Summary: A message addressed an issue - Sanctity of Human Life - that ultimately affects each of us in so many extraordinary ways.
WHOSE LIVES SHOULD BE PROTECTED, VALUED, SACRIFICED OR RELEASED?
Perth Bible Church, Sunday AM January 21, 2007 Pastor Todd G. Leupold
PREFACE: Before I begin this morning, I want you to know that other than my Mom’s funeral this may be the most emotionally difficult and wrenching sermon I’ve ever developed. It has cut deeply to my heart. I say this to ask for your patience and grace if I struggle and stumble along . . . at least more than usual. Please also keep in mind that, for reasons I hope will become obvious, my introduction this morning will be the longest portion of the message.
INTRODUCTION: What Ever Happened To Human Dignity?
Perhaps the most starkly vivid example of indignities against human beings that we all have a shared knowledge of is the Holocaust perpetuated by Nazi Germany in the 1940s. When people mention the Holocaust, the most common association is the imprisonment, starvation and mass killing of Jewish people. “Ethnic cleansing.” Gravely, however, this was just one of the atrocities to human dignity by Nazi Germany. Thousands upon thousands of committed Christians and people of other ethnicities, races, and other religious and political persuasions suffered as well. Further, the Nazi atrocities were not limited to hard labor, starvation, and mass killings in the gas chambers and shooting fields. Thousands of others were humiliated, tortured, de-humanized and even killed in the name of “scientific advancement” and “small sacrifices for a greater public good.”
Human beings were treated as scientific samples and “guinea pigs.” Some were forced into human “breeding experiments” that included not only rape but a horrendous variety of forced dietary, chemical, and other impositions through a heart-less trial-and-error process created to learn how to “breed a better human.” Similarly, others were subjected to unmentionable experiments to test the limits of human capabilities, healing, endurance and genetic manipulation. Those most often sacrificed in this manner were women, the elderly and the disabled. The very definition of what it means to be “human” was redefined as something to be determined by individual functionality rather than inherent worth. Infanticide, eugenics, euthanasia and abortion were all considered necessary acts of ’mercy’ for the betterment and improvement of the greater society and world.
After World War II, when a new, Democratic Government was formed in what became West Germany those responsible added a constitutional clause designed to prevent any repeat in ’kind’ or in ’spirit’ of these Nazi atrocities. This essential clause simply stated that “human dignity is inviolable.” That is, it is from that point on it would be illegal to in any way violate human dignity. What a wonderful clause! Just imagine if every government included and honored such a principle?
Thank God, we live in America – a country whose Declaration of Independence began by acknowledging: “the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle” and the “self-evident truths” 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” - so that human dignity would never be forgotten, taken for granted or violated.
So, in Germany, it was thought that assaults against human dignity would forever be ancient history. Unfortunately, even in a country with such a history and that had done so much to reaffirm the value of human dignity and all human life began to forget and ignore it over the years. On May 28, 1993, the highest court in Germany remembered and did something about it. In a decision that would create a firestorm of protest and conflict in our own country, the German high court struck down previously passed abortion laws that they determined did not sufficiently respect or protect unborn life. Their decision was based and supported by the constitutional clause that “human dignity is inviolable.”
Fast-forward to our time. It has been estimated that in 1987 alone, between 36 and 53 million children were aborted world-wide. In 1995, 1,210,883 legally documented abortions in the US were reported to the CDC. Without dispute, there were countless others unreported (reporting is entirely voluntary). On any given day, if you turn to any form of media in the US you are likely to read at least one significant report concerning other “life” issues such as genetic engineering, cloning, so-called “mercy killings,” “assisted suicide,” embryonic stem cells, and extreme “modifications.” Our common vocabulary has been expanded to include terms such as “bioethics,” “selective reproduction,” “population control,” and the right to life has been superseded by a “right to die.” Why, after thousands or - according to some, even tens of millions of years – of existence we are now suddenly unable to define “life” or what it means to “be human?” Like Nazi Germany, we no longer talk about life as something of intrinsic worth, but as something to be measured according to subjective ’value.’ Whatever happened to human dignity?