Life: Who Decides?

January 21, 2014

by David Garner

In no uncertain terms, the Ten Commandments call us to love what God loves and to hate what he hates. To be the redeemed people of God is to be placed mercifully in covenant privilege and covenant obligation. Our hearts must be conformed to the law of the Lord and renewed by it (Rom 12:1-2). As Psalm 1 reminds us, the godly meditate on the law of the Lord day and night. Such rumination is not merely for our enjoyment, but for the molding of our minds and the conforming of our wills – that we would love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and might (Deut 6:5).

The God of the covenant and the law is the God of life. He created life. He breathed life into Adam’s nostrils (Gen 2:7). He authored the magnificent living and teeming diversity of creation (Gen 1:20-25). God spoke and produced life. His creating Word is life-giving. His redeeming Word is life giving.

Jesus is the Word of life (1 John 1:1), the resurrection and the life (John 11:25).  He is the Life-giving Spirit (1 Cor 15:45). From creation to redemption unto consummation, God shows himself as Author, Sustainer, and Restorer of life.

Such revelation of God’s priority upon life establishes the scope of the sixth commandment, which implicitly calls the people of God to preserve life. To know and love God is to esteem and love life, which God has made.

In fact, as John Murray candidly put it, “Nothing shows the moral bankruptcy of a people or a generation more than disregard for the sanctity of human life.” (Principles of Conduct, 122) January 22, 2014 sadly marks the forty-first anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. This landmark verdict was as much an authority statement as it was a cultural one. It was a shout from U.S. rooftops that decisions about the unborn now have different ownership. Life belongs to Americans and no longer to God. We now decide about the value of life and its propagation. Understood correctly, abortion is not primarily a judgment about when life begins, but about who decides.

Though the way in which Christians ought to address abortion in our secular culture is a complex question, the fact that Christians must think about life and death differently than an unbeliever is non-negotiable. God has spoken. He is the absolute and final Authority concerning life’s value and life’s preservation. Abortion is not an option, because God is God. Our call to preserve the life of the unborn is not just because the unborn is a real child, but rather because we are really children of the living God.

Nothing shows the moral delight of God’s people with God’s law than a high regard for the sanctity of human life. Why? Because God’s people love what God loves and hate what he hates. God’s people love life because they love its Author, Sustainer, and Restorer.

David Garner

Dr. Garner (PhD, Westminster) is associate professor of systematic theology and vice president for advancement at WTS.

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