Are You an Image Bearer or Just a Wad of Cells?

We have been discussing worldview.
What you believe about how you got here, determines who you are. 
Who you are determines your worth.
If you believe God is the Creator and Source of truth, then you have meaning, because you are made in His image. That gives you inherent worth.

Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…. God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Genesis 1:26-27; 2:7

God included both male and female in the association of God’s image.
Because of this image, it is wrong to kill man.

Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made Man. Genesis 9:6.

Jesus, in his body, was the exact representation of God’s nature. Hebrew 1:3 (“If the image of God could be perfectly represented in man apart from the body, then the body would not be essential to resurrection.”)
The body of a Christian is the temple of the Holy Spirit. 

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God and that you are not your own. For you have been bought with a price: therefore, glorify God in your body. I Corinthians 6:19-20.

Your worth is determined by Whose you are.

But if you choose not to believe God created you, then you must believe this life is all there is and when you die, your body returns to dust. Even life is just that.
[That doesn't change your worth, but it does change how you view your worth.]
This article applies what you believe about your worth to medical research and burial.

My son was required to read Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach for his composition class. The book presented articles about what medical research did with cadavers. Doctors coerced family members to give consent for the patient’s body before it was “completely dead” to be used in research.
Often, doctors did not tell all.
Some cadavers were used as crash “dummies”—testing seat belts, wind-shields, and other “research” needs.
One article spoke of “respecting the body” as it was used as a crash “dummy.” (A paradox, if true.)
If consent was given by the deceased patient, but not the family, often the doctor took what was needed, without complete consent.
In some countries, it is now a normal procedure to take organs or tissues without consent, unless the victim actually said they did not allow it.

What should be done?
Should we demand better explanations before the family consents? Should an individual be allowed to consent for another life? Is that enough?
This seems to be the same problem addressed last week with Infanticide. The infant’s life was determined by the mother and doctor—who already consented to an abortion.
Demanding better informed consent is not the answer.

The problem is deeper. It lies with the worldview.
When man is just a wad of cells, anything can be done to it, living or non-living.
Francis Schaeffer wrote years ago that by accepting abortion, infanticide, genocide, killing the retarded, and any other “selected undesirables” will come.
Who determines the “undesirables"? 

Our schools are teaching this worldview as the only option.
Another term paper required evaluating using medical research gained unethically using slaves, prisoners, mentally retarded, and coerced soldiers.
My son was provided with articles encouraging the research’s use.
If he presented the "other side," he had to substantiate it with additional research.
The teacher warned him he would not find enough research to contradict that position and would therefore receive a bad grade.
When he found the required sources, his teacher gave him a 50%. (She justified her grade by his use of one “we” in the writing.)
[Apparently, someone’s worldview could not be challenged!]

Consider these other uses of research given by Francis Schaeffer in 1976:
Francis Crick received the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for breaking the DNA code. He reduced man to an electrochemical machine in which man can and should be manipulated and controlled. Crick stated, “Some group of people should decide that some people should have more children and some should have fewer….You have to decide who is to be born.” (p. 234). Who should that “You” be?
Crick is not alone in his quest to manipulate biologically. Many believe modern medicine keeps the weak alive to breed a less-than-best next generation (p. 235).

Kermit Krantz  urged in October, 1969 that the birth control pill be put into the world’s drinking supplies to control population. Perhaps the state should decide who should have babies. China does.

Consider artificial insemination using the husband’s sperm (A.I.H.) Doesn’t this help couples? But what about A.I.D. (sperm by a donor, another man)?
Under Britain laws, the child born is illegitimate. In the United States, judges in some divorce cases have ruled A.I.D. children are illegitimate products of adultery, denying custody rights to the husband or relieving him of financial-support obligation. 

Arthur Koestler proposed developing a chemical to bring tranquility to man—a super-tranquilizer. He suggests putting it in the drinking water, forcing all people unknowingly to accept it. 

Science hasn’t come far from those proposals. Now, every behavioral problem can be treated with a medicine. Have ADHD? Take this medicine. Angry? Take THIS. Feeling down? Do I have a drug for you!
We are no longer responsible to make Johnny sit in his chair at school. He can’t help it, if he’s just a wad of cells. (After all, he has no will, and certainly no responsibility.) 

Jose’ M. Delgado used sensors on monkeys and human epileptics to control their behavior. He wanted to expand his treatment for man’s aggressiveness.
Who determines who is aggressive?
In Communist lands, the government would say Christians are aggressive, for they do not submit to their “no god” policy.
In Rome, they again said Christians, for they rebelled against Caesar as their god.
Because Christians remind the world of the God they have rejected and tell of a standard by which all must conform, we will be hated and persecuted.

