Sanctity of Life, God and Religion

Many times, a prolife stance may turn into a discussion about God and religion. Unfortunately, imagery and Christianity tends to remind those standing outside those religious paradigms of their separateness; the exact opposite effect of fostering and understanding of unity and connected thinking.

An atheist who rejects the belief that there is a Divine force that surrounds us and guides us may be put off by the use of religious imagery. In a recent news story, an atheist group filed a lawsuit in New York to remove the cross (a distinctly Christian symbol) from the Ground Zero memorial at the site of the World Trade Center.

Indeed, people on both sides of this issue may be missing the point. Those who put up the cross meant well and likely were not seeking to alienate anyone. Yet it is likely atheists have not been the only segment to notice the cross speaks to Christian loss and grieving—at exclusion by omission of all other faiths (or in the atheists’ case, non-faith.)

A peace-loving Muslim who may have suffered racial or religious rebuke by their non-Muslim neighbors as a result of the 9/11 attacks may notice a purely Christian monument at the center of Ground Zero and feel a pang of isolation. In that moment, that person may feel very much outside the American melting pot in which they are trying to belong.

Often in prolife circles, the sanctity of human life argument is placed squarely upon quotes from the Bible. Here are several of the more poignant biblical verses:

  • So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. ~ Genesis 1:27
  • You shall not murder. ~ Exodus 20:13
  • I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. ~ Deuteronomy 30:19b-20
  • Before I was born the Lord called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name. ~ Isaiah 49:1b
  • Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart. ~ Jeremiah 1:5a
  • For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. ~ Jeremiah 29:11
  • Your hands have made and fashioned me. ~ Psalm 119:73a
  • You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works! My very self you knew; my bones were not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, fashioned as in the depths of the earth. Your eyes foresaw my actions; in your book all are written down; my days were shaped, before one came to be. ~ Psalm 139:13-16

It is my belief that the principle of the sanctity of life is separate from any religious backing. Regardless of which body of religious teachings you hold—whether built upon the Bible, the Qur’an, the Tanakh, or other religious works—I believe the idea of sanctity of life to be a separate issue. Your religion (really, your interpretation of your religion) may agree with a belief in the sanctity of life and if it does, great. However, I believe the sanctity of life to be a universal principle and this is different than being a religious mandate, subject to interpretation by a group of believers.

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One thought on “Sanctity of Life, God and Religion”

  1. Religious beliefs do not have to be a part of the discussion so long as decisions affecting the masses are based upon the sound humane principles of respect, honor and compassion for all. In the absence of well-defined guidance, religion will regularly offer the moral foundation upon which to base decisions and actions.

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