Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Image of God

Scripture says all human beings are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26,27; 9:6; James 3:9,10). There are various implications to this. It would indicate that a human being is a human being, and it is wrong to kill them, even the unborn (Psalms 139:13-16; 51:5; Jeremiah 1:5). But it goes deeper than that; even verbally assaulting another is wrong because of this. It also means it is wrong to look down on people of other races and ethnic groups (Colossians 3:11; Acts 17:26-28; 8:25-40). Also, it requires we treat all people with equity, including the poor and downtrodden (James 2:1-9; Exodus 23:6; Proverbs 14:31). The image of God is the only solid basis for unity without requiring uniformity. One of the immediate impressions of people is that they are all different. But the image of God indicates there is an underlying basis for this kind of equality. Other approaches often cannot find a basis for equality without exaggerating the degree of uniformity between people.

But the problem is that a large part of our society does not hold to this position. They hold that human beings are just some accident the universe produced by chance. And under this definition, it is dubious that they have any value at all. Certainly there is no value in simply being a human being; we are just another animal. Therefore, we are seen as having value for being an "individual." There does not seem to be a clear, objective definition of what this is. It is highly subjective. Is a fetus an individual? A two-year old? Someone born with a physical or mental handicap? An old person with Alzheimer's? And who gets to determine this?  Society? But society is merely an artificial construct, and if there is nothing higher than society to inform it, what basis does it have to judge who has value? Further, if value is something I acquire, then it becomes something I earn. And this puts me in the position of having to pull myself up by my bootstraps. If I become an individual based on what I do, how can I ever do enough? Where the Christian says, God made me in His image and loved me enough to die for me, not because I deserved it but because He had made me.

But this is a difficult issue, and complicated to discuss. And  we are not going to win people over by sloganeering and soundbites. We need to wrestle with the tough issues and encourage others to do so. This may involve challenging our culture's current secular tendencies. Asking how we can claim all men are created equal if there is no Creator. But I am convinced that this is the only way to uphold genuine equality. However, this involves persuading people of the principles involved, not just passing a few laws. 

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