Written On The Heart

At the end of World War II in 1945, judges were appointed from the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and France to form an international court of judges to bring to trial Nazi leaders accused of committing war crimes, crimes against world peace, and crimes against humanity. The evidence that was presented was in the form of films and photographs of the victims of the atrocities.
The United States government under President Harry S. Truman appointed Assistant Justice Robert H. Jackson to function as Chief Prosecutor at the trails held in Nuremberg. Justice Jackson also participated in establishing an International Military Tribunal to try the individuals accused of these crimes. The 24 Nazi leaders were indicted on October 18, 1945.
In defending themselves, the officers insisted that whatever they did was in obedience to the commands and laws of their government. Their defense was founded on the model of positive law, which posits that the only binding laws for humanity are the laws that are enacted by human governments; laws that reflect and address the needs of the citizenry. Positive law is different from the Moral Law of God which is universal and transcends laws of human governments. According to positive law, some actions may be deemed legal although they might be perceived to be morally wrong. The German defendants insisted that they had done no wrong since they were merely obeying laws that resonated with their constitution or political ideological manifesto, Mein Kampf, at the time. What they did, they said, was for the good of the German people, according to their law then. As such, they had acted in a legal manner. Of course, their laws were a reflection of Darwin’s theory of macroevolution and survival of the fittest, which advocates that individuals whose phenotype adapts most to the environment are the ones more likely to survive the rigors of nature. According to positive law, a sovereign nation does not have to answer to other countries’ legal standards.
Without appealing to a standard of justice that is outside of our world, Justice Jackson and his associates seemed to have no case against the German officers; as far as positive law was concerned. But Jackson was wise enough to appeal “to objective and universal natural law with respect to personal moral accountability. This appeal not only linked morality to law but also placed morality prior to human legislation…Jackson was arguing for the existence of higher moral laws that transcend governments.” [1]
The International community was outraged by what had happened in Nazi Germany because it was morally wrong although the German government at the time thought it was legal under their constitution. As such, it was necessary for the tribunal to convict the individuals who had committed heinous acts against innocent human beings and punish them.
Similarly, people such as William Wilberforce and scores of others fought the scourge of slavery because it was morally repugnant although some governments had legalized it. Other moral violations such as ethnic cleansing have been met with international outrage wherever they have surfaced because they were morally reprehensible, even if they might have been legalized by functioning governments at the time.
Therefore, we can conclude that the Moral Law continues to be transcendent over positive law, and is still written on our hearts. That is why we object to unconscionable activities against other people, because we all have intrinsic value-we bear the Imago Dei.

[1] Norman Geisler & Peter Bocchino (2001). Unshakable Foundations: Contemporary Answers to Crucial Questions about the Christian Faith. Bethany House Publishers. Bloomington, Minnesota. pp. 222

Upholding the Sacredness of Human Life in an Increasingly Secularized World

Theists and Judeo-Christians believe in the inherent value and worth of human life because they believe human beings are made in the image of God. The sacredness or sanctity of life, therefore, is a derivative. It is a given. We owe it all to God. We are not self-existent. In order to safeguard the sanctity of life, a Moral Code was given to mankind by the Creator. As such, the loss of a human life is always a tragic and traumatic occurrence. Any form of violence against another human being violates that sanctity.
However, the publishing of Charles Darwin’s book titled, On the Origin of Species in November of 1859, brought with it a different teaching and perspective regarding human life. Darwin postulated that humans are only different from animals to a certain degree, but that they are really similar in kind, and that humans are merely evolutionarily advanced. The new teaching gained ground in academia, which is the training and preparatory ground for future politicians, legislators, physicians, educators and scientists-individuals who are entrusted with steering the course of their societies. The emphasis on Darwin’s theory was meant and is still meant to repudiate belief in a Creator and Law Giver. Miraculously though, in spite of the vociferous attacks against it, the sacredness of life has refused to be completely eradicated. It continues to tenaciously survive its ferocious attackers and has impressively withstood attempts to completely erase it from the human consciousness. As a matter of fact, the litmus test for the level of civilization of any society is largely dependent upon its response to flagrant violations of its human lives. But flagrant violations are not the only way that the sacredness of life can be betrayed. It can also be betrayed by the way we think and speak about our enemies; those who are from low socioeconomic statuses, those who think differently from us, the strangers in our midst, the poor, the sinners, those struggling with certain addictions, and the unborn. Against the screams of our consciences, we tend to deliberately exclude them from our fellowship because we are too embarrassed to be seen “hanging out with them.” To scream about the rights of the unborn is a good and laudable, noble thing. But we must also examine our hearts and their posture toward certain population groups and individuals in our midst. When Jesus said love your neighbor as yourself, He did not single out neighbors who are easy to love. As a matter of fact, our level of spiritual growth can partly be measured by how we treat those obnoxious and insufferable people (the annoying bosses and workmates and in-laws) who always rub us the wrong way because we also could be those people to someone else. Those who insist that mankind carries the image of God have an obligation to treat and view all people from that vantage point. Within each human life, regardless of its depravity or strange-ness, glows a luster, no matter how dimly, emanating from the glory of the image of God. That’s why Jesus could cross over a stormy sea to go and restore, and reclaim a single life so terribly ravaged by demons. That’s how valuable life is to Him…and so it must be to those who claim to be his followers, in spite of Darwin’s claims to the contrary…..

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