What We Believe — the sanctity of life
By REV. WILLIAM NOVACK
St. Paul Lutheran Church
Continuing our series on “What We Believe” and the Commandments of God, we come to the fifth Commandment — “Thou shall not kill” or “You shall not murder.” Young students of Christian doctrine typically think this a command they have never broken, but closer investigation reveals we have easily broken this and all 10 Commandments.
More than the unlawful taking of a life, known as murder, God’s command extends to our very treatment of those around us, that we should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor, but support him in every physical need. If we could, without sin, keep this Command purely as God intends, no one would be without basic needs, no one would go hungry, no prejudice or bigotry would exist.
While all the commands of God are constant and unchanging, this command has been politically polarizing, a much debated issue in regard to other forms of the ending of life, such as euthanasia, suicide or abortion. Our church could speak for weeks to cover all that we believe according to God’s Word, and all the examples that could be given, yet we will remain basic in applying God’s Word here.
“Sanctity of life” is the term applied to what we believe. To sanctify is to set apart and consider holy, precious and worthy, to make sacred, granted the respect of all holy things. Life given by God is His, and deserves to be treated as such, even if that life is tainted by sin, as we all are. For man alone, above all other life is made in God’s image, and we are the hallmark of His creation. God’s Word says, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.” Genesis 9:6.
Basic rights in life, as given to all citizens, contrary to what human political views would espouse, begins at conception. God answers the question as to when life and its sanctity begins. Again, God’s Word says, “Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16. Also, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” Jeremiah 1:5. We are to respect life from God’s beginning, and not take it, but nurture it as His most precious gift.
God created life and gave it value, and since it was His to give, He alone has authority over it. God also said that the wages of sin is death, an eternal separation from God’s blessing. A problem? A contradiction? A paradox? Despite our sins against God, the breaking of His commands, God considered us redeemable through Jesus’ substitutionary death for us, to both satisfy God’s Law and grant us new and forgiven life in Him. God found us worthy of the life of His only Son! This demonstrates the value God places on us, despite our flaws and sins against Him. We believe we should all respect the life God gives, even life that sins against us, to not kill or break down, but lift up and support in every way. This is what we believe.
If you would like further dialog on what we believe, visit one of our churches or correspond with us. Our church email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Sincere comments and questions please. Our churches are: St. Paul Lutheran church in Fredonia (672-6731), Immanuel Lutheran Church in Gowanda (532-4342) and Trinity Lutheran Church in Silver Creek (934-2002).