- Explore the Bible lesson for Jan. 20 focuses on Genesis 1:27, 9:1-7 and Matthew 5:21-22.
A Nov. 29, 2018, Baptist Standard article reported on 100 Christians who gathered in Matamoros, Mexico, to discuss ministry along the Texas/Mexico border. Speakers at the Border Summit said the “influx of immigrants” presented opportunities for Christians to serve in obedience to Christ’s Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20).
“God is in the middle of this disruption. He is sovereign and omniscient,” said Josue Valerio, director of Texas Baptists’ Missions Team. “God wants us to identify ourselves with him.”
Mario Alberto Gonzales, Texas Baptists’ director of multi-housing congregations, reminded summit participants that Christians have a responsibility to meet needs of people made in God’s image. “The role of pastoral ministry is to provide, guide, care, feed and develop those entrusted to their care,” he said. Clearly, believers should value human life and treat all humans with integrity and dignity.
In His Image (Gen. 1:27)
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). While the first chapter and first verse laid the foundation for the rest of the Bible, the story in Genesis revealed God’s magnificent work and preparation of man’s domain (Genesis 1:1-25). Unlike the creation of animals, humans share a special place in the heart and mind of God. “Let us make man in our own image”(Genesis 1:26).
God formed Adam from the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). Man is different from all the animals, in physical appearance as well as in spiritual makeup. Adam and Eve formed a relationship with God, talked with God, walked with God, and were given authority in the earth to rule and procreate (Genesis 1:27-2:25).
Genesis reveals the worth of human beings because we are God’s creation. If God deems us worthy, then people ought to deem each other worthy, regardless of ethnic group or social class. Although God’s image of man was marred by Adam’s fall into sin, God rescued man through the redemptive work of his Son, Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:45-47).
To Be Protected (Gen. 9:1-7)
The disobedience of Adam set in motion a series of sinful events beginning with Cain’s murder of his brother Abel. Therefore, law and order ceased to exist resulting in extreme crime and a decline in morality. God was grieved that he made man and decided to wipe man and all animals off the face of the earth (Genesis 6:1-8).
However, one man, Noah, was considered righteous, God used Noah and his family to renew the earth. God instructed Noah’s to build an ark to house his family and gather of every kind two animals, birds, creatures, and food. Unfortunately, everything outside of the ark would be wiped out in the flood (Genesis 6:17-21). After the great Flood, God spoke this promise to Noah, “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind (Genesis 9:6). In addition, God established a covenant with Noah with the promise never again to destroy life or the earth with a flood (Genesis 9:11).
Destroying life through the death penalty or abortion are issues that divide believers. According to Genesis 9:6, one could argue the use of the death penalty is unacceptable. Another argument, because of Christ’s death on the cross, it became unnecessary to execute murderers. In order to serve God, human life should be valued and given another chance (Hebrews 9:14).
In 2015, 638,169 legal induced abortions were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 49 reporting areas. Many Christians consider abortion as murder—killing an unborn child. Jeremiah was reminded before God formed him in the womb, God knew him (Jeremiah 1:5). The Old Testament includes one curious example of a pregnancy terminated through the action of a priest. A test is given to a wife to determine she is unfaithful to her husband. The priest gives the wife bitter water to drink, and if she is unfaithful, she will miscarry (Numbers 5:11-13).
All human lives matter to God. As stated earlier regarding God’s promise to Noah, mankind was created in the image of God and God expects believers to protect and value human lives (Genesis 9:6). Believers are to protect human lives by advocating for those who cannot speak for themselves.
Are there other arguments, based on Scripture, for or against the death penalty and abortion?
In Action and Attitude (Matt. 5:21-22)
Jesus cites the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue given at Mt. Sinai, “You shall not murder” in Exodus 20:13, to emphasize that the law prohibited murder (Matthew 5:21). In the Decalogue, murder does not include killing in self-defense, war or accidental manslaughter. Intentional murder of human life calls for judgment. Jesus relates murder in the same way as the believer’s intent to wrongly treat and devalue others. The actions and attitudes of believers always should be to imitate Christ’s humility by valuing others above themselves (Philippians 2:1-4).
Margie Clayton is minister of education at Berean Tabernacle Baptist Church in Liberty.