How sacred is human life?

We will need to take a fresh look at our abortion guidelines in the light of these principles.

J. David Newman is the editor of Ministry.

In the fourth meeting of the Christian View of Human Life Committee we have just done what we should have done at our first meeting—we have developed a set of biblical principles on which to base a Christian view of human life.

Concern about abortion provided the catalyst for the creation of this commit tee. Two and a half years ago, after vigorous debate in the officer group, it was decided to recommend that the General Conference Committee appoint a standing committee to make recommendations concerning this and other life-related issues (see Ministry, November 1988).

It was only natural, then, that abortion head the list of agenda items. But after grappling with this subject for three sessions and after making an attempt at a consensus statement (see Ministry, July 1990), some felt that we had neglected to provide a biblical foundation for that statement. In addition, the vast majority of the many letters that we received dis agreed with the consensus statement.

So in our most recent session (October 1990) we spent most of our time developing 12 principles that express the biblical view of the meaning of life. We present these to you (below) as a preliminary statement and ask for your comment.

We will need to take a fresh look at our abortion guidelines in the light of these principles and see how the guide lines measure up. This church must be guided first by what the Scriptures say and only secondarily by human ethical theories. —J. David Newman.

Principles for a Christian view of human life

Introduction

"Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent" (John 17:3, NIV). In Christ is the promise of eternal life; but since human life is mortal, humans are confronted with difficult issues regarding life and death. The following principles refer to the whole person (body, soul, and spirit), an indivisible whole (Gen. 2:7; 1 Thess. 5:23).

Life: Our valuable gift from God

1. God is the source, giver, and sustainer of all life (Gen. 1:30; Job 33:4; Ps. 36:9; John 1:3, 4; Acts 17:25, 28).

2. Human life has unique value be cause human beings, though fallen, are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27; John 1:29; Rom. 3:23; 1 Peter 1:18, 19; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 3:2).

3. God values human life not on the basis of human accomplishments or contributions but because we are God's creation and the objects of His redeeming love (Matt. 5:43-48; John 1:3; 10:10; Rom. 5:6, 8; Eph. 2:2-9; 1 Tim. 1:15; Titus 3:4, 5).

Life: Our response to God's gift

4. Valuable as it is, human life is not the only' or ultimate concern. Self-sacrifice in devotion to God and His principles may take precedence over life itself (1 Cor. 13; Rev. 12:11).

5. God calls for the protection of human life and holds those who destroy it accountable (Gen. 9:5, 6; Ex. 20:13; 23:7; Deut. 24:16; Prov. 6:16, 17; Jer. 7:3-34; Micah 6:7; Rev. 21:8).

6. God is especially concerned for the protection of the weak, the defense less, and the oppressed (Ps. 82:3, 4; Prov. 24:11, 12; Micah 6:8; Luke 1:52-54; Acts 20:35; James 1:27).

7. Christian love (agape) is the costly dedication of our lives to enhancing the lives of others. Love also respects personal dignity and does not condone the oppression of one person to support the abusive behavior of an other (Matt. 16:21; 22:39; John 13:34; 18:22, 23; Phil. 2:1-11; 1 John 3:16; 4:8-11).

8. The believing community is called to demonstrate Christian love in tangible, practical, and substantive ways. God calls us to restore gently the broken (Isa. 61:1-4; Matt. 1:23; 7:1, 2; John 8:2-11; Rom. 8:1, 14; 12:20; Gal. 6:1, 2; Phil. 2:1-11; 1 John 3:17, 18).

Life: Our right and responsibility to decide

9. God gives humanity the freedom of choice—even if it leads to abuse and tragic consequences. His unwillingness to coerce human obedience necessitated the sacrifice of His Son. He requires us to use His gifts in accordance with His will and ultimately will judge their misuse (Gen. 3; Deut. 30:19, 20; Rom. 3:5, 6; 6:1, 2; Gal. 5:13; 1 Peter 2:24).

10. God calls each of us individually to moral decision making and to search the Scriptures for the biblical principles underlying such choices (Acts 17:11; Rom. 7:13-25;! Peter 2:9).

11. Decisions about human life—from its beginning to its end—are best made within the context of healthy family relationships and the support of the faith community (Ex. 20:12; Eph. 5, 6).

12. Human decisions should always be centered in seeking the will of God (Luke 22:42; Rom. 12:2; Eph. 6:6).

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J. David Newman is the editor of Ministry.

February 1991

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