Tuesday, January 22, 2013

SANCTITY OF HUMAN LIFE

In a roundabout way, I will address four questions.
 
1. Does human life have unique value?

2. Why does human life have unique value?

3. Does it make any difference whether there is or isn’t a basis for such value?
 
The answer to such questions is largely ideological. I think it’s safe to say that most people, if they actually know what they believe, do not know why they believe what they believe. We are bombarded, more than ever, in our highly media active society, with fragments of thoughts associated with a much larger worldview. Darwinian (also secular and cosmic forms of humanism) thinking has risen tremendously in its subtle, if not overt, influence. Along with Marxist thinking, this ideology is blatantly “pushed” in many institutions of higher learning (if not lower learning). In its “trickledown effect,” it has saturated the minds of most people. I would suggest that such thinking lies behind the willingness of a society to embrace the legalized practice of abortion and grow to accept and defend it as reasonable behavior.
 
I want to show the logical connection between the presuppositions of a Darwinian ideology (more properly, pre-biological, macroevolution) and the presuppositions of a Biblical ideology. A system of thought is to be analyzed by the consistent adherence to its belief, not its inconsistent departures. Though consistency with one’s ideology is preferred, both ideologies can and will have people who offer inconsistent, illogical representations of their view and its application to practical life. This is true regarding the issue of the Sanctity of Human Life. In both views referred to above, inconsistency might exist at the level of the belief system itself or in the practical application of one’s stated position. In other words, you will have those who claim to be Christians who violate Biblical principle on the practical level and proponents of a Darwinian view who encourage a Biblical morality. Both are inconsistent.
 
The Biblical Worldview

The Biblical Worldview states that human beings have been created in the image of God (Ge.1:26-27). The threefold presupposition here is 1) there is an Intelligent, Personal, Creator, 2) man is created by the Intelligent, Personal Creator and 3) man is created in the image of the Intelligent, Personal Creator. This threefold presupposition lays the foundation for understanding the Sanctity of Human Life. Human beings and all the basic processes and elements of human existence are the product of thoughtful, purposeful creation. Someone created us for a reason.
 
Further, the God who created us has communicated valuable information about right and wrong, good and bad. Stated in the 10 Commandments is, “You shall not murder” (Ex.20:13 and Dt.5:17). As with any large, complex document, quoting one verse or sentence cannot provide all the insight needed to form a well-rounded view. Consequently, when we read, “Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man” from Gen 9:6, two more important ideas surface. To say the least, this 1) distinguishes “murder” from other possible forms of killing[1] and 2) clarifies the reason murder is wrong and why we should respect human life; namely, man is created in the image of God. This further verifies that the Sanctity of Human Life is founded in the fact that God created us and He created us in His image. This then becomes the basis to revere, honor and respect all human life. One who professes to be a Biblically based Christian will seek to make consistent application of these basic Biblical presuppositions.
 
What happens, when we ignore or reject these presuppositions and / or eliminate God from the equation, altogether?
 
Darwinian Worldview

According to any view that deals with the origin of man as a random, chance happening (such a Darwinism and pre-biological, macroevolution) there is no foundation for the Sanctity of Human Life. Without God creating man in His image, man is the product of the same impersonal, meaningless, random, chance processes that produced everything else that exists. This being the case, the only thing that gives man any more value than anything else in existence is a purely arbitrary assignment of value with no intrinsic basis. If such value is arbitrary, the removal of such value is, as well, arbitrary. One holding to such a view might say they believe in the Sanctity of Human Life, but it’s not because of or consistent with this view – it is contrary to and inconsistent with this view.
 
Our Society

Instead of being a nation guided by principle (of any sort), we have established pragmatism and utilitarianism as our foundational philosophy. According to pragmatism and utilitarianism, if it works or serves a purpose, it’s “good” or “right.” Moral principle has been abandoned, ignored or, at best, relegated to a subordinate role in guiding one’s decisions. If you look closely (and you don’t really have to look too closely if you’re even partially awake) you will see the effects of this on all levels of life. In this approach, whatever serves my purposes or gets me what I want is “good.” If truth works, fine – but if lying works, that’s fine too. It is upon this philosophy we justify the legalization of such brutal and inhuman practices as abortion. Situational ethics (relativism) dominate absolute truth and the downward spiral begins. The end justifies the means.
 
