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Updated: Oct 25, 2023

Podcast Transcript | About Abortion with Dave Brennan

Image of God: human doings or human beings? Ft. Beth Davey | 2 Aug 2022 | Episode 8

Dave Brennan: Hello and welcome to this week's episode of About Abortion. Today I am joined by Beth Davey. Beth, welcome.

Beth Davey: Thank you for having me.

Dave Brennan: It's great to have you on. Thank you for joining me. This actually your second podcast today, isn't it?

Beth Davey: Yes it is. We just did a very brief one for the church earlier.

Dave Brennan: OK, fantastic. And so you are member of the church that I'm a member of, and in our church you wear a number of different hats, don't you?

Beth Davey: Yes.

Dave Brennan: Your grandmother, however, was a woman of many shoes, so I understand. And you think maybe 50 pairs?

Beth Davey: More or less. I know my sister inherited 11 pairs after she died. And we threw out a lot more.

Dave Brennan: I heard tell from your grandfather that she had a special tactic for giving the impression she wasn't buying so many new shoes. She used to buy a pair, put them in a cupboard for six months, and then only first wear them later that year. So that when he said, “Oh, are those new?”, she could truthfully say, “No, they're not. I've had them for a while”.

Beth Davey: I can believe that.

Dave Brennan: A cunning lady, a wonderful lady, now in glory. We miss her and are grateful for her life. But you are a woman of many hats and one of the hats you wear in our church is to teach the children in Sunday School for which my wife and I are very grateful. Our two little girls keep your hands, I'm sure, more than full in Sunday school. Another hat you wear is you come out as one of our educators in our public education team, CBRUK, Norwich, and perhaps another time we'll do an episode where we'll get a couple of you guys in to talk about your experience of that work, and how you're finding it. But if you were to just sum it up for us in three words, what would be your three words of your experience so far, being one of the educators in our CBR UK team?

Beth Davey: I would say, probably it's challenging, really challenging. Warfare. But also inspiring. That's three words.

Dave Brennan: Brilliant. Maybe that could be the title of our episode on hearing from the front lines. But that's not we're talking about today. Today we are talking about the image of God. And for those who've been following this podcast, they will have heard us talk about a general overview of the Bible.

We had Tim Lewis on a few weeks ago, talking about what the Bible has to say about abortion. You don't tend to get the word ‘abortion’ in our English translations of the Bible. And so some people would go so far as to say the Bible's got nothing to say about it.

Of course, that isn't true. For anyone who hasn't heard that, I just encourage you to go back and listen to that one. Now, during that podcast we did touch on the image of God, but I think it really merits a whole episode because it's such a foundational concept. The image of God. How important do you think it is to Christianity but also to the issue we're talking about, abortion?

Beth Davey: I think to humanity itself being made in the image of God, as you said, it is foundational and so we use it in church and it's a fuzzy woolly term. I don't think many people know actually what we mean when we say it, but we use it a lot. Particularly for this issue, I think being made in the image of God needs unpacking more because a lot of Christians use it for this sense saying we defend the unborn because they're made in the image of God. So what does that mean?

Dave Brennan: And that's what I'd love us to dive into today. So to get us started, what are the actual biblical references that speak directly of the image of God?

Beth Davey: There are only actually three references to humanity being made in the image of God.

The first one is in the very first chapter of Genesis. Genesis 1:27:

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

So I think the fact that it's in the very first chapter of the Bible shows how foundational it is. Then we skip forward to chapter five, where we see it again, Genesis 5:1 & 3:

1 When God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God.
3 When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness,

Beth Davey: And so you see that as children go on, they're still in that likeness. And finally, Genesis 9:6. This is God speaking to Noah.

6 Whoever sheds human blood by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind.

Dave Brennan: Brilliant. So those are the three direct references. Let's just spend a bit of time on each of those. So firstly, Genesis 1, God has made the animals, hasn't He? So He's made living things. And I'm not sure we can define exhaustively what the image of God is. There's some mystery wrapped up just in the way we can’t understand God in all his entirety, there is mystery, but there are certain things I think we can say. So the fact that only human beings are made the image of God, what does that tell us about humanity, as opposed to the animals, and the way God actually speaks of human beings as opposed to animals?

Beth Davey: I think it gives a foundation for the human rights of value and dignity that animals don't seem to have in the same way. Yes, all of creation is indeed important because God has made everything, but the fact that it's only humans who are made in his image, it seems to be that there's a unique relationship that they have between themselves and the Creator, that the rest of creation doesn't seem to have. But also then a unique task that they have being in the image of God that the rest of creation doesn't have.

