With reference to appropriate examples, discuss what Christians comprehend by the principle of the Sacredness of Human Life.  Beliefs about the sanctity of life lie at the heart of all the ethical disputes on embryo experiments, abortion and euthanasia. This is the Christian belief that all life is a sacred gift from God, which humans are not at liberty to destroy or explore it. All human beings are developed ‘Imago Dei’– in the image of God– and have intrinsic worth. In examining why they think this, a great place to start is what the Bible states.
According to the Christian Institute, the Bible plainly supports the view that life starts at conception. The fundamental restriction on killing, and the basis for it, is set out in Genesis 9:6: “Whoever sheds the blood of male, by guy shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made guy.” Only guy has a soul. Just guy was made in God’s image, God’s similarity (Genesis 1:26).
The Bible talks of God understanding a private from conception (Jeremiah 1:5). David stated he was “sinful from the time my mom developed me”.
So David required a Saviour from the very point of his conception. Task mentions God moulding him like clay and forming his skin, flesh and bones. In Psalm 139, the Psalmist applauds God whom he states “created my inmost being … [and] knit me together in my mom’s womb”. God’s knowledge of the Psalmist goes back to his development in the womb when he “was made in the secret place”.
God saw his “unformed body”, that is, God saw the Psalmist as an embryo. It follows that the human soul must exist from conception. Body and soul can not be separated till death.
Our significance, therefore the claim to defense, derives not from our ‘quality of life’ or gifts and abilities, however from our status as being made in God’s image. The Christian belief in the sanctity of life then informs the concern of personhood. The Roman Catholic Church in specific thinks that personhood is given from the minute of conception. This is due to their affirmation of the principle in Natural Law teaching in the main precepts identified by Aquinas and subsequent implications, e. g. innocent human life must be protected. Natural Law is deontological.
It deals with absolute moral principles that look at whether an action is right or wrong. Killing, whether abortion or euthanasia, is seen as equivalent to murder. This explains why the Catholic Church is opposed to abortion, euthanasia, embryo research etc. Life and Death issues are much more black and white with Natural Law. The sacredness of life is a principle that can be applied to many situations, including abortion, euthanasia, I. V. F. , embryo experimentation and suicide. Using abortion as an example, conservative churches such as the Roman Catholic Church and the Free Presbyterian Church are against abortion.
They believe abortion is murder of the innocent and have respect for human life right from conception. The Catholic Church has an essentialist view of abortion that does not allow for exceptional circumstances, even rape. In the Humanae Vitae of 1968 Pope Pius VI said, “human life is sacred. ” This was followed up with the Declaration on Procured Abortion, 1974, where it states that women’s rights, though good in themselves, cannot be an excuse for abortion when it denies another person the fundamental right to life.
Furthermore, Christians use the ethics of Kant to promote the sacredness of life. There is some debate surrounding what his religious beliefs actually were, but Kant knows that we cannot prove moral principles based on experience. Morality is synthetic a priori – statements about the world that cannot be confirmed by looking at the world. Kant asks “If there were such a thing as morality, what would it be like? ” The simple answer – we should all treat people as we would like to be treated. This leads to an obvious sanctity of life position, as rational people don’t usually want to be killed.
However, Christendom is extremely diverse and many hold less absolutist positions, believing that life should be treated with dignity but not kept alive at all costs. This view is similar to situation ethics. Situation Ethics demands that you do the most loving thing in any circumstance. There are no hard and fast rules. Situation Ethics is pragmatic, and would look at what is in people’s best interests. Situation Ethicists would advocate ignoring rules about sanctity of life in order to do the pragmatic thing. That doesn’t mean that you should discard the rule about not killing one person to save others.
It’s a good rule, but in some situations (each situation is different) love will motivate you to break the rules. Liberal churches such as the United Methodist Church hold such a view. Overall, Christians who believe in the sanctity of life believe that a human embryo is not a potential human being; it is a human being with potential. Professor John Wyatt, Professor of Neonatal Paediatrics at University College, London, rejects the notion that personhood depends on how you function: “Our dignity is intrinsic, in the way we have been made. ”