In the recent discussion about abortion at author and friend Mike Duran’s site, the pro-abortion commenter asked more than once when a baby (he said fetus or one of his other preferred scientific terms) was a person.
To me that was an obvious—we’d established, and all agreed, that life begins with conception. However, in his mind, that just-conceived life was not yet human, not yet a person.
Another commenter, a pro-life advocate in Canada, highlighted the question of personhood as central to the discussion:
the more pressing question and one perhaps that we could have engaged him on more fruitfully was , “But when should they be assigned a right to life, and why?”
In other words, for what reasons do we assign “personhood”, with all of its attendant rights, on a human being?
I’m a little stunned. I should think when they’re alive would be a good enough answer to the question, “When should they be assigned a right to life.”
But ultimately this discussion comes back to belief in God. Man cannot create life. Yes, I know, that’s somewhat under review, what with the advancement of cloning. But in reality, unless there is life to begin with, there is no cloned life, so Man still can not create life.
God creates life, and even if Man someday figures a way to produce life apart from “natural causes,” that doesn’t change the fact that God is supreme, and still the giver of life. I don’t look at this issue as any different than a person taking antibiotics as a way to recover from an infection. Man did not heal him. God still healed, but He used the medicine.
But let’s say we agree that a person gains personhood at conception—that a life is considered a person when he first becomes alive—what about the life of an animal? Shouldn’t a dog’s life be preserved and protected the same way as an unborn baby’s life? In fact, if life determines personhood, is my dog a person?
No, the issue isn’t simply the preservation of life, any life, in any form. Setting aside the fact that plants are also alive, I’m addressing the Hindu idea that animal life is sacred, an idea that is gaining traction in the US and perhaps in other places in western society.
Of course evolutionists who ascribe to the common descent theory—in which all life descended from a common source—don’t see human life as unique. For them there is no reason to protect an unborn child over against a titmouse. Both are alive but society has not recognized either as persons. In other words, society gets to decide who is a person and who isn’t.
Except, society does recognize the unborn as a person when the mother wants to give the child birth. The irrationality, then, is with society. Why would a woman wanting a child or not wanting a child change his personhood?
In essence this view says slave owners were right—if they didn’t recognize the personhood of a slave, then he wasn’t a person.
Today we think that view is hateful. And it is.
Why, then, would society choose another class of people and determine they are not persons?
The frightening thing is that this rationale carried to its logical extreme means other groups of people can be stripped of personhood—homeless people or those with Down Syndrome or the schizophrenic or those with Alzheimer’s. If society gets to say who’s a person, why should we think there will not one day be a determination that an undesirable group is stripped of personhood.
At the same time, since human life is viewed as no different from animals, why not elevate our pets to the place of personhood. We already call them our children, and more and more owners are putting clothes on their dogs. It’s a natural leap for us to give them the “right to life.”
We Christians need to understand this issue. More than the lives of the unborn are at stake, and that’s saying a lot since so many babies lose their lives to abortion.
The real issue is the evolution-creation divide that so many Christians seem to be wearied with, and since children are, by mandate, taught evolution in school, in one generation our country will no longer think human life is separate and distinct from animals.
Unless we teach our children otherwise. Purposefully. Clearly.
Creation isn’t just about genesis. It’s about God breathing life into Man, giving us a spirit which He did not give to any of the animals. Why do you suppose no suitable helpmate was found for Adam? It wasn’t because of sexual comparability. It was at the level of personhood. No animal was created in God’s image, after His likeness.
Man is more than what the animals are. We have capacities animals don’t have. We can reason, we can sin, we can worship, we can forgive, we can judge, we can aspire. These are not things we’ve learned or gained because of superior intellect. These are part of our personhood, part of our moral fiber, our spiritual makeup. They are part of human life.
Consequently, all human life should be valued. The taking of life should not be something done for convenience or comfort. Today, a woman can kill her unborn baby because it’s inconvenient for her to be pregnant at this point in her life. Tomorrow will she be able to kill her aging parent because it’s inconvenient for her to be a caregiver at this point in her life?
And will our dogs be given more rights than our unborn children?
Maybe we’ll simply stop giving birth since we have these dog children who don’t have all those irritating tendencies to think for themselves as human children do. Maybe we’ll simply let the culture go completely to the dogs.