Image Bearers at Planned Parenthood

from Aug 01, 2015 Category: Articles

Unborn babies bear God’s image. It is His sanctity that makes them holy, not their own. It is not their genetic background, their capacity to feel pain, their wide open futures, their potential capabilities that makes them imbued with dignity and value. It isn’t their relative moral innocence, but the image of God, graciously given to all, no matter the circumstances of their conception, no matter their viability, no matter the relative development of their organs.

All of which is true of all those connected to the grisly business of murdering the unborn. While the butchers and their attendants may snuff out the life of the image bearers, while they may sear their own consciences in doing so, they still bear His image. And it is incumbent for we who seek to speak prophetically into their wicked lives to remember that.

I recently read this piece that briefly explores the all too easy process by which we dehumanize others. I’ve been on both sides of the equation. I know the frustration of having people think so ill of me that every defense goes unheard, every word of repentance is received as a diabolical plot on my part. I’ve reached the point with too many people of concluding, “There is nothing possible for me to do to redeem this relationship. They hate me to the point of not hearing me.” As disheartening as that is, the truth is there are others I can’t hear because I have dehumanized them.

My argument here isn’t that we ought to give credence to the arguments of those who kill babies for profit, to take seriously their murderous rationalizations. Neither am I suddenly adopting a strategy of using soft language that dulls the reality of abortion. I’m simply hoping to remember that the very reason it is so vile is because it dehumanizes babies, denies the imago dei. And I can’t fight faithfully against that while doing the same, denying the imago dei, to those I am fighting.

The devil delights when we diminish the horror of abortion, when we turn it into a mere political issue. He delights when we embrace the socially acceptable moral outrage against Kermit Gosnell or the selling of baby parts. But even when we rightly recognize abortion for just what it is, the cold-blooded murder of our own children, he is there beside us, armed with his favorite weapon, pride. When we dehumanize these dehumanizers we not only fall on the sword of our own hypocrisy, but embrace a Pelagian pride: “I thank you Lord that I am not like other non-humans. I believe babies are humans, lobby to defund Planned Parenthood and give to my local crisis pregnancy center.”

Abortion is decidedly inhumane. It is, however, decidedly human. The babies bear God’s image. The mothers, husbands, boyfriends bear God’s image. The assassins bear God’s image. But we are all also the kind of beings that murder babies, all of us. And our only hope is Jesus, the one who is the express image of the Father. All image killers are image bearers. And all image bearers are image killers. May God have mercy.

R.C. Sproul Jr. is rector and chair of philosophy and theology at Reformation Bible College. Originally published at