A friend who once ministered in a country with teeming populations and full orphanages saw scores of children die daily from hunger, neglect and abuse. In a setting in which life seemed cheap, he had a practice that would reinforce for himself the truth of humans’ infinite worth. He would stop at the bed of each infant he passed to look at his or her face, one by one, and whisper, “You are precious to God.”
The truth that every human life is of inestimable worth is as old as the beginning of our race, grounded in Genesis 1. There we read that God said He would make humanity in His own image—male and female (Genesis 1:26). The death of Christ for the whole world (John 3:16) further demonstrates the heavenly Father’s view of mortals’ worth: humans are as valuable as the shed blood of His only Son.
This truth about our worth has bearing on the entire lifespan:
- Beginning of life: The moment the DNA of sperm and egg align, a unique human is formed. This has ramifications for our ethics of contraception, embryonic stem cell research, abortion, prenatal testing, eugenics, selective reduction, multifetal pregnancy reduction and humans with genetic anomalies.
- Birth through adulthood: In some countries, girls are considered disposable. Such an idea is inconsistent with God’s view of humans. So is bullying. And murder. And cursing people made in God’s image. Our view of human dignity should affect how we treat those with disabilities. How people treat police officers. How police officers treat people. How we treat the homeless. The poor. The hungry. Immigrants. Those who differ from us racially. Trafficked humans and slaves of all kinds. And the list goes on.
- End of life: Humans’ inherent dignity has bearing on how we honor the elderly, how we approach passive vs. active euthanasia, and so much more.
Humans are not just blobs of genetic material; we are glorious creations of God. How we treat each other from beginning to end demonstrates how much we align with God’s view of His image-bearers—how much we love our neighbors as ourselves.