Consider how the worldview effects burial practices.
Arctic Native American tribes left their dead on frozen ground for wild animals to eat.
Among the Nez Perce, wives, slaves and a favorite horse were sacrificed for a dead warrior.
In Gimi, a New Guinea tribe, modern-day women eat the flesh of the deceased men. Perhaps by eating the body decomposing is prevented.
In other ancient societies, the dead were cremated, then the ashes eaten.

How does a Christian's worldview change how we treat the dead?
Christians are known throughout history for burying their dead. 
Burial anticipates its future—in the resurrection. It symbolizes hope of resurrection. 

So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. 1 Corinthians 15:42-44. 

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus…and the dead in Christ will rise first.1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

Christ’s death, burial and resurrection is the Gospel message. I Corinthians 15.
Just as baptism symbolizes death and resurrection, so does burial.
Whereas cremation pictures pantheism—salvation from the body by escaping the cycle of reincarnation. Cremation pictures death as the “end of everything.”

Burial preserves the sanctity of the body as image bearer of God. 

Burial or entombment allows respect and memory of the dead. Life is put into perspective. God will one day restore it. This promotes the doctrines of creation and redemption.

Acts 5:6, 10; 8:1-2
Early Christians looked with great disdain on cremation. Remember fire was used to kill their martyrs.

We do not fear cremation because God cannot raise that person up in the last times.
God is able and will in His time.

But we should not minimize burial’s symbolism. To reject the symbolism of burial is to say the thing it symbolizes is not important. Christ’s resurrection is crucial to our belief!
It is like burning a U.S. flag, which is our country’s symbol.  Burning our flag represents an attack to our country. Likewise, to burn the body is to attack the person whom God created in His image. Symbolically pronouncing death as final.
While cremation is not an intrinsic evil, it impairs the symbolism of burial.

That is not to say, there are no exceptions.
In the Old Testament, when a Jew could not keep the Feast of Passover because he was contaminated, he was commanded to keep it the following month. Likewise, when cremation is required because of bacterial or viral contamination, it should be done with respect and regret. The ashes are preserved.

Would this world view change whether we even allow medical research on cadavers? Absolutely! It's made me rethink a lot of things that I've considered "good."

Applications abound of how our Christian worldview goes against the world’s.

Being an Image bearer involves more than just telling the Gospel.
It involves looking at all life and death through the lens of God’s Word and conforming our life to His good pleasure.

How don't Christians fight these issues?
Do we fight social issues at the expense of the Gospel?
The United States helped “impose democratic governments” on other countries.
Isn’t that a good thing?
These countries were in chaos. Their citizens were “doing their own thing.” They did not know God.
But like we presented in the article Where Do You Find Meaning?their democracy didn’t work, no matter how much money U.S. poured into them. Why?
Their base was wrong.
We don’t represent a social gospel that gives the benefits of Christianity without acknowledging the God of the universe as its base. It will fail.

How do Christians fight these issues?
When Reagan ran for president, he did not address all the press’s issues.
Instead, he said, “This is what I believe….”
When a person is consistent with their beliefs, then anyone can predict what they will do, because they act within the framework of their beliefs.
When our framework is based on God and His Word, then people should know what we will do in all areas of life.  We have unity and meaning. We reflect God’s image.
We should also expect those who don’t know God to treat their own body, living or not, with disdain. After all, it is just a wad of cells.
The world is left without hope. Without meaning. Without worth. 
By living like there is no God, the world is left without meaning, worth and hope.
We have the answer. We give them hope.
We treat them differently than how they treat each other and themselves.
We love them.
They have worth. They are made in God’s image. 
By loving them, we show their worth. 
We also are changed to be like Christ. 
We reflect God.
God changes hearts.
When the heart is changed, their thinking will change.

Do we ignore the social and ethical issues?
Of course not.
But if we stop this law or repel that law, get consent for this patient, deny research for that issue, we merely put out side fires. The major forest is burning around us. 
But we also realize one man or woman in obedience to God is enough to do what God commands them to do.

We must attack the world’s framework, not just their applications. It is against God. 

Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28.

When we fear God, we show the world His image by confirming our entire lives to His will. And He is pleased.

I write about what you---
women, wives and moms---
about your family, faith and future.
I write about what's hard, what helps and what heals.
I show you how it's done. And not done.
I hold your hand as you find what matters to the Savior.
And let go of those things that mattered to you, but not to Him.
I write about what Him.
               Sonya Contreras

Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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More faith articles are found here:
under the Table of Contents. Also available in book form.
Or here:
under the Table of Contents. Also available in book form.
Articles on Suffering can be found  here, 
under Table of Contents. Also available in book form.
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