“It is not that these two world views (Biblical Theism and humanism) are different only in how they understand the nature of reality and existence. They also inevitably produce totally different results. The operative word here is inevitably. It is not just that they happen to bring forth different results, but it is absolutely inevitable that they will bring forth different results.”
 
“The basic problem of the Christians in this country in the last eighty years or so, in regard to society and in regard to government, is that they have seen things in bits and pieces instead of totals. (Christians have very gradually) become concerned over permissiveness, pornography, the public schools, the breakdown of the family and finally abortion.”
 
“But they have not seen this as a totality – each thing being a part, a symptom of a much larger problem. They have failed to see that all of this has come about due to a shift in worldview – that is, through a fundamental change in the overall way people think and view the world and life as a whole.” – Francis Schaeffer
 
So, what is the worldview of our culture? What ideology are we building upon? What are the actual presuppositions we embrace as a nation?
 
There’s work to be done and a significant portion of it is representing Biblical Christianity correctly so we understand the presuppositions and work them into our lives and the fabric of our culture and our nation. It is absolutely inevitable that one’s worldview, when consistently adhered to, will produce corresponding results.

[1] Social justice is the context in which we must deal with the complex challenge associated with taking human life.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

A PROPER SOCIETY

God has revealed His design for three primary social institutions within His creation.  God ordained social institutions to teach love, respect, discipline, work, and community.  Family, church, and state are the three most important of these.  Christians value the worth of each individual that comprises society over the social order; however, society plays a key role in history and in the individual’s relationship with God.  We recognize that man was created in the image of God, as a social and relational being (Genesis 2:20).  Dietrich Bonhoeffer stated “It is God’s will that there shall be labour, marriage, government, and church in the world; and it is His will that all these, each in its own way, shall be through Christ, directed toward Christ, and in Christ….This means that there can be no retreating from a ‘secular’ into a ‘spiritual’ sphere.”  All of society and all of life is inextricably bound with God and His plan for mankind, a plan with which we either cooperate or resist and oppose…and for which the consequences are enormous.
In Genesis 2:23-25, we see that God ordained marriage (one man to one woman) and family, which together are the foundation of society.  God intended for the family to nurture each individual and to provide an environment for mental and spiritual growth.  To a large extent, society is influenced by the condition of marriage and family within that society.  If the family is in despair, so is society.  Unfortunately, in our society, we see the tearing down of marriage and families…with divorce rates at 50% or greater, homosexual relations, unwanted children, abortion, and constant attacks in the media on Christian family principles.  Our society has been influenced by the Secular Humanist perspective of relativism, materialism, immorality, and anti-Christian philosophy.  This is in utter opposition to God’s design for the family as the fundamental social institution that promotes the advancement of His Kingdom.
God ordained the Church to serve specific functions.  The mission of the Church is to promote the Kingdom of God both locally and globally by leading people to repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and teaching them to live according to the principles of his Kingdom in every area of individual and social life.  By making society aware of God’s character and our sin and rebellion, the Church can effect great positive changes within society.  God will judge individuals and nations, but the Church can fulfill its role by turning a society toward God by calling sinners to repentance and teaching moral responsibility before a holy and righteous God.
Christians also recognize the state (civil government) as a God-ordained institution within society (Romans 13:1-7).  It’s important to note that God ordained the institution of the state, not necessarily the persons in positions of authority.  Government has God-ordained limits, not totalitarian powers.  The Bible calls for limited government, in order to uphold justice and the God-given unalienable rights of mankind.  Our founding fathers understood this with great wisdom, and implemented a sound system of government with three branches (legislative, executive, judicial) that provide checks and balances in order to avoid totalitarian power.  Jesus told us that we are to render to the state, what belongs to the state…and to God, what belongs to God.  Therefore, when any law of a government opposes the laws of God, we are obligated to God’s laws rather than man’s (Acts 4:19).
Each of these three social institutions has its role within society, as designed by God.  If each fulfills this role, without overstepping its God-given boundaries as revealed to us in the Bible…we would experience a proper society, free from corruption and despair.  Written by Keith A. Dunlap