between—yes, all of us.
“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15)—a gift which gives genuine and lasting value to life. Let us pray that many in the world around us will come to understand this value of life and act accordingly. May we be emboldened to be the lights that bear this truth and proclaim the value of life—a value first given by the Creator God and further shown when He redeemed us through His only-begotten Son, Christ Jesus.