The American Declaration of Independence, adopted on July 4, 1776, contains these famous words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” (emphasis added throughout).
Regarding “truths,” remember that, unlike many people today, many of the American founding fathers believed that there were absolute truths, and that those truths were found in the Bible, which they regarded as the revelation of God. These truths are true for everyone, not just Americans. So what is the biblical evidence for the truths they wrote about in the Declaration of Independence?
(For an explanation of the meanings of “self-evident” and “unalienable,” see our article “Is Liberty a God-Given Right?” in last month’s issue.)
Regarding people being “created equal,” the Bible reveals that all people have the same spiritual potential and ultimate opportunity, and God judges all in the same way. “God shows personal favoritism to no man” (Galatians 2:6).
This also means that human governments should follow the example of God in respecting the rights of every citizen and treating everyone fairly and equally under the law. No one should be “above the law,” not even the highest officials in the government. Additionally, the rights and freedoms of the weakest members of society should be guarded as zealously as the freedoms of the strongest members.
God, our great Designer, Creator and Life giver
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). For humans and every other creature, God designed appropriate food to sustain them (Psalm 104:14, 21, 27).
God gave life, and He designed the means for reproduction so life could be passed on from generation to generation. A major point to remember is that life can only come from life. That’s known as the law of biogenesis. Life of any kind, apart from God’s direct intervention, has never been produced from inanimate matter! Evolutionists like to talk about how life forms have experienced changes (actually only minor changes occur), but they can’t begin to explain the origin of life. The only logical explanation is what the Bible tells us: God created all life!
God gave Adam and Eve by far the highest form of physical life. “God created man in His own image” and “likeness”—with God-like potential and abilities far superior to any other physical creature! (Genesis 1:26-27). The fact that God gave human beings rulership over every other living creature proves the vast superiority of man over animals (verse 28). As Jesus said, “Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:31).
The primary factor that causes human minds to be vastly superior to animal brains and instincts is that God has put “a spirit in man” (Job 32:8). Zechariah 12:1, 1 Corinthians 2:11 and several other scriptures make this revelation. We humans are indeed “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). Since every human being is the prized pinnacle of God’s creation, isn’t it logical that God would place great value on the life of each and every one?
Furthermore, there is something even more significant than the physical, mental and spiritual abilities of humans. What is most important is the reason for our existence: our purpose, our destiny. Every single human being is a potential member of the God Family! Our purpose and destiny is to become sons of God and live forever in the Kingdom of God! This most-awesome subject is explained in our booklet What is Your Destiny?, which is available to you free of charge.
The fact that every human being is a candidate for the Kingdom of God should make it absolutely clear as to why every person is precious to God.
The Bible teaches the sanctity of human life and health
The Bible condones the hunting of animals but forbids the murder of humans. The sixth Commandment says, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). Of all life on earth, God is primarily concerned about human life.
Since God is the Author of life, only He can authorize human beings to take the life of other human beings. When God ruled over His own nation, the ancient nation of Israel, He authorized capital punishment for certain crimes, and, at times, He authorized the Israelites to make war on various enemies.
That said, people are badly mistaken when they think that God regards human life as cheap. He did order the extermination of some evil people, but that prevented them from causing more harm to others. What people fail to realize is that those people are not forever lost or doomed, even though they died. They will come up in a resurrection to have an opportunity to repent and gain eternal life.
The fact that God instituted capital punishment for certain crimes, including murder and kidnapping, also shows the high value God placed on life. “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man” (Genesis 9:6). The threat of capital punishment was a huge deterrent to murder and other crimes and therefore reduced the frequency of those crimes.
God is also concerned that we not injure one another. The Bible not only specifies capital punishment for capital crimes, but it also specifies appropriate punishments for other crimes, including those that caused injury or property loss. Those laws were a deterrent to violence and irresponsibility.
The Bible has many health laws, plus other scriptures giving advice about health. Obviously, God wants us to try to maintain good health!
The Old Testament relates examples of God healing people of health problems, but the New Testament even more powerfully conveys God’s compassion for people. During Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry, He spent a great deal of time healing people, which not only showed His power, but also His great love for people, including His concern for their physical needs! Jesus was the perfect role model of love, and we are supposed to imitate His example.
We not only should do no harm to people, we should also offer help to people whenever we have the opportunity (Romans 13:8-10; Philippians 2:1-4). The parable of the good Samaritan shows that we should be willing to sacrifice our time and resources to be a good neighbor to others (Luke 10:27-37).
