RE:QUESTA space for resources to help RE teachers and their students explore the Christian faith
Lat Blaylock, Editor, RE Today
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The Sanctity of Life
Why is the sanctity of life so important to Christians?
The term 'sanctity' means 'the quality of being sacred or holy.'
Christians often talk of human life as being sacred. In other words, they believe there is something special or holy about human life. They believe that life is valuable, with every person seen as special to God. The following explains why...
1. God Created Life
Christians believe that life is a gift from God. The Creation Story in Genesis teaches that God created life, therefore it belongs to him, so to take it away is a sin.
'Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.' Genesis 2:7
2. Made in the Image of God
In Genesis 1:' 27 God is described as creating the first humans. The Bible says, 'So God created people in his own image; God patterned them after himself; male and female he created them.'
Humans are the only part of God's creation described as being made in the image of God. Christians don't believe we look like God. They believe ‘being in the image of God’ means that we are somehow special: we have something of God's nature in us, and the capacity to show God's nature. This shows how sacred life is, and that it is to be cherished, not destroyed.’
3. Every life has a God-given purpose.
God meant for each of us to be born, and we all have a purpose. Psalm 139:13-16 says:
‘For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
This passage makes it clear that all life is created by God, has a purpose set out by him, and therefore is sacred.
4. Our Bodies Are the Temple of the Holy Spirit
In 1 Corinthians 6:19, we read a verse that states. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?
This verse shows Christians their body is to be treated with respect. The reference to 'temple' is deliberate. A temple is a holy and sacred place. So for Christians, their body is literally holy and sacred, therefore they should honour and respect it by not seeking to destroy it.
5. The Ten Commandments
The Bible makes it clear that the deliberate act of ending a life is a sin. The most famous verse in the Bible on this topic is to be found within the Ten Commandments, Exodus 20:13: 'You shall not commit murder.'
Why is the sanctity of life teaching so important to Christians?
The belief in the sanctity of life makes it hard for some Christians to agree that we should control the beginning or end of life. Depending on their denomination or personal interpretation of the Bible, Christian views can differ dramatically, which affects the moral choices that they make regarding issues such as abortion, euthanasia, and fertility treatments.
Many feel it is God’s responsibility to end life, not ours. They take the Bible literally and have fundamental, unwavering acceptance of its teaching. For example, the Roman Catholic Church does not accept abortion or euthanasia.
However, other Christians disagree and believe that we can intervene under certain circumstances, ending life if it is the kindest thing to do. These Christians might refer to Situation Ethics, believing that modern-day situations can be complicated and decisions should be based on kindness and love, not a set of rigid rules.
“You [God] are the one who put me together inside my mother’s body, and I praise you because of the wonderful way you created me.’ (Psalm 139:13-14)Do you believe human life is special? Why? How would belief in the sanctity of life influence a Christian’s ideas about abortion, euthanasia or the creation of embryos for research or fertility treatment? Are there any Christian arguments that might lead Christians to see these issues differently?