Intrinsic Human Value Is the Same for All and Can Never Be Lost

Christians believe in the intrinsic value of every human being because we’re created in God’s image. Nothing negates that image and the value it instills in every human being, not even sin. Every human bears that value throughout his or her life. This is why anything that violates that value is evil and sin.

Because we are Christians, we revile abortion, condemn racism, reject euthanasia, and denounce murder no matter who the victim is. I’ve been thinking about how several news stories are connected because the running theme is how this value was ignored to justify evil done to people.

A university professor stated that the status of the unborn in the womb depends on what the mother will ultimately decide to do with it—it’s a human being if she lets it live, but it’s merely a clump of cells if she aborts it. And Iceland is “eradicating Down syndrome.” Of course, they’re not eradicating the condition; they’re eradicating the unborn children with the condition.

Racists rallied because they believe their skin color makes them more valuable than other human beings. They and other groups vandalize, injure, and murder because they’ve dehumanized other people because of their skin color or because of what they believe.

Charlie Gard in England was denied possible life-saving medical treatment because the government determined his life wasn’t worth living because it lacked certain qualities they deemed essential for his life to have value worth living.

Last year, gay men and women were shot down in a nightclub because someone concluded their sin invalidated their human value.

A human being comes into existence the moment the egg is fertilized. No one’s desire for that baby changes its status as a valuable human being. If it’s human, there’s no justification for aborting it; if it’s not human, then there’s no justification needed to abort it for any reason. It only matters what it is—a member of the human race, and in virtue of that alone, it deserves protection.

Race has been used as an excuse throughout human history to subjugate and abuse other human beings. The Bible tells us that all of us trace our lineage to one man and woman that God created. Race isn’t relevant, then, to value because we all bear God’s image and share our ancestry to God’s original creation. We are all equally valuable human beings. And certainly the views we hold don’t make some less worthy than others, deserving abuse.

Quality of life can’t negate intrinsic human value. We bear God’s image, and that gives lives value even when they are fraught with illness and disease. Our obligation is to care and protect the weak and vulnerable, not end their lives because the quality is deemed a low standard. And the government, especially, should not be empowered to make such a declaration. We cannot declare some lives are unworthy of life because we fear that life will be difficult to live.

All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. While we call people to be reconciled to God, it doesn’t follow at all that some sins make some people less worthy, less valuable. In fact, it’s in virtue of every person’s inherent value as God’s creation that we cannot condone sin but also believe that every one of us is so loved that Jesus gave Himself to redeem us out of our sin. The Bible doesn’t devalue people by identifying our sin. God calls us to admit our sin precisely because we are His valuable and loved creations and He wants to reconcile us to Himself. And even rejecting this offer cannot negate someone’s intrinsic value.

Because the Bible tells us that we are all God’s creations with equal dignity and value, this is why Christianity as a worldview is superior to every other when it comes to supporting human equality. Materialism has a hold on our world right now. Humans are understood to be merely products of random, meaningless, physical processes. The only value and dignity possible is subjective, whatever someone chooses to assign. That kind of value can be granted and revoked—and it is every single day. That kind of worldview cannot support equality for every human being. Even if the biblical worldview hasn’t been followed consistently by some who claim to be Christian, it doesn’t mean it has failed; it means it hasn’t been followed consistently.

We need to look closely at worldviews to see what follows from living them consistently. Materialism justifies deeming some lives less valuable than others because there is no value other than what we subjectively assign. Not all religions place the high value on human life that Christianity does. The Biblical worldview is the only foundation for valuing each and every person.

Human beings are special because they aren’t accidents of evolution, but intentional, special creations by God, who placed His own image on us. He desires our fellowship. We are so loved and valued that He offers us a relationship that’s not dependent on our living up to a standard; by mercy and grace He offers it to us freely.

Tim Keller sums it up this way in The Reason for God:

The Christian Gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone.

The Christian Gospel answers the deepest cry of our hearts—to be loved and accepted, to be valued unconditionally.

Melinda Penner

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