Often, when I hear others talking about abortion, the focus is on the innocence of the fetus. Moral outrage grows because of the innocence and defenselessness of the child. But I would submit to you that the true reason that abortion is sin is not because the fetus is innocent, but because the fetus is human.
You could make an argument from Scripture that the fetus is not innocent at all. All are guilty before God. Given the opportunity to live, any fetus would eventually act out in ways consistent with the sinful nature Scripture teaches we all have. But that baby in the womb has something that gives it worth, innocent or not. It is human—unlike a dog or horse, or my beloved killer whales, humans reflect God. They bear His image. They are imprinted with something reflective of God that no other entity in creation shows.
We have a word for the actions around the inherent dignity of being human. We call it being humane. Humane means the sense of being human. The differences in how a lion treats a wounded human and a human treats a wounded lion are pretty big. For humans living in the essence of what it means to be an elevated ruler of creation, compassionate treatment of animals is a concern. It’s not that we treat the animal like it is a human. It’s that we treat the animal when it is weak or wounded inherently better than another animal would treat it. We treat it humanely. We respond with dignity and care befitting an image bearer of the Creator taking care of creation. And when mob mentality in riots results in people treating others more like animals than humans, we rightfully recoil in horror.
“He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who honors Him has mercy on the poor” (Prov. 14:31).
With immigration reform in the news, I have been thinking again of what it means to be pro-all-of-life, walking day in and day out reflecting the inherent dignity of what it means to be human, what it means to be the one part of creation who bears the image of God.
Immigration is complicated because of the legal, political issues, but what is not complicated is our day-in-and-day-out obligation to treat other humans in light of their dignity simply because they are human. In my own life, my test is not treating new babies humanely, but how I respond to the adult who is down and out. On the outside, they have clearly fallen short of the glory of God that He has called them to reflect. Yet, I remember that, though I look clean on the outside, I too fall short. Then I can turn to the poor man and treat him in the dignified way God has treated me, and in doing so I call him and myself back to what God created us to be in perfection—reflections of Him.
Adapted from Wendy Alsup’s blog, theologyforwomen.org. Wendy has authored three books including By His Wounds You Are Healed: How the Message of Ephesians Transforms a Woman’s Identity. She is also a wife, mom and college math teacher who loves ministering to women.