Dave Brennan: And that follows on straight away, doesn't it? So having said, “Let us make man in our own image”, it then says, “God created man in his own image.” Male and female, crucially. And I don’t know how much time we're going to have to unpack that, but it's so key, isn't it? The male and female together were made in the image of God. Perhaps we can talk about that in a bit.

But then instantly the next thing we hear is, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it”. So there's what people might call the creation mandate.

Beth Davey: There seems to be some sort of functional role that's included in this image of God. For society today, we think of images being very visual, don't we? With Instagram and YouTube videos and everything, images seem to be visuals, but it doesn't really seem to be a visual image. It's not that humanity is made visually to look like God. The instructions to be fruitful, increase, fill the earth, subdue it, rule over it, it seems to be a functional image that's being portrayed here rather than a physical image.

Dave Brennan: So His representatives or His deputies, or something like that, continuing the creative work, the subduing work. That’s helpful. We'll definitely come back to the functionality of this. But then the other thing that happens very soon after this is, of course, God says it's “very good” as opposed to just “good”.

When He made the sea, the dry land, the sky, the stars, whatever, that was good. The animals: still just good. The people: very good. So I think we can safely say human beings are the pinnacle of God's creation. So that's just a very quick look at the first reference.

The second one, how significant is it that we see this happening after the fall? So we’ll turn to Genesis 9 for that, because that's the specific reference. But in Genesis 5 first of all then, this echo we get in verse 1: “God created man in his own likeness.” “Adam had a son in his own likeness, in his own image.” What light does that shed on what it might mean that we're made in God's image?

Beth Davey: I think it definitely means that it’s something intrinsic to humanity, that it's not just for Adam and Eve, but it is something that is passed down. I think here it maybe goes beyond something that's functional, because these children, they're maybe not functioning in extending the rule and reign of God and ‘subduing the earth’ at that time, and yet they're still in that image. So it seems that it's something more intrinsic to what it means to be human than just a function that we perform.

Dave Brennan: I think that's really helpful because of course, this son he had in his own likeness, started life as a fertilised egg, a zygote, an embryo. And yet it seems pretty clear from the get go, he was in Adam's image and Adam was in God's image. So the image of God can't be reduced to functionality. I think that's really key.

Do you think it could also suggest that being made in God's image means that we reflect him, maybe not visually, but we reflect him in a way that a son reflects his father, that there is almost a familial likeness?

Beth Davey: Yes, and I think the very physical nature of the family and seeing that passed on is a symbol of what we've got between us and God. I think you see that between Jesus and the Father. In Christ the fullness of God dwells, and we see that He was the image of the invisible God. And so you can see that relationship between reflecting who the father is, and that continues throughout. Maybe you get the sense of, after the fall, you can lose that family likeness. As the generations go on, you can see you don't maybe have your grandfather's ears or your grandmother's nose.

Dave Brennan: You can still have her shoes though!

Beth Davey: I do have her shoes! But you start to lose that sometimes. And I think that represents what we see after the fall maybe, that we start to lose some of that likeness, but it is still there.

Dave Brennan: So degeneration. That's very helpful. And again, Genesis 1, we see that they are made in God's image and then straightaway: “Be fruitful and multiply.” Is there something even in our pro-creativity, which is itself, part of being in the image of God? Because God gives life, God creates. And what an incredible privilege we have as human beings, those who are called to parenting, that we actually procreate. Is that part of the image of God, do you think?

Beth Davey: I think so. Fundamentally. God in himself is Father and Son and Spirit. And so fundamental to the being of God is that Fatherhood and Sonship, and so to be Father, He has to eternally be Father. He can't become Father at some point, otherwise he wouldn't be eternally Father. Same with the Son. He has to eternally be Son, and so that family relationship within the being of God is completely represented in being made in the image male and female, and that command to be fruitful and multiply. It's within the family unit, which is the bedrock of society, that I think we see the image of God at its fullness. It's not just the individual, but it's person in communion.

Dave Brennan: So the family dynamic within the Godhead is intrinsic. Therefore, if we're made in his image we should expect to see that. And that is very striking, isn't it? Genesis 1, male and female made in God's image together. It's inherently interpersonal, isn't it? It is inherently a relational concept, which does rub against the modern concept of personhood, doesn't it? Whereas, I know we've talked a bit about Ann Furedi’s book, the Moral Case for Abortion, but she's by no means an outlier. How do people today see personhood? What is that?

Beth Davey: We see this on the streets all the time. That to be a person, it's an individual with consciousness and the ability to reason. And so if you are not an individual with those abilities, you're not a person. I don't think that's scripturally what we see at all. It seems to me that there's something so much more intrinsic to who you are, that even if you don't have those abilities, you are still in the image of God. You've still got personhood status. It's not based on mental capacity.

