Our Church’s Statement on the Sanctity of Human Life

For decades, the pastors and elders of Cornerstone Community Church in Mayfield Heights, Ohio have sought to faithfully teach the Scriptures. As a result, our church has been involved in upholding the sanctity of every human life, both in teaching and in practice through various ministries of education and compassion. This past February, the elders crafted and adopted the following statement that may prove to be helpful to you and your church as well.

We believe that God created mankind[1] as male and female in His own image and likeness to be reflections of His own holy nature, person, and character, and to act as His representatives (vice-rulers) in the earth. When we speak of the sanctity of human life, we mean that human beings have been set apart (sanctified) by God to be His image-bearers on the earth, and that they are charged with the holy (sacred) tasks of bearing fruit and multiplying (families), subduing the earth (dominion), and filling the earth with the knowledge (truth) of the glory of God (Gen. 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Psa. 8:3-6; Isa. 11:9; Hab. 2:14).

We believe that this image of God in man (Imago Dei) permeates man’s whole being. In his inner self (heart/spirit/soul/mind), man is a rational, reasoning, and personal being with the capacity to know right from wrong and the freedom to obey or disobey. In his outer self (body), man is able to give expression to these inner thoughts, desires, and feelings, and to externally act upon them with both words (communication) and deeds. Along with these unique, God-revealing qualities, man is capable of communing with God himself, and is therefore distinct from and superior to the rest of God’s creation (Gen. 2:7; 1 Sam. 16:7; 2 Cor. 4:16-18; 5:12).

We believe that as a result of sin, the image of God in man was corrupted and distorted, displayed in man’s wrong thinking, wrong motives/desires, and wrong actions. Even though sinful man has lost his original righteousness and holiness before God, he retains his God[1]given value, dignity, and calling as an image-bearer of God. He remains responsible before God for all his decisions, and answerable for all his actions. As such, God will call him to account for the flawed picture of God that he in his sinfulness is presenting to the world. Through Christ alone can man be restored and renewed to the true image of the One who created him (Gen. 3:1-24; 6:11-12; Rom. 14:10-12; 8:29; Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:10).

We believe that the Scriptures clearly teach that human life begins at conception. God is the giver of life and exercises sovereign control over it by opening and closing wombs, infusing newly formed embryos with unique human spirits, superintending the development of these unborn children (fetuses) throughout pregnancy, and sustaining them over the course of their lives from conception until death. Children are gifts from the Lord, and all the days of their existence are ordained by the Lord. We acknowledge God’s sovereignty over life and death by seeking to preserve and extend life within the parameters of biblical medical ethics, while humbly accepting death when it becomes imminent due to irreversible defect, incurable disease, old age, or fatal injury. Death, in biblical terms, is the separation of man’s spirit from his body (Gen. 30:22; 1 Sam. 1:5-6, 19-20; Deut. 32:39; Job 33:4; Psa. 127:3; 139:13-16; 104:29-30; Luke 1:15b, 41; Matt. 27:50).

We believe that man’s unlawful and premeditated killing of a human being is a violation of the sixth commandment, which says, “You shall not murder.” The biblical prohibitions of murder (commandments, case laws) forbid the taking of all innocent (non-criminal) human life. These prohibitions also include: abortion (unborn human babies); infanticide (human infants after birth); euthanasia (mercy-killing); assisted suicide (helping another to take his life); suicide (taking one’s own life); hastening a death to acquire organs (organ harvesting); those forms of birth control and reproductive technologies which involve the destruction of embryos; and any research or experimentation procedure which results in the death of embryos, fetuses, or newborn children (Exo. 20:13; Deut. 5:17; Exo. 21:22-25; Lev. 24:17).

We believe that our nation is deserving of God’s judgment for its continued denial of the sanctity of human life and the shedding of innocent blood in our land. God is not mocked. Whatever a nation sows, it will also reap. Clearly, all parts of our society (family, church, institutions, and state) are now complicit in this evil policy by sins of commission (supporting, promoting, performing, legislating, or choosing abortion) and by sins of omission (doing nothing in the face of this unrelenting evil). The Bible believing church must stand in the gap and call ourselves and then our nation back to God in humble repentance and a renewed biblical faith. The compassionate, pro-life response of this church will include ministry to women with unwanted pregnancies, receiving and accepting those with disabilities, foster care and adoption, and caring for the sick, the suffering, and the dying (Num. 35:33; Jas. 4:17; Psa. 106:23; Ezek. 22:30; 2 Chron. 7:14-15; 1 John 3:14-20).

We believe that since one of the main God-ordained functions of civil government is the protection of innocent human life, those laws and judicial decrees which undermine and remove these protections for the innocent are a travesty of justice and should be opposed. The moral laws revealed in God’s Word provide to mankind an absolute standard and pattern for the laws of our civil government. As part of our holy calling to fill the earth with the knowledge of the glory of God, we must work to elect leaders and to enact legislation that bring the civil laws of our society into alignment with the priorities of God’s law as it concerns protection for the most innocent and defenseless of our society: the unborn, the infirm, and the elderly. These protections for the innocent also include the right of a society to defend itself against aggressors through self-defense or waging just wars (Psa. 10, 94; Gen. 9:5-6; Exo. 21:12-14; Heb. 2:2; Hab.2:14; Rom. 13:1-7).

In presenting these truths of Scripture regarding the sanctity of human life, we recognize that there are some among us whose lives have been personally affected by abortion, either by experiencing it themselves or by encouraging and promoting it to others. A clear understanding of the teaching of God’s Word will often result in deep conviction of sin and a heavy burden of guilt for those who have participated in abortion in any way. Even so, our gracious and merciful God offers redemption and restoration to all who confess and forsake their sin, and who seek His mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ. When dealing with these profound issues of life, we are committed to treating each person with gospel-centered love, compassion, kindness, respect, and dignity (1 John 1:9; Gal. 6:1; Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:12-17).

In order to preserve the function and integrity of the church as the local Body of Christ, and to provide a biblical role model to the church members and surrounding community, it is imperative that all persons employed by the church in any capacity, and all who serve as teachers, elders, deacons, and ministry leaders should agree to and affirm this Summary Statement on the Sanctity of Human Life, and conduct themselves accordingly (Psa. 139:23- 24; 1 Tim. 1:8-11; 3:15; Titus 1:9; Jas. 3:1).

*Cornerstone Community Church is located in Mayfield Heights, Ohio, an eastern suburb of Cleveland. You may find more information on our church website: www.cornerstonemayfield.org

[1] For ease of reading this document, the terms “man” or “mankind” are used inclusively of both male and female, and interchangeably with the designations “human beings, human life, humankind, human race, etc.”

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