WHEN IS A HUMAN A PERSON?

by David Campbell

 

It seems in our day and time this has become a great debate that is dividing the country.  Yet, the Bible has shown us what God thinks about it.  The dilemma within society is the choice to follow God as He speaks through His divine word, or to follow man as he speaks through his supposed wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:14-16).

Some definitions are needed in order to understand the debate.  The philosophers and ethicists define human life in terms of consciousness.  In order to be considered a person, a human must have sufficient cognitive capacities to understand their existence.  An individual without such consciousness is awarded the title “nonperson.”  This is sometimes referred to as the “personhood theory.”

A survey of Scriptures shows that personhood begins quite early.  Jesus Christ was determined to be a person before the beginning of time (Genesis 1:26; 3:15; John 1:1-14; and Colossians 1:15-18).  Samuel was considered a person as soon as he was conceived (1 Samuel 1:20).  God knew Jeremiah when he was in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5).  John the Immerser was recognized in the womb, and he knew when he was in the presence of Christ while Christ was still in the womb (Luke 1:41-44).

This should settle the debate in the minds of Christians, but the worldly minded and rebellious do not accept God’s word and seek to destroy the very basis of Christianity’s foundation.

What does it matter?  We (humanity) stand at a crossroads.  If we choose the wrong path we may find ourselves falling down a slippery slope, from which we may find it very difficult to climb back up to the higher ground of Christian principles.  The world is turning to philosophy and bioethics for the answers to their future rather than to God.  Solomon admonished mankind to look to God (Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14).

What is bioethics?  Bioethics is a branch of philosophy that seeks to determine right from wrong in medical and biotechnological endeavors.  While the beliefs of bioethicists differ, the predominant view in the field is one which rejects the sanctity and equality of human life (from Smith, Consumers Guide to a Brave New World, Encounter Books, 2004, page 175).

These new “wise men” and women are placed on government, industry, academic and technology panels to make decisions that will guide the future of human life.  If God is shut out of these decisions then we face a dark future. Some of these bioethicists call themselves Christians while at the same time rejecting basic Christian teaching with regard to the sanctity of human life.