“The Image of God”
(Why All Life Matters!)
The Rev. Louis B. Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford
Presbyterian Church (PCA)
The world tells us that our value and dignity are based upon our current or potential contributions to society. There are ethicists who teach that human life has no more intrinsic value than plants and animals! I hope that this shocks you. It should! Human life has been given a unique value by the Creator. In God’s eyes all life matters. Genesis 1:26a, “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…”
At this point, I think that I’ve probably lost the atheists or those who think that they are. Perhaps, even those who have embraced the evolutionary perspective that mankind is divided into categories of race have stopped reading here. But, here’s a news bulletin from the Bible. There is only one race, the human race. Human life is sacred because God declared it so. Human life is sacred from the womb to the tomb.
Even though this article is not about the existence of God, yet, His existence is the basis for the sanctity of human life. All men and women bear the image of God. No other creature has been given such a distinction. Man is accountable to God. We have been set apart by God. We are made to bear God’s image. One of my favorite Psalms declares, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” Psalm 8:3-4
The sense of the words of Scripture, Gen. 1:26, that declare men and women are made in God’s image are likened to objects viewed in a mirror. We are a reflection of God. Distortions of this idea have been offered over the years. Joseph Smith wrote that “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man…” Another famous or infamous personality teaches that God is actually a man who is six feet, two inches tall. He even goes on to describe God’s arm length.
Being grounded in the truth is the best defense against such false teaching. In other words, know the truth in order to recognize error. So then, what is the truth of being made in God’s image? It cannot mean that mankind looks like God in a physical sense, as those referenced above teach. God made us male and female! Both men and women bear God’s image. All reasonable people admit that men and women are not the same, nor do we all look the same.
Bearing God’s image means to have some of His attributes. Attributes are simply characteristics that define a being. Now I used the word “some” to qualify the attributes of God that we bear. We are not God! No man is immortal. No man is self-existent. No man can make the claim that he had no beginning. Yet, all men are able to: reason, think, and have limited knowledge. All men have a sense of right and wrong.
In bearing these characteristics, we are faced with our limitations. For example, we are able to think and reason. But, our knowledge is limited. We don’t always do what is right in spite of having the moral law written on our hearts. The Bible says that every intention of the thoughts of men’s hearts are only evil continually, Genesis 6:5.
Yet man’s sinfulness does not eliminate his dignity. God made man in His image, male and female He made them as recorded in Genesis Chapter One. Two Chapters later, the Bible records the Fall of Adam and the Woman. As a result, our God given attributes were marred by the Fall. We still have them. But we also have an inherited sin nature. Adam is referred to as the head of the Human Race, Romans 5:12ff. Along with the dignity of being human comes the responsibility for our actions before God.
Having said all this, the fact that we are sinners does not remove the dignity which God conveyed by making Man in His image. It also does not reduce our responsibility to exercise good management of His Creation.
Human Life is sacred because God made it so. Remember no man can change what God ordained. You have dignity and value because the sovereign God made you in His image!