Guest Viewpoint: Losing Sight of ‘the Likeness of God’

What do genocide, spousal abuse, abortion, and the killing of George Floyd — an African-American man — by a white police officer have in common? Let’s answer that question with another question that Jesus asked the religious leaders in His day when they tried to trap Him with a question of their own.

“And they questioned Him, saying, ‘Teacher, we know that You speak and teach correctly, and You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?’ But He detected their trickery and said to them, ‘Show Me a denarius. Whose head and inscription does it have?’ And they said, ‘Caesar’s.’ And He said to them, ‘Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s’” (Luke 20:21-25).

But the follow-up question that no one asked was obvious: “What do we owe to God?” The answer is itself intuitively obvious: We owe Him our entire lives, our complete allegiance. Why? It is because His image is stamped on everyone of us as surely as Caesar’s image was stamped on a denarius. We are created in the imagodei — the image of God — and because of this we each possess individual worth and dignity.

Our value is independent of our race, religion, intelligence, social status, or ability to contribute. Women and men have equal value. Blacks and whites, Asians and Hispanics have equal value. Unborn children and emperors have equal value. Downs children and doctors have equal value. They all bear the image of God, and, therefore, possess human value and dignity, deserving of respect and protection.

I do not imply that all men’s contributions will be the same. It is just that “we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.”

Once we depart from this sanctity of human life ethic, then all manner of human depravity can be justified in the human mind. Tyrants decide their ethnic group is superior to another ethnic group, so they begin to systematically exterminate the other group from their country. Outside onlookers are horrified because they understand the oppressed people group has individual rights bestowed on them by God, who made them in His image. These rights cannot be usurped by governments.

Husbands abuse their spouses and children, having lost sight of the image of God stamped on their wives and children and forgetting they are a gift from God. Abusers can justify all manner of ill treatment.

Pregnant mothers justify the killing of their pre-born children by abortion due to the difficult circumstances of their lives, not recognizing that each pre-born child bears the image of God and is thus endowed with inestimable worth and dignity.

This brings me to George Floyd. His alleged killer, like all other killers, did not recognize the image of God in Mr. Floyd. He arrogated more value to himself than to Floyd. He disrespected Floyd. It appears he had a long record of disrespecting others. I suspect he didn’t perceive their value conveyed by the image of God stamped upon their person.

Just like this police officer lost sight of the sanctity of human life, many have put their foot on the slippery slope of human depravity that has produced all manner of abuse, persecution, degradation of women, abortion, genocide, racism, and murder. This is what these issues have in common.

— Robert Jackson, a member of First Baptist Church, Boiling Springs, is a family practice doctor in Chesnee.