What Is The Value of a Human Life?

America finds itself in a moment where, culturally and historically, we are having conversations about the value of human life that have serious and long reaching consequences.  I spent several hours recently following the reactions to the recent events in Ferguson, MO and New York City and I was drawn to a hashtag being used on social media.  It simply said #BlackLivesMatter - and the comments that it generated ranged from impassioned to angry to hopeful.  Soon after, another hashtag appeared that generated even more conversation - #AllLivesMatter

As I was reading and praying for our nation at this critical moment, thinking that truly, all lives should matter, I reflected back on my own life.  I just turned 42 years old.  I was born in 1972 to a 15 year old girl.  She had no husband or boyfriend, no job or family support, and no real hope of caring for me.  But she valued human life, so she made a decision to give me away to a family that would also value my life.  I was adopted by a humble, hard-working couple who couldn't have children naturally, one year before abortion was legalized in America.  I count my life as a miracle because it would have been more convenient for her to have ended my life and gotten on with hers.  But she chose a harder, better path.

Since the year after I was born, around 50 million human lives have been ended through abortion.  In the media, you will seldom (if ever) hear the argument made from the perspective of the "child's right to live."  It is always framed from the perspective of the "woman's right to choose."  Yet no one denies that every abortion stops a beating human heart.  This is personal for me; I was a statistic waiting to happen.  The numbers say I should have never made it out of the womb alive.  But because one young woman valued life, I am alive today.

So the question becomes apparent: Can we really value human life and dignity in a nation that allows, and in many cases financially subsidizes, the taking of nearly 50 million lives?  Not just any life, but the most helpless, innocent and vulnerable lives; unborn babies inside the mother's womb.  The unspoken subtext to the past 40 years in American history is that when an unwanted, inconvenient human life appears in the womb, there are two choices; give life to the baby or take the baby's life.  Is it any wonder that a generation later, after one seventh of America's population never had a chance to live, we can't seem to figure out the value of a human life?  If the subconscious message is, "A human life can be ended if that life is unplanned or inconvenient" then we will inherit a diminishing value of all lives, because at some point every life becomes inconvenient; people get old, they get sick, they become terminally ill.  If we sow the wind, we will reap the whirlwind.

Followers of Christ can infuse hope into a confused culture.  We can, and must ,lead the way through adoption, compassion, and serving those with tangible needs.  We believe that every human is an image-bearer of God with intrinsic value.  So we fight for justice, we work for racial reconciliation, we stand with victims, we adopt children, we pray for peace...and we esteem human life regardless of what color and shape it may take or how much it may inconvenience us.  This is our calling.  This is our message.  This is the gospel.