Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Life as the Imago Dei

In all of the life on planet Earth, including plant life, animal life and humanity only one species carries within each member the greatest distinctive of them all.  It can’t be seen by a microscope or through DNA testing.  It’s not the result of some evolutionary mutation or genetic drift.  Science can’t repeat it in a laboratory.  In fact, many scientists would argue it does not exist.

The foundational story of God’s creative work on earth tells us that when He made the first human He did so by crafting them in a fashion totally different than any other living creature.  So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female.” (Genesis 1:27)

So much could be drawn from that one sentence.  But because today is the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade I’ll just focus on who we are: created in God’s image. 

How is it then that animals and plants, not bearing the image of their Creator rank higher on the preservation list than those who do?  How is it that in the minds of some piping plovers and sea turtles must be protected at all costs, yet ending the life of unborn humans – the only of God’s creation for which Christ died – should be no one’s business but that of a woman and her doctor?  How is it?

The answer must be that somewhere we lost the sacredness of whom we are: bearers of the image of God.  I don’t know when that brick in our cultural foundation was lost, but on January 22, 1973 it was chiseled out by those who should be protecting the rights of the most helpless rather than labeling them persona non grata. 

As a result some fifty million Americans never got a chance to allow God’s image imprinted within them from the moment dad’s sperm hooked up with mom’s egg.  Forty- one years of canceled life.  That would equal two generations.  Could within them have been the mind that would have found the cure for cancer or AIDS?  I guess we’ll never know.

Lest you think I have taken on a political tone today, I assure you for me it is not about politics.  It is about our moral and spiritual compass losing its frame of reference – its true north.  The image of God was buried under the pretense of reproductive rights and convenience while we closed our minds to the rights of the unborn.

Until this greatest American injustice is reversed there is something we can do to mitigate the continued loss of lives.  We can teach our children to be sexually responsible.  We can instill within them values that include life being sacred.  We can adopt those born to parents unable or unwilling to provide home and family.  And we can pray.

Just a little over six years ago I stood in the NICU at Duke, wearing a sterile hospital gown, a sterile mask and sterile latex gloves looking in fear, awe and wonder at a tiny micro-preemie born at 1 lb. 6 oz.  I had never seen anyone like that before, and it cemented in my heart and mind what had already been formed in my conscience and ethics.  Life is precious.  This was a living, breathing person who bore the image of God.

She’s now in kindergarten.  No one gives hugs like hers.  Maybe she’ll grow to come up with the cure.  Maybe not.  But she was given the chance to live, which is what all of us old, young and unborn deserve.  Let the image of God come through.

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