Let’s be frank: If humans are not made in the image of God, Planned Parenthood should not be censored for destroying or selling tiny humans. As soon as society admits the notion that humans are mere mammals, we have already dehumanized ourselves. That is to say that the farm was sold a long time ago in Western society, and those who hem and haw about the appropriateness of one abortion means over another are either being dishonest or are plagiarizing from a worldview not their own (i.e., Christianity). The only grounds on which to condemn the sale of fetal parts as “barbaric” are explicitly religious (not legal, per se), and specifically Christian at that.

Briefly, a few pertinent sections from the Bible come to mind:

  1. Genesis 1:27 – Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
  2. Genesis 9:6 – After God wiped the world clean (with a flood) because of humanity’s rampant violence, he said, Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.
  3. James 3:9 – James condemns the hypocrisy in claiming to praise God with our mouths while, at the same time, cursing “people who are made in the likeness of God.”

How should the Christian doctrine of the image of God in man change the way I live?

  • If every human is made in the image of God, then each individual is distinct from other forms of life in a special way, and is to be honored and treated with dignity.
  • If every human is made in the image of God, then obviously, behaviors that harm them–whether murder or gossip–are not just crimes against them but against God.
  • If every human is made in the image of God, then I am required(!) to honor and love them like God loves me. We tend to withhold our time and attention from people who can’t benefit us: people from other cultures, other people’s elderly parents, other people’s annoying kids, or the developmentally disabled (whom we assume don’t know whether we care or not… except that sometimes they do, in fact). If we believe that people are made in God’s image, it must change how I spend my time and what goes through my head and mouth in everyday conversations.

I was recently convicted as I read from Luke 9

An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”

It’s easy for us to view people in terms of how they might help further our agendas and reputations, even when we think we’re being “nice.” But Jesus saw people made in the image of God, objects of God’s affection and therefore necessary objects of ours as well. So Jesus taught children, touched people with skin diseases, resisted temptation for people who love caving to it, and died for people who’d rather die than obey. Brothers, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another (1 John 4:11).

If matter is eternal, personhood is an illusion. But if God made us in his image, then we are people, regardless of race, ability, or week of gestation.

Lord, help me as a Christian to mimic you by fearlessly and sacrificially defending the dignity of every person I meet.