The Sanctity of Human Life and the Limits of Human Compassion

In addition to the many other things in the headlines this year, pro-life/pro-abortion issues have been at the forefront of the news with several events spurring that on. A seemingly pro-life leaning Supreme Court has many on the left feeling quite nervous about the possibility of the Roe vs. Wade decision being challenged or overturned. This last week, this led a Democrat-controlled House to pass legislation that, if it were adopted, would lead the United States to become just the third country worldwide to allow abortion without a gestational limit. They would join China and N. Korea as the only countries in the world to allow the termination of the infant up to the moment of birth.

For China and N. Korea, this is sad, but not surprising. The governments of those countries have consistently demonstrated how little they value individual human rights, but if this were to happen, it would be a shock to see the United States join them in this limited club. Even though some countries in Europe have often led the way in various streams of progressivism, in some ways the US is beginning to surpass them in areas like abortion and the pervasiveness and export of identity politics. For some in the US, they may see this as a triumph of the modern age, but many American Christians find themselves wondering how we arrived at this destination and confused by how to navigate the many human rights issues that are thrown at us on a daily basis, often with a very carefully sculpted political slant.

In this short article, I hope to examine a Christian view of the sanctity of human life and compassion as well as review some of the specific areas that human compassion is often limited by ideology. If you are a non-Christian reading this, I welcome your interest, but given the lack of a common moral/ideological foundation, I don’t expect your agreement. Human life is valued quite differently by different tribes and nations of humans, which is why we find vastly different laws related to the treatment of the unborn, women, special needs children, the old and infirm and minorities of all sorts. By contrast, human life is defined by the Bible in very specific ways that should unify all those who hold to the Truth of God’s Word.

Biblical Definition of Life

  • Mankind was created in the image of God — Genesis 1:26 — All life has value, but human life has been ascribed greater value than animal or plant life because of this fact and murder was considered a particular horrific crime, as an attack on life and the image of God.

God’s Compassion and Christian Compassion

  • In addition to looking at a viewpoint of life, I believe it is important to look at the compassion of God and the compassion that we are called to as His followers.

God values human life. Every human life is precious. He looks upon human suffering with compassion. God acted in the greatest way possible to meet our most pressing need by providing salvation when we could do nothing to earn it. As followers of Jesus, we are to be people of compassion as we interact with this world, but when we look around the world and deal with human issues, we often are shown different values. Let’s look at these principles applied to different issues in the news today.

Abortion

God’s viewpoint: All human life is precious and created in the image of God and every individual life involved in the situation is worthy of compassion.

Man’s ideas which may limit compassion:

  1. The most obvious limit is that the unborn child is not worthy of life or compassion. This is a clear violation of the created order and violates God’s commandments. The unborn child is only shown compassion if they are wanted, otherwise they are discarded.

Christian response: Since all human life is of equal value, regardless of the race, sex, economic status or health of those involved, followers of Jesus act to preserve life and support life. They invest heavily in ministering to whoever is in their community. They support and encourage all babies to be born and loved and all mother’s to find grace and mercy in the Church. They love those who have had abortions and lead the way in providing support and counseling. The Church acknowledges that we are all sinners and that the only hope for any of us is salvation through Jesus Christ.

Victims of violence — In recent years, some crimes have been highlighted because of the circumstances surrounding them, including the race of the participants, who committed the crime and whether or not the crime fit a narrative that serves a political/societal agenda.

God’s viewpoint: All human life is precious and created in the image of God and every individual life involved in the situation is worthy of compassion. It is just to punish those who act in violence to take another human life, regardless of their station. The government has been appointed to serve in that role as the administrator of that justice. No human life is worth more than any other.

Man’s ideas, which may limit compassion:

  1. Because of injustice, some deaths are more noteworthy than others, and it is felt that it is important to highlight those deaths and leverage them to initiate social change. This is complicated by the fact that some of these victims may in fact be criminals themselves and highlighting them often shows a lack of compassion on their own victims. It also minimizes other deaths, in which lives are lost which do not serve the cause of special interests. Example: minority deaths originating from street/gang/criminal violence are often minimized and ignored, despite the devastating impact on their communities. See this thread of children killed in street violence this year.

Christian response: Since all life is valuable, regardless of who is involved, Christians should stand for justice where all loss of life is found. When there are victims in our neighborhoods, churches should be the first ones to reach out in compassion to help those victims or their families. Churches should be active in working in their communities to prevent violence, initiating and participating in programs and leading the way of pointing others towards peace. Christians should be staunch defenders of justice and advocate for the government to fulfill their role as the arbitrators of God’s justice for victims and the innocent. This justice should be applied fairly to each person regardless of standing or station in the community. Christians should recognize that those without Christ will often act in selfish, evil ways and realize that the greatest need of all involved is salvation through Jesus Christ.

The Refugee Crisis — refugee immigration has been around as long as I can remember. Christian friends of mine were helping refugees resettle in DFW when I lived there from 1993–96, but in recent years it has become increasingly politicized.

God’s viewpoint: All human life is precious and created in the image of God and every individual life involved in the situation is worthy of compassion. God’s love for the orphan, the widow, the needy and the foreigner is documented throughout scripture. God has appointed for nations to have responsibility for their affairs, including their borders and the management of their borders. In Scripture, the community of faith is primarily responsible for caring for the needs of others, not the government.

Man’s ideas, which may limit compassion:

  1. Acting to end injustice as a government by military action may often create more long term suffering if the impact of those actions is not taken into account. Most refugees are refugees due to the actions of governments, both their own and others.

Christian response: Since all lives are valuable, regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, economic level or country of origin, Christians must act with compassion to be on the frontlines to help wherever there is suffering. Christians should be the first ones in their communities to welcome refugees and should be leading and cooperating with others to both meet the many physical needs of those refugees upon arrival and to show them the love of Christ through word and deed as long as they are in our communities. Christians should recognize that the Great Commission may be fulfilled in their generation by God bringing immigrants and refugees into their communities from the least reached corners of the world. Christians should advocate for compassion and justice for refugees from others, including the government, but should not abdicate their Christian responsibility to others to help those the Lord brings into their areas.

In all of these areas and more, Christians lead the way to be defenders of the sanctity of human life and bringing compassion to bear wherever possible. For many of us, the best thing we can do is set aside our right and desire to argue about these things on the internet and instead start asking, “where can I help?” with those who are suffering in our town. We are “salt and light” and that doesn’t happen with our votes or with our likes, it happens with our hands, our feet and our voices.

Originally published at http://seeinggodclearly.wordpress.com on September 27, 2021.

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Chad Hensley

Chad Hensley grew up in the great state of Oklahoma and attended the University of Oklahoma where he received a BA in English Literature in 1993.