‘Sanctity of life’ a christian perspective
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Christians believe by the phrase ‘sanctity of life’ that all life is special to God and should not be treated badly or discarded thoughtlessly. Each human being is a separate, living person, with many rights. Christian’s beliefs about God being the creator include the belief that all human beings are created as individuals. Every individual is unique; there is no life like any other in the universe. Human beings have a special place in God’s eyes and in his creation and the fact that every person is made in God’s image is a gift from God.
The following passage from Genesis shows the special nature of humans:
Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our own image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; make and female he created them.
This passage portrays that humans are special and God made the world for human beings before he even created them and the world was able to sustain them.
Christians live their life based around the Sanctity of life and believe:
*Life if god given
*Human life is precious
*God has a plan for every human life
*All life deserves respect
*Life should not be destroyed
In terms of human life, this often relates to Christians views on abortion and euthanasia. The Sanctity of life is a core Christian belief, but in today’s society there are times when the belief may be hard to uphold or lead to difficult questions. Whilst many would believe that human life if special and should be respected, some would ask:
*Is life always worth living?
*What if someone wants to die?
*What life awaits a severely brain-damaged baby?
*Is one life more sacred than another?
*Is a mother’s life more sacred then that of her unborn child?
*At what point does a foetus become a human being?
*If you cannot live life to the full, is there any reason to carry on living?
*When does life being and end?
Advances in technology over the past decades means doctors are now able to create life where there was none before and people who would once have died are now kept alive. What are the suggestions of this for the idea of God being the sole creator or giver and taker of life?
Abortion is not directly mentioned in the New Testament or the Old Testament, however both discuss the sacredness of each individual human life. The Old Testament refers to unborn babies as humans, which indicates they are people and should be allowed the full rights of a born baby: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.’ In this passage it tells us: God mapped out our lives before our conceptions and has chosen what we will do. Therefore it is not our choice to end a new life because God may have great plans for that person.
In conclusion we can see that Christians believe all life is sacred as it is a gift from God and God’s decisions should not be tampered with, hence abortion should not take place unless the case is extreme.
The issue of euthanasia also relates to the sanctity of life. Euthanasia is ending a person’s life deliberately, but for compassionate reasons, euthanasia is illegal in Britain. The Sanctity of life clearly states that ‘Life should not be destroyed’, and in Exodus 201-17, one of the Ten Commandments states ‘You shall not murder’. So is euthanasia seen as murder, mercy killing or gentle and easy death?
Most Christians are against euthanasia. The arguments are usually based on the beliefs that life is given by God and that Human beings are made in God’s image. Some churches also emphasise the importance of not interfering with the natural process of death. The Roman Catholic view is strictly against euthanasia and believes it to be morally wrong. Referring back to the Sanctity of life, the roman catholic view could be based around the fact that all life deserves respect and there is a plan for every human life, including when the human dies, therefore it is not for us but for God to decided when to take away a person life.
Similarly to abortion, all life is sacred and God’s decisions should not be interfered with hence euthanasia should not take place as it is ending a person’s life earlier then it should do, and this is what Psalm 139: 13-16 states.
The Sanctity of life teaches that life is a gift from God and should be valued no matter whether it be the beginning or end of someone’s life.
Abortion is the deliberate termination of the life of a foetus. It was legalised in 1967, mainly to stop back street abortion, which often lead to the mother’s death. A lot of Christians have different opinions on when life begins; some think that it is a t conception while others believe it is at some time during the pregnancy period.
The Roman Catholics and Evangelical Protestants believe life begins at conception therefore the Sanctity of life forbids a termination. Although they may have non-religious beliefs towards abortion like ending a life can be dangerous and wrong, they also believe that an unborn child has Jesus’ image and only God has the right to end a pregnancy. I think the Catholic view is a little extreme; their idea on the issue could cause significant bodily or mental harm to the mother if they have to continue with the unwanted pregnancy.
Other Christians have different views on abortion and will only allow it in certain circumstances, for example a rape. Although in the result of a rape, one may believe the unborn child has done no harm, most Christians believe abortions should be allowed in this case as the child may be unwanted and could mentally affect the potential mother.
The majority of Christians think an abortion is also allowed if the child would be severely handicapped at birth as the child’s quality of life might be worse than death. Both Christians and non-religious people believe that the mother’s life should come first so if the mother would be at risk in childbirth, the pregnancy is aborted if the mother wishes so. Referring back to the sanctity of life, people may believe that if life can be broken in tragedies such as war, abortion should be allowed.
There are alternatives to abortion, but unlike an abortion they do mean having to allow the baby to be born. Some of the alternatives for abortion are: giving the baby up for adoption, putting the baby into a temporary care unit until the mother can cope or having it being fostered, or having the family looking after it in turns.
In conclusion, although the Bible stresses the amazing miracle of birth it implies (without ever mentioning it) that abortion is not a very respected idea and all new birth should be treasured. However, this cannot apply in a modern age where all kinds of complication and ulterior situations will arise from unwanted pregnancies. So some Christians may say that any waste of life, even sperm, is bad while other say that abortion is a necessary operation if the pregnancy may harm the baby or mother in some way.
The sanctity of life also emphasizes that life should not be destroyed which relates to the issue of euthanasia. As mentioned before, Christians believe life is important no matter whether it be at the end of a person’s life or the beginning, whether the person is fit or unhealthy. Euthanasia is ending a person’s life deliberately, but for compassionate reasons. Euthanasia is illegal in Britain but that hasn’t stopped people going to other countries where it is legal to get it done.
Christians are mainly against euthanasia. The arguments are usually based on the beliefs that life is given by God, and that human beings are made in God’s image. Some churches also emphasise the importance of not interfering with the natural process of death. The Roman Catholic Church regards euthanasia as morally wrong. It has always taught the absolute value of the commandment “You shall not kill”? The church has said that:
“nothing and no one can in any way permit the killing of an innocent human being whether a foetus or an embryo, an infant or an adult, an old person or one suffering from an incurable disease or a person who is dying.”
Although many Christians are against euthanasia, there are also arguments for it, such as: God wants people to have quality of life, and if someone has no quality of life then euthanasia maybe acceptable. God has also given people dominion over other living things and free will, which they can use to end their own lives. However, opposing that one could say there may be a purpose to suffering so people may learn from it.
There are alternatives to euthanasia, for example: care. It is more compassionate to care for the dying than to speed up death and there are foundations open for the terminally ill such as St Christopher’s Hospice. St Christopher’s Hospice is a Christian foundation with staff and volunteers and is open to all who need its care regardless of race, creed, or ability to pay. The Hospice is a medical foundation working to improve the quality of life remaining for people, this foundation not only help the sick but also the families of those patients to cope with the death and prepare for it fully. If the sick are suffering pain, there are many new pain relief’s such as new pain killers which are less addictive with fewer side effects and are more efficient, Drug therapy, TENS machine, Homeopathic and herbal remedies. Although these will not cure the illness, it will help people from their pain, allowing them not to suffer from it so much.
I agree with the above statement to a certain extent. I think that no religion or people should make others try to accept their position, and Christians are no exception to this. Each individual or religion can have their own opinions to different views for example with the issue of abortion, the Roman Catholic Church believe it is wrong in all circumstances, whereas Muslim’s are taught that abortion is acceptable up to the point where the foetus has a soul. Christians themselves do not all have one point of view, for example Roman Catholic’s completely forbid the termination of a foetus, whereas other Christians believe an abortion is acceptable in some circumstances such as rape, so if Christians cannot agree amongst themselves, then one may ask: what right have they got to tell other people what to do?
People may however disagree with this statement, they may argue that Jesus said in John’s Gospel: “I am the way, the truth and the light.” Therefore Christians should follow and should try and persuade others of Jesus’ example as he also said to his Disciples: “Go forth and teach all nations.” Thus as Christians become Disciples of Jesus they should also try to convince people that Jesus’ teachings should be followed, which in the case of abortion and euthanasia, would be to go against it. Avery famous man called Mahatma Gandhi once said, if you are right and you know what you believe in is true then stick to it even if your on your own.
Christians do not have the right to force others to accept their position or make them believe in what they believe in for example, believing that abortions and euthanasia are wrong. They can however inform people about the alternatives.
In conclusion, I think that what Christians believe about life is up to them and they should not try to make others accept their position, they should however stick to what they believe in, for example with abortion or euthanasia. On these issues, they should not try and force others to believe one of the Christians views but if someone was considering one of the options, they could explain the alternatives, which is similar to spreading the word of Jesus in saying that there are other options.