For the week of October 20, 2012 / 4 Heshvan 5773
Torah: Bereshit / Genesis 6:9 - 11:32
Haftarah: Isaiah 54:1 - 55:5


Life Is Valuable

I will certainly demand an accounting for the blood of your lives: I will demand it from every animal and from every human being. I will demand from every human being an accounting for the life of his fellow human being. Whoever sheds human blood, by a human being will his own blood be shed; for God made human beings in his image. And you people, be fruitful, multiply, swarm on the earth and multiply on it. (Bereshit / Genesis 9:5-7; CJB)

Have you ever wondered why it is that many of the same people who are against abortion and euthanasia are for capital punishment? Prolifers are often characterized by others as meddlers with regard to a pregnant woman's choice to have or not have her baby and people suffering through horrific terminal illness, who simply want to die with dignity. But then some of these same prolifers believe that the most appropriate consequence for certain crimes is execution. Is this not hypocrisy of the worst kind?

Note that I am fully aware that not all prolifers believe in capital punishment and not all who believe in capital punishment are prolifers. I am simply dealing with the question of how someone can legitimately hold to both positions.

The logic of this has to do with a deep conviction that every single life is valuable. But how can a regard for life include regarding execution as an acceptable consequence for certain crimes?

In the passage I quoted, God declares to Noah and his descendants after the flood that he requires execution in the case of murder. The reason for this is that human beings are made in God's image. Opinion varies as to what constitutes the image of God, but whatever it is, it is an essential part of who we are as humans. Purposely terminating the life of another person is a personal affront against God himself. But if that is the case, how can execution be justified?

Allowing murderers to continue their own lives while their victims' lives were terminated at their hands, cheapens human life in the name of what some people think is mercy. This is why we shouldn't be surprised at the misguided logic of those who are happy with allowing murderers to live, but are perfectly fine with abortion and euthanasia. Again I know not every person who is against capital punishment is for abortion and euthanasia, but many are. The value placed on a woman's choice or a sick person's desire to die stems from this same lack of regard for human life. Letting murderers live, while killing the unborn and the infirm, denies our intrinsic value as human beings made in God's image.

Murderers give up their right to life, by taking life. We have no right to take the life of the living from conception to natural death. This is not to say that we should not have compassion for those with crisis pregnancies or for those in immense pain. We should do whatever we can to help these people, but taking the lives of image bearers helps no one.

A society that permits - or should I say encourages - the killing of unwanted children and the elderly, yet allows murderers to live, has lost touch with the value of their own lives. It won't be long before all sorts of people who need care for all sorts of reasons will be discarded and destroyed by what is becoming a more and more selfish culture.

Thankfully, God doesn't see life this way and neither should we. Whatever the general society might think, those who embrace biblical truth need to stand for the value of every human being. People are worth it!

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