The Sanctity of Human Life

It is my position that human life begins at conception and ends at death; all human life is sacred and should be cared for and protected from any beast or man seeking to end human life.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gn. 1:1, NASB) On day three of His creation God brought forth vegetation on the earth. On day five God created the life in the seas and the birds in the air. On day six God created all the living creatures moving on the earth. Lastly, God created man. “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Gn. 1:27, NASB) Since all life was created by God, all life belongs to God; therefore, God has sole authority over all life except when He gives authority to a steward.

The Hebrew word סָכַן sakan is translated into English steward; סָכַן sakan means, to be of use or service. God created man (male and female) in His image to be of use or service to Him. The first question and answer given in the Westminster Shorter Catechism is: “What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and enjoy Him forever.”1

If God has sole authority over all life, because he created all life, then why is it lawful for man to kill and eat the vegetation and the animals, but it is not lawful for man to kill man? The answer, because God created man in His image to make Him steward of the earth. God gave it to man to rule the earth, and God gave man and the beast of the earth the vegetation on the earth for food; (Gn. 1:28-31) after the flood God gave animals to man as food. (Gn. 9:3) God has always forbid that man should kill man except in cases of capital punishment. (cf. Gn. 9:5-6)

God has given us two revelations of Himself: general revelation and particular revelation. General revelation consists of nature, history and the constitution of a human being. Particular revelation is God’s specific communications and manifestations of Himself and His will to particular persons; these persons wrote God’s communications, manifestations and will in the sacred writings that we call Scriptures.2 Science is the study of the physical universe. Science is knowledge gained through observation and experimentation.3

We know through scientific study that at the very moment of conception, within the mother’s womb there is a single cell that contains a DNA helix that is not the DNA of the mother. The genome of the mother and the father combine to form a completely new DNA helix that has never existed before. DNA is the programing to build an organism. In this case, the DNA in the mother’s womb (that is not hers) is the DNA to build a human being.

A secular medical information website says, “At the instant of fertilization, your baby's genes and sex are set. If the sperm has a Y chromosome, your baby will be a boy. If it has an X chromosome, the baby will be a girl.”4 It is understood from this general revelation that what is in the mother’s womb at the moment of conception is a human person that is either a boy or a girl.

Because we are separated from God we need a greater revelation than that of the general revelation. This is the area of Biblical Theology. In his book, Christian Theology, Erickson gave five passages that have been employed throughout church history to give a biblical position on the personhood of the unborn; two Psalms passages, two New Testament passages and one Law passage:5

1. Psalm 51:5, in this passage David acknowledges his sinfulness from conception, thereby indicating that he was a human being from conception.
2. Psalm 139:13-16, in this passage David speaks of God knitting him together in his mother’s womb and of God knowing him before he was fully formed, again indicating that a fetus is a human being.
3. Luke 1:41-44, tells of how John the Baptist leaped in his mother’s womb by the greeting of Mary who was carrying Jesus. This could be seen as a sign of prenatal faith, the faith given to human beings by the Holy Spirit.
4. Hebrews 7:9-10, the writer of Hebrews speaks of how Abraham paid tithe to Melchizedek and said that Levi paid tithe because he was still in Abraham at the time. This could be understood as God seeing every person that would exist as a human being even before conception.
5. Exodus 21:22-25, Jack Cottrell demonstrated through exegetical work on the Hebrew word יָצָא (yatsa) that Exodus 21:22-25 means, “if there is destruction of the fetus.” If the fetus was destroyed then capital punishment should follow, demonstrating that the fetus is considered under the Law of God a human person.

Through general revelation we know that at the moment of conception the mother’s womb contains a human being and through particular revelation (reading the Scriptures) we know that God sees this human being in the mother’s womb as a person. But what of the elderly and the infirmed?

How did Christ treat these types of people? Did He cast them aside or did He see to their needs? The answer is that He saw to their needs and He most certainly did not sanction their death. Jesus healed leprosy, (Mt. 8:1-40 Jesus healed paralysis, (Mt. 8:5-13) Jesus healed fever, (Mt. 8:14-15) and Jesus healed other illnesses. (Mt. 8:16-17) The primary reason that Jesus did these hearings was to demonstrate that He was indeed the Messiah;6 however, as He gazed on the people He had compassion for them. (Mt. 9:36)

“Let me look on the crowd, as my Savior did,
Till my eyes with tears grow dim;
Let me view with pity the wandering sheep,
And love them for love of Him.”7

One of the greatest myths of our secular society is that our lives belong to us. All human life is created by God in His image. Therefore, all human life belongs to God and is sacred in His eyes. God does not sanction the death of the innocent, (cf. Ex. 23:7) whether that be in the mother’s womb or the infirmed.

1Westminster Shorter Catechism, (East Peoria: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2012), 5.
2Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology,3rded. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013), 122-123.
3"Science,", cdli: wiki,
4“Conception & Pregnancy: Ovulation, Fertilization, and More,” cdli: wiki,
5Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology,3rded. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013), 505-508.
6William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary: A complete Bible Commentary in one volume, 4thed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, Inc., 1995), 1230.
7Ibid, 1237.