If you want to express your disgust at a country, how would you do it? What action can you take against a nation that displays your anger towards the people there when you are a long way away and can’t actually touch them?
It’s sadly a common enough sight which you have probably seen on new reels: you burn their flag.
Here’s a similar idea from a different angle:
When a man is going away from his sweetheart for a long time – perhaps to war, perhaps some other situation has torn them apart – what can he do to honour her, to bring her to mind? What will he hold onto that captures something of her presence?
This is also a common sight which you have probably seen in plenty of movies, or maybe even experienced yourself: he will take a photograph of her and he will keep it safe, treasure it and look at it often.
People as the image of God
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Gen 1:26-27
When God made man, his idea was to have something like the flag or the photograph. He wanted millions of people walking around in his image and likeness.
Like the flag, which represents everything about the country, people are designed to visibly represent the character and glory of God.
Like the photograph, which brings our loved one to mind, when you look at someone who is truly human your mind should be drawn to how amazing God is.
As we produce things, as we work, as we talk to other people, as we sing and dance, love and laugh and cry, we are meant to do all of this is all in a way that is like God. We should laugh at the things God laughs at, produce beautiful things the way God does, work hard and then rest just like God, speak with love and truth and patience just like God.
But we don’t. Instead, we cry at the wrong things and love selfishly. We don’t nurture and care for the things under our rule, we use them up for our own greedy pleasure. Instead of speaking truth, we speak lies.
That said, even fallen, sinful people are made in the image of God (Gen 5:1-2, Gen 9:6, 1 Cor 11:7).
But they do not image God accurately. In our thoughts and words and actions we lie about God’s character.
And when we treat others like dirt or pieces of meat to be used for our own gain, we trample on God’s image.
We burn God’s flag, we tear up his photograph.
The horror of abortion and euthanasia
This is why abortion and euthanasia are so wrong and should be vehemently opposed.
While those in favour of abortion and euthanasia like to cloak them in shadowy language (termination, assisted dying etc), abortion and euthanasia are in very simple terms murder. They are taking a ‘living creature’ (Gen 2:7) who is made in the image of God and killing it.
The horror of abortion and euthanasia is not that a creature is being killed. The horror of it is that a flag is being burned. A photograph is being stamped into the mud. The visceral reaction we have to someone defacing a photo of our family is something of what we should feel when we consider abortion and euthanasia.
These things are an offense to God. They are so horrible because they dishonour the image of the creator of heaven and earth. They treat something that God made to display his glory as meat to be chopped up and thrown in the bin.
The higher our view of God and the more we understand what it means to be made in his image, the more horror we will feel at abortion and euthanasia.
Sanctity of life doesn’t stop at abortion and euthanasia
As I’ve considered how murdering babies and old people is like tearing up a photograph, it struck me that we dishonour God by treading on his image in so many other ways – more respectable ways.
Maybe one way to change the culture of death in secular culture is to honour God’s image as displayed in humans around us in the small ways. These ways are much more difficult but God often works through the small everyday changes in order to affect large change.
So how else do we dishonour God’s image?
When you gossip about someone in order to highlight their faults to others in order to make them think poorly of them, you dishonour God’s image.
When you view pornography or lust after someone in your heart using their body for your own pleasure, you are using and abusing God’s image.
When you push in front of someone in a queue, putting yourself before them, you are stamping the image of God under your foot.
When you slander someone or call them names or joke about them in order to make them hurt, you are burning God’s image.
When you use someone at work as a mere instrument for you to succeed more and climb the corporate ladder, you are making God’s image the rungs you are climbing.
When you look on someone with disgust because they smell or are dirty or are different to you, you are looking on disgust at a dirty photograph of your Creator. If you had a dirty photograph of your wife, would you tread it underfoot or would you lovingly seek to tend to it and wash it clean?
So fight abortion and euthanasia. But, more importantly, when you next see a person, treat them like the image of God – because that it precisely what they are.