Dave Brennan: I think that's so key for our listeners and all of us to get a hold of, that the functionality, be it how we relate to people, our mental capacities, these spring from the fact we're made the the image of God. But our dignity in being made in the image of God cannot be reduced to any one function. It's bigger than that. It's deeper than that. And I think that's so important in a very functional society, which values, almost in a utilitarian way, if you can't do certain things or even if you can't enjoy certain things, you don't count.

And it seems to me, and we'll look at some of these scriptures, the Bible very directly speaks against that idea. Just briefly, the third reference there. What differences does it make? This is after the flood. It's clearly after the Fall, God reiterating.

Beth Davey: I think it's really important that he reiterates it in a New Covenant after those times, that we still have the image of God. We can't claim that we've lost the image of God in mankind. He quite clearly divinely speaks the word that God has made man in His image, and then by extension, anyone who dishonors his image, through killing or shedding blood, in effect, dishonours God himself. Because this is a representation of who He is, an extension of His presence and rule in the world. In shedding blood or killing the image, you haven't killed God himself, but you have disrespected Him, dishonored Him, and it's a personal afront to who He is, that you have thought that you can go as far as to hurt his image.

Dave Brennan: Yes. I believe in our country, it's an offense, isn't it, even to tear up an image of the Queen? It's taken as a personal afront. How much more if we actually kill one of God's, whatever you want to call it, deputies, ambassadors? He takes it personally.

And I think it's also really interesting in Genesis 9 that the command to be fruitful, and multiply, and increase in number, is reiterated as well. And I remember as quite a young boy being struck by this, because it's easy to look around at the world and think so much has gone wrong, we've gone so far off the rails, is it even a good thing to beget children, to bring about the next generation? I remember consciously reading this and thinking, wow, no, even after the flood, where every thought of everyone was only wicked all the time, God still reiterates ‘In the image of God’, go forth and be fruitful. So we Christians don't need to be birth-strikers, though that's a force that's rising in our generation, isn't it?

Beth Davey: It's very popular right now, isn't it?

Dave Brennan: Let's talk a bit about image of God in the cultural context. So where do we see this idea, this phrase in other ancient near Eastern literature, and how does that inform our understanding?

Beth Davey: In the surrounding cultures, ‘image of God’ was still used. I think that's to be expected if everyone came from Adam and Eve and they understood that humanity is made in the image of God, when they spread out, and different religions would come up, they would still have that fundamental understanding.

A lot of the times in the ancient near East it was mainly the kings though, who were made in the image of God. And the idea was that the rest of humanity was made as servants to God. So I think this contrasts with what we see in scripture, that it's not only the elite who are made in the image of God, but all of humanity has that value and dignity, which other surrounding cultures, they didn't have that understanding. It was just the rulers who were made in the image of God.

Dave Brennan: That's interesting. It mirrors what we see in our society and in cultures throughout history where the personhood, (if we want to use that term,) or value dignity, gets narrowed, doesn't it, just to some people? Be it the highest caste in a caste system, or be it people of certain skin colour, or kings, or people of certain social standings. The image of God gets narrowed. Now sadly, I think some Christian theologians have adopted that same trend where they've said the image of God is primarily or even purely functional, and it's for ruling and reigning, which can leave those who are unable to rule and reign somewhat in the gutters.

Have you come across that people saying the image of God is just a functional thing? And how can we combat that scripturally?

Beth Davey: I've come across it particularly with the idea of perhaps women who are infertile. They are unable to live up to the cultural mandate, that command to rule and reign, and so somehow in them, the image of God is broken or distorted because they can't fulfill that command.

I think biblically, Psalm 8 gives a great combat to this. Psalm 8:4 & 5, the Psalmist writes,

4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? 5 You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honour.’
I think that in itself just shows it's not necessarily the performative aspects, he goes on to say,
6 You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet.

But it’s human beings as human beings, who are primarily in the image of God. And it's amazing because it makes you think what is it about humanity that God thinks so highly of them? There's nothing about us particularly, except that one intrinsic part of our nature that we are in His image.

Dave Brennan: And it seems to me, although the scriptures don't keep banging on about the image of God in so many words, Genesis of course is foundational, and that prohibition that you can't just kill people because they're made in God's image, it's one of the first commands really we see in scripture and it's foundational to all the Mosaic Law.

And it's expanded and expounded and we see it playing into so many different things. But what's really interesting about the biblical ethic is protection extends to the children, the elderly, the foreigner, the disabled. So it seems to me, that is an application of this concept. It clearly goes against the cultures of the day, the other cultures of