Why do most people find it moral/ethical to kill a steer and immoral/unethical to kill an innocent human being? We rejoice if a steer is slaughtered because it means there’s steak for supper. We groan when we hear of the slaughtering of mankind. What makes one acceptable and the other not? Why do we emotionally respond differently to the same action? The answer is simple. Mankind possesses a distinct and greater quality of life than does the animal kingdom. From a biblical viewpoint, man was created in the image of God, the rest of creation was not.

For thousands of years of history this distinction has guided the actions of mankind. Unfortunately, in the last 75 years many human beings have justified acting inhumanely to certain other humans. Their justification rests in the belief that certain beings are not human beings. The belief is founded upon a definition of humanity as being capable of accomplishing various physical activities. For example, a popular statement is that embryos can be frozen and survive while babies can’t because embryos are not human. But is that a valid conclusion or even the only conclusion that explains the difference in activity?

In my younger days I participated in a couple of 10K and 5-mile races. While I was never the winner in any of them, I could accomplish running the entire distance in a respectable time without any significant wear and tear on my body. Having had two open-heart surgeries and having aged a couple of decades, the same would not be true today. I suppose (I am not willing to investigate) that if I tried to do the same as I did before, I would literally die. Using the rationale concerning embryos and babies above, I must not have been a human being in my younger days. Or maybe I was a human being then and somewhere along the line I ceased to be one.

In the course of living, the abilities of humans change, sometimes for good, and sometimes to our detriment. For example, in the first few years of my life, I was dependent upon my mother to prepare my food to nourish my body. In fact, from birth for a while, I was also dependent upon her actually getting the food into my mouth. In the course of time, I learned to feed myself and then even to prepare my own nourishment. Now, as I’m entering the final third of my life expectancy, my physical abilities are beginning to wane. It may be that at sometime in the future I will once again be dependent upon others to feed me. But despite all the changes in my abilities, both good and bad, my humanity has not changed.

Moreland and Rae write these appropriate words concerning Psalm 139:13-18. “The psalmist [David] reflects on the way in which God has intricately created him. He describes the process with vivid figures of speech such as being knit or woven together in the womb. He marvels at the skill of God in fashioning the details of his being in the secret place of the womb. The psalmist describes himself as an ‘unformed substance’ (v. 16 NRSV), translated by the primary lexicon for the Old Testament as ‘embryo.’ David sees the person who gives thanks and praise to God (vv. 13-16) as the same person who was skillfully woven together in the womb (v. 13) as the same person who is known by God inside and out (vv. 1-6). In other words, there is a continuity of personal identity from the earliest point of development to a mature adult.”*

Two important conclusions must be made concerning humanity. First, becoming a human being is not dependent upon being capable of certain physical abilities. I will contend that genuine humanity begins with the possession of an immaterial human soul, which is generated at conception (Lord willing, my next THURSDAY’S THOUGHT). Second, it is incumbent for human beings to act humanely to all human beings, both in and out of the womb.

* Moreland & Rae, Body & Soul, Human Nature & the Crisis in Ethics, p. 232-233. The lexicon referenced is Brown, Driver & Briggs, Hebrew & English Lexicon of the Old Testament, 5th ed.

Who We Are:

The Salina Bible Church is an independent, Bible-teaching church, located approximately 6 miles south of Apollo, PA at the intersection of routes 819 and 981.

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4132 Route 819
Avonmore, PA 15618

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