What does Mennonite Brethren theology have in common with that of other Christian denominations? And what are the distinctive emphases of Mennonite Brethren theology? Informed by Scripture, our Confession of Faith names the perspectives through which we read God’s Word in order to live as Christ’s followers. This series by the Board of Faith and Life explores the 18 articles of this formative document.
The Sanctity of Human Life
How much are we worth?
Some might answer in terms of monetary value (i.e., cost of the basic chemicals which make up the physical body); aptitudes and natural talents; success in societal, business, and institutional situations. These evaluations fail to account for many of the assets humans bring to each other (i.e., relational support, love, joy), basing worth on technical knowledge and ability to produce. Unfortunately, we all take this limited view of our fellow human beings at times.
But what does God say regarding our worth? How are we to understand our integral worth in the light of being a creation of Almighty God? These questions are answered in our Confession of Faith and explained and applied by the Commentary and Pastoral Application.
Here are some of the critical conclusions the Confession lays out regarding the sanctity of human life.
- What sets the human race apart from all of the rest of creation? “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). We are not only created in the image of God, but all humans have the “breath of life” and therefore are “living beings.”
- Our worth is not contingent on the condition of our bodies. What we look like or what we can do does not matter when it comes to the preciousness of the life with which the Creator has endowed us (Psalm 139:13–16).
- Counter to what some people would propose today, the Bible explicitly declares that our personhood, our existence, does not end when we die physically. (Acts 24:15)
- The provision of salvation through the death of our Saviour is the ultimate declaration regarding humanity’s worth to God. Jesus died so that all peoples will have the opportunity to have a restored relationship with God that he intended when he created Adam and Eve. (Romans 5:8, Ephesians 2:4–5; 1 John 3:16)
The Commentary and Pastoral Application focuses on this truth in light of abortion, euthanasia, and suicide.
This truth should impact our attitude and approach as we minister.
- Jesus commands us to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). Why is evangelizing our world an unavoidable prerogative? Because of God’s value of each person on earth. God is not willing that any should perish (i.e., spend eternity away from his presence), but that everyone come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9b).Because we believe in the sanctity of human life, we must do our best to tell our family, friends and neighbours about the saving love and mercy of God.
- All around us are hurting people. Physical, financial, or social situations may cause people to feel alone and abandoned, without (in their minds) an ounce of hope. We must regard people in these situations in the same way that God does. God has given them life. God desires to have a relationship with them that will provide his peace, love, and security.Because we believe in the sanctity of human life, we should be in the forefront of efforts to help those who are hurting. (1 Peter 3:15)
- For all who feel caught in whirlpools such as addiction and prostitution, Jesus declares that he has come to seek and to save all who are lost. (Luke 19:10) Whatever ensnares us, we all need to experience the freedom and forgiveness that is only realized in saving work of Jesus.God has given of us life, and because of this, we all have worth. If we believe in the sanctity of human life, we must help those who need to be rescued by the power of God.
- The truth of the sanctity of human life applies in ministering alongside those who disabilities. Our worth comes not from our own abilities or conformity to society’s expectations, but from Jesus’ death for us.This means that, in Jesus’ name, we serve and are served by those who are different from ourselves.How do you show individuals with disabilities that they are valuable friends and servants of God? This is an area where we can demonstrate that we truly believe in the sanctity of life based in God’s creation, not our abilities.
Are we doing all that we can to minister for our Lord by demonstrating our value on the sanctity of life?
Let us be light in the darkness. Let us be advocates of justice. Let us be proclaimers of God’s love and salvation. For we are called to be his ambassadors who, on his behalf, appeal for and proclaim God’s desire for reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:14–6:2).
[David J.E. Olson is a former member of the BFL. He serves as associate pastor of Waldheim (Sask.) MB Church..
This is very clear and concise. Thank you.