I was listening to NPR this morning on the way to the train and there was a long piece about the Syrian government possibly using Sarin gas on its opposition and there being video of it. The other day, in this country, “an Australian baseball player out for a jog in an Oklahoma neighborhood was fatally shot by three teenagers who decided to kill someone because they were bored, police said. 22-year-old Christopher Lane was visiting his girlfriend in the town of Duncan when he was gunned down at random”.
I am beyond the shock and horror. I am beyond the natural response of “What the …. ?!!!” I am tired of atrocities. (Now there’s a phrase I never thought I’d use about everyday life: “I am tired of atrocities”. ) I am beyond the politics of gun control or non-gun control. I am sick of intellectually pushing a rock uphill against violence and hatred and mean-spirited words masquerading as discussion. I am done with people taking up guns against innocent children, having judgements against the poor and defenseless, governments killing their own people, and people shooting children because they “look suspicious”. I want to change the discussion. I want to change the reference point. I want people to start from a different place. I want to bring religion to the people, religion to the world. And while I personally am a Christian, I don’t care which religion of at least three that I know of you choose. The starting place for Christianity, Islam, and Judaism is the same —
From the book of Genesis, Chapter 1 — the first chapter of the first book of scripture — 26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; …. 27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them” (Chapter 1, verses 26a, 27, and 28a)”.
Biblical scholars and rationalists who want to argue about who “Our” is, Creationists who want to score political points, scientists who say that dinosaurs came before humans, secularists who speak of this as “myth” they don’t believe in, aggressive atheists who think that religion makes the world a worse place, all miss the point.
I have wonderful friends from all the categories above, but I don’t understand how they make moral decisions. I don’t understand what their starting point is. The point of this scripture, from the point of view of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity is this: All human beings are created in the image of God. They are created by God. Their lives are sacred and holy. They are important to God and they should be to us.
You and I are not allowed to take one of their lives. Period. You and I are not supposed to injure or harm one of those human lives because God considers that life important. You and I are suppose to nurture and value that life because God, who is smarter than we are, does.
God doesn’t mean by this “male lives only” or “female lives more”. God doesn’t say, “Value pink skin more” or “the more pigment on the skin, the less value there is to the person”. God does not indicate that vaginas are bad and people with them are unimportant. God does not say that people who are unable to care for themselves — for any reason — are not valuable. God does not say that “this group of people” or “that group of people”, with a disability or without, isn’t allowed to have an opinion.
What God says, in these texts (and we should all believe, it seems to me) is that human life, whether we understand it, whether we can conceive of it, whether we are cynical about it or not, is created by a loving God and is to be treated as such. If the question is, “Are you worthy of my time and effort?”, the answer has to be, “Yes”. If the question is, “Am I worthy of your time and effort?”, the answer is supposed to be,”Yes”. Am I responsible for your welfare? Yes. Am I allowed to cut you, maim you, shoot you, kill you, torture you, rape you, gas you, or abuse you in any way? No. It is as simple as that.
All human beings should be free to live, free to thrive, allowed their voice, and frankly seen as holy, because that is the nature of the God who created them. This is irrespective of location, political affiliation, government in power, economic system, mental status of the person in power, philosophical slant, intellectual ideology, property rights or anything else.
If your ethic or life-view doesn’t believe that, I don’t want to hear it, and neither does God.