Animals or Image Bearers?

And God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.’ And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 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. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth’ (Genesis 1:24-28).

Most Bible scholars and theologians do not equate the image of God with any one human attribute. To be sure, the image of God is evident in that humans are intelligent, rational beings, capable of complex thought and self-awareness, and of amazing ingenuity. We are also highly emotional creatures, at our best capable of great love, compassion, altruism, sympathy, and even empathy. Moreover, we are moral agents; again, at our best we know that right and wrong are realities, and that beauty is more desirable than ugliness. We are also the world’s only ‘language animals,’ able to communicate with each other with stunning precision and depth, but more importantly, able to understand and respond to God’s address (thus humans are ‘response-able’ creatures). All these attributes should be taken into consideration when pondering what it means that humans bear the image of God.

As this text from Genesis makes clear, however, the chief byproducts of being made in God’s image are dignity and dominion. That is to say, as God’s representatives, or vice-regents on earth, we are to exhibit responsible stewardship over his creation, cultivating and consuming the garden that is the world—including the animals within it—with a dignity that befits our exalted creaturely status, that reflects our Creator’s character, and that enhances his glory.

But as the biblical account of our origin fades from the collective memory, or at least from the collective worldview of Western civilization—having been replaced either explicitly or implicitly in the minds of many by Darwinian evolutionary theory—that civilization becomes increasingly
less civilized. That is because evolutionary theory denies both the human status of being responsible subjects under God, as well as the human status of being dignified stewards over animals. For the Bible acknowledges a ‘solidarity of the sixth day’ between humans and animals, whereas  evolutionary theory effectively removes any such distinction, equating rather than relating humans and animals. Is it any wonder, then, that the history of the twentieth-century Western world betrays the two-fold phenomenon of exalting animals and degrading humans? Can you not see such a process at work by considering radical animal-rights activists such as PETA, oppressive political systems such as those under Hitler, Stalin, and Mao, and popular agendas in American culture such as the sexual revolution, abortion on demand, and euthanasia?

My friends, the biblical worldview elevates humanity by affirming human responsibility, human dignity, and most of all, human life itself! Sadly, if you’ll look seriously and honestly at the recent history and present predicament of the Western world, I think you’ll find that alternatives to the biblical worldview have served to dehumanize humanity, and render civilization less civilized.

For more help on this subject see: Being Christian

A Person’s a Person

Excerpted from the book The God of Second Chances by Steve Arterburn.

In college I dated a woman for whom I really cared. She was a Christian—bright, gentle, beautiful, and energetic. I believed we had a lot in common. Because we loved each other, I had an easy time convincing her to sleep with me. I justified my sin—and hers—by believing that loved covered everything. Yet, I discovered it was less love for her and more love for myself that lead me to seek sexual gratification. How shameful that I didn’t see what I was doing until it was too late. She missed one period, and then another. She was pregnant.

Although I loved my girlfriend, I selfishly did not want to shatter my musical career. Never once did I consider any options. Never once did I drop down on my knees and seek God’s forgiveness and ask Him to show me a responsible way out of the problem. She had to have an abortion.

I was deeply immersed in the philosophy of the world. If something is inconvenient–say, a broken radio, a bad marriage, or a baby—just get rid of it. So there we were, my girlfriend and I and the baby growing in her womb. I carefully laid out my plan with all the details already put together: go here at such and such a time, they will do such and such to you, and then it will be over. We can go on with our lives. I’ll even pay half the cost of the procedure.

My heartless and unbending pragmatism overwhelmed her. I never really gave her an opportunity to respond. No unwanted baby was going to stand in the way of my career. So she went because I convinced her it was the best way out of a bad situation and because she thought I loved her.

The guilt, shame, and remorse had emotional, physical, and spiritual consequences that had such a devastating effect on me that I almost lost my life. I fell into a deep depression, went on antidepressants, and began to feel as old as a grandfather. Within six months of convincing my girlfriend to have an abortion, I was diagnosed with eighty-three ulcers. My doctor told me that I would have to make some serious life-style changes or have my intestines or my colon removed. Within a year I had dropped out of my music major and abandoned my dream. At the time I had no idea what was causing me such misery.

Fortunately I came to an end of myself. In my depression I was able to acknowledge that I had made a complete mess of my life and that I needed God’s forgiveness and strength. I turned back to the narrow path. I found God’s surprising grace there. We all have wounds that never seem to heal—from childhood, from our sinful behavior, from living in the world. But the answer is not to pretend that they don’t exist or believe the world’s lies that we can alleviate them with self-gratifying pleasures.

We must face our wounds honestly, repent before God, and let Him surprise us with His amazing and healing grace. It is only then that we can begin to experience what God has intended and desired for us all along.

If you have taken part in an abortion and have never healed from this pain, you are probably today living with frustration, sadness, or pain in your relationships. I hope you will find encouragement from someone like you:

After attending our New Life Weekend, Maryann wrote: This weekend has blessed me by helping me to explore some  painful hurts and feelings that have surfaced about post abortion that I never talked about. I discovered the anger and unforgiveness in me. I leave here surrendering this to God so I can live under his power now, and find a self worth to be free, to be me. Steve, you and your radio staff have been in my life for 12 years. You have given me laughter, tears, and hope. You gave me a message one day when I was listening. If anyone had ever had an abortion and doesn’t think that’s their ‘it’ it is. I’d like to thank  you for that, thank God for giving me ears to hear that, and thank the person who have the scholarship who thought I was worth it.

If you’ve had an abortion, that’s what I call your ‘it.’ And until you find healing, ‘it’ will keep you from the forgiveness and joy your heavenly Father wants you to receive. Join us at our next New Life Weekend. We’d be honored to help.

Freedom for Life

I absolutely love it when I understand a Biblical concept! I know that sounds a little strange, not like the usual, ‘I love pizza’ or ‘I love that dress,’ but it is true! Too many times I have heard people say they, ‘don’t get that religious stuff’ or ‘Bible study is boring.’ If they only knew the freedom that comes from understanding God’s Word!

I have taught Bible study for over 10 years and throughout that time women have come to me and said that God’s word is just what they needed in their life and they would be lost without it. That is music to my ears and I am sure it is music to God’s as well! He gave us His word to help us. It is ‘living and active. Sharper than any double edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart’ (Hebrews 4:12).

So many of us turn to what the world offers for our life through magazines or books that may not be all bad, however, the Word offers us truth and hope in all areas of our life.

One of my favorite Bible studies is from Beth Moore called, ‘Breaking Free: Making Liberty in Life a Reality in Life.’ In the study Beth talks about the benefits of your relationship with God. They are

1. To know God and believe Him

2. To glorify God

3. To find satisfaction in God.

4. To experience God’s peace.

5. To enjoy God’s presence.

She goes on to say, ‘One of the most important truths I hope we’ve learned is that any benefit missing in our individual lives for any length of time is an indicator of a stronghold, an area of defeat. We are never more beautiful portrayals of mortals who know and believe God than when others can look at our lives, hear our testimonies, and say, ‘It is true.’ Beloved, that’s what it means to be living proof! If you bask in knowing God and dare to believe Him, someone close by has seen truth through your witness whether or not you are aware of the effectiveness of your testimony’.

‘Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is FREEDOM!” (2 Cor. 3:17)

What a life! Wouldn’t it be great if you could experience that freedom? To not be enslaved to the chains of this earth? Take a step towards freedom today. If you don’t know Christ as your personal Savior, choose to today! It is a great way to live and you will be an example of the hope that God offers!

Need some help finding the freedom offered through God’s word? Join us at our next New Life Weekend.

Tour Israel with Steve Arterburn and New Life Ministries