Biblical laws provided equal protection and concern for everyone, not just upper classes. Jesus’ respect and compassion for everyone was certainly made clear when He helped and healed the poor, minorities, women, children, and the sick and injured—anyone and everyone, especially those in a weak condition.
The more helpless people are, the more God wants others to help them. He despises the stronger abusing the weaker. For example, one law says, “You shall not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind, but shall fear your God: I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:14).
Today, the most defenseless victims are unborn children who are aborted. God abhors abortion. He also abhors a society putting to death old, weak and handicapped people because some leaders think they have become more of a burden to society than a useful contribution to it.
You see, the Bible does not just place great value on human life in general, but also on the life of every individual. Jesus emphasized this when He compared God to a “good shepherd” who cares not just for the flock as a whole, but for every single sheep in the flock (Matthew 18:10-14; John 10:10-15). God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). God will eventually offer every human being the equal opportunity for eternal life in His Family!
The Greco-Macedonian Empire placed more value on human life than did most previous civilizations. It’s probable that God was behind its rise to power, since its influence helped to pave the way for the teachings of Jesus Christ. Christ, more than anyone else in history, taught the high value of every human life (while also teaching that no one but God should be worshiped) regardless of race, gender, age, health or any other characteristic.
People who don’t have a biblical worldview often view life as cheap. A logical implication of the theory of evolution is that humans are no better than animals. In fact, some extreme environmentalists regard animals as being even more worthy of protection than people. They will push for the preservation of some tiny animal while condoning abortion, euthanasia and “population control” (meaning population reduction).
A culture of life places high value on every human being. Most nations that have a dominant culture of life have been strongly influenced by Biblical Christianity. They emphasize safety, health and health care for everyone. Nations where life is devalued impose harsh penalties for even minor “crimes.” Nations and religions that teach the killing of “infidels” (non-believers of their religion) and encourage suicide bombings can be said to have a culture of death.
National leaders without the Judeo-Christian worldview often elevate the welfare of the state above the welfare of the people. To them, the “needs” of the state are justification for abolishing individual liberties, often little by little. At its extreme, this view justifies executing opponents and exterminating citizens that the state has designated as being unnecessary or undesirable. The perverse goal of “improving” the primary racial makeup of the nation becomes the excuse for ethnic cleansing and genocide.
Eternal life even far more important than human life
As valuable as human life is, eternal glorified life in the Kingdom of God is far more important. And sometimes a human being will sacrifice his physical life to gain eternal life—such as someone who chooses to be a martyr rather than deny Jesus Christ.
Jesus said, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his [physical] life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:34-36).
However, there usually is no conflict between taking care of your physical health and taking care of your spiritual health. Consider the principle Jesus stated: “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much” (Luke 16:10). Often someone who is diligent in health matters is also diligent in spiritual matters. And good health is a huge advantage for a servant of God. A person in good health can be a more energetic, effective and productive in accomplishing God’s Work.
Even in the short space of this article, we’ve addressed many biblical principles that show the sanctity of human life. Much more could be written.
In summary, it is “God who gives life to all things” (1 Timothy 6:13). One way of honoring God is to honor all those whom God created in His own image for a very special destiny.
God created us with a natural love for ourselves. Part of that love is a healthy desire for self-preservation, because God expects us to cherish and protect our life and health. But what God teaches us through His Word is to make it our goal to love our neighbors (everyone else) as much as ourselves. That, of course, means we should be as protective of the lives of others as we are protective of our own lives.
Likewise, one of the major purposes of human governments should be to protect their citizens (and visitors who come peaceably) from harm. Government leaders are good and wise when they look upon all people as the creation of God and as potential sons of God.
Consider this question: In a world with billions of Bibles, why is there so much spiritual ignorance, evil and callousness toward human life? A major reason is that, until Christ returns to set up His government on earth, God is allowing Satan the devil to be the “ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11).
Satan hates all people, largely because he is jealous of their awesome destiny. He is a murderer (John 8:44). He is also called “Abaddon” (meaning destruction) and “Apollyon” (meaning destroyer, see Revelation 9:11). He is continually trying to influence all humans—and all human governments—to hate others, hurt others and to kill others.
However, God will protect those who rely on Him. God inspired James to write, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). This promise gives us great comfort and confidence!
Notice how Jesus Christ described the contrast between Himself and Satan: “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief [Satan] does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly (John 10:9-10).
For more information, request your free copy of Life's Ultimate Question: Does God Exist? and What Is Your Destiny?.