What Is One Life Worth?

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I watched one of those old disaster movies the other day– you know where the world is ending and they have to decide who are the lucky ones who will be saved. This isn’t really my normal style of movie, but I had watched it years ago and a bit of nostalgia nudged me to watch it again. At any rate, in this particular movie, when the announcement was made that a random lottery would be held to save humanity they added this caveat — Anyone over the age of fifty will not be entered into the lottery.

Funny. When I watched this movie the first time I didn’t give a second thought to that sentence. But this time, it really hit home because I am approaching 50 rather rapidly. And my thoughts started turning. Is that what our society really believes? That anyone over fifty isn’t worth saving?

These thoughts came to my mind again this week as I did some transplanting in my greenhouse. I naturally go towards the stronger, taller plants and throw the small, frail-looking ones in the trash. I only need so many plants and when the germination rate is high, I have to pick which ones I am going to keep. Whether or not it was the movie that made that day’s transplanting extra hard, I am not sure, but I found myself feeling rather badly for the small plants and transplanting a few of them just to give them a shot. I know, I know. That is really strange.

But it was with remarkable clarity that I suddenly realized that this is why we should never view humans in the same way we view animals and plants. The Bible tells us that we have been designed by God in His image (Genesis 1:27) and we are each fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-14). We have eternal souls, unlike other forms of life on earth. Whether we are still within the warm womb being shaped or approaching our 90th birthday does not make us any less valuable in God’s eyes and should not make us any less valuable to each other.

But when a culture makes the switch from believing in a Creator to believing that we all just happened by chance, how we view humanity inevitably changes. Because, in this system of belief, everything is simply a bunch of cells that “just happened” to form plants and animals and people (and they say believing in God takes faith?!), the view of the human race naturally becomes equal to that of any other life on this planet. We are no different than dogs or the whales. All are equally important.

Interestingly enough, there are a few ways we have seen this belief take shape. Some people actually elevate animals as more important than humans. Have you run into any of those people who “save the whales” one day and hold a sign for abortion the next? But the fruit of this belief that is even more evil (if that’s possible) than animal elevation is the belief that human life is only worthwhile if it is productive. This is why a society will eventually allow for the practices of infanticide and euthanasia.

You can see it coming. In fact in some ways and in some countries it is already here.  Much of our society does not give a second thought to aborting an imperfect child already. There is also very little value placed on those who are languishing in nursing homes and have become a large “drain” on society. Self-inflicted euthanasia is already a popular reason to travel to the countries of Switzerland and Belgium. In fact, just recently, Belgium even lifted their age restrictions to include suffering children. (See article here) If this is allowed, how close is it until we go to the next step of forced euthanasia? I can’t imagine it will be very long.

And I believe that this all stems from man’s belief about origins. But should we be surprised? It makes complete sense from a worldly perspective that man would try to eliminate all accountability that would keep him from living the way he wants to live. Unfortunately, the consequences of that type of life are very, very high and there is a plethora of negative effects that have been the result of this effort to convince man he is nothing but a bunch of cells. It is not simply coincidence that the amount of fatherless children, divorce rates, and abortions have sky-rocketed in the last fifty to a hundred years.

So what can we do?

First, we need to know why we believe what we do and why it is not the fairy tale the world tells us it is. We need to know God’s Word and what it says about man and his sinful state. We need to understand why it is impossible, not only to believe in evolution, but to believe in anything but a young earth (hint: death cannot come before sin for the gospel to be true).  I am so very grateful for men like Ken Ham and his ministry, Answers in Genesis, who, unapologetically, stand for a young earth.  He has great resources on his website and I highly recommend it.

Second, we need to be willing to speak up as God gives us opportunities. I mentioned in a recent blog post, that we are probably not going to be changing our culture anytime soon. But does Jesus Christ ever mention anything about saving the culture? I can’t think of any verses that call us to do this. No, instead, we are to focus on preaching the gospel and winning disciples (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Mark 13:10). We need to take this more seriously! I need to take this more seriously. We’ve been stone-walled into silence in many ways. Oh, we won’t get hauled off to prison or lose our lives, but a threatened reputation and ridicule are still very effective ways to get people to keep their mouths closed, are they not? Think about how Christians are portrayed in almost any Hollywood movie and the reputation they are given in the press and in politics. It is no easy thing to stand up for Christ. And it shouldn’t be. We have been a bit spoiled in this country with just how accepted Christianity and the Christian world view has been. But no more. That means now is the time for boldness and courage! (Joshua 1:9)

And, finally, I think we need to be careful how we value life. How important it is that the world doesn’t “rub off” on us in this area. Let’s not forget that all people are valuable to God– not just the ones who contribute to society. Precious children, who, with their imperfect bodies and minds, teach their parents invaluable lessons, as well as the elderly souls who are nearing the end of their lives. Our senior population has been pretty much left in the dust, haven’t they? Once they can’t function as a normal human being they are put in a home and pretty much forgotten. But let’s remember that one day that will be us. And the example we set will most likely be followed.

Oh, may we stand boldly and set a good example for future generations. May all who come behind us find us faithful! I conclude with the lyrics from this old song

Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful
May the fire of our devotion light their way
May the footprints that we leave
Lead them to believe
And the lives we live inspire them to obey
Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful!

2 thoughts on “What Is One Life Worth?”

  1. Well said, Leslie! The same can be said of why morals have gone down hill so rapidly. If we are just animals, then there is no right or wrong; there is no standard…we make our own rules. Why then is any murder or violation wrong? why have laws or punishments…if we are all animals. I love the lyrics to that song! May we be bold in our walk for Christ!

    1. That is such a great point, Becky! Yes, morals have been very affected by our view of man. I can’t believe I didn’t think about that correlation. So glad you mentioned it.

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