We are identifying the 7 principles of our Judeo-Christian heritage. The first principle is the dignity of human life. Most civilized people have an innate respect for human life, but where do we get our notions that killing another human being is wrong? The answer comes from the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount.
Exodus 20:13 (NKJV)
“You shall not murder.”
Matthew 5:21-22 (NKJV)
21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’
22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.”
The first principle is based on Exodus 20:13 – the sixth commandment, which states, “You shall not murder.” Jesus introduced the attitudinal aspect of this in the Sermon on the Mount when He said that people murder in their hearts when they harbor anger toward someone, when they demean someone by speaking negatively about them, and when they judge someone as worthless by calling them a belittling name.
In addition to the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, the whole of Scripture emphatically teaches the importance of the respect and preservation of human life.
The Declaration of Independence, signed on July 4, 1776, contains these words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
The Declaration of Independence identified the source of our unalienable rights as, “Their Creator,” confirming that individual human rights are God-given, not man-made. In other words, the signers of the Declaration of Independence embraced the biblical concept of creation.
In the Declaration of Independence, our Founding Fathers wrote that everyone has “unalienable rights,” and one of those rights is the right to “life.” If people and nations do not grant respect and protection to both the born and the unborn, all other professed morals and values are meaningless. The dignity of human life is not just a principle of the Bible – it’s the first principle of any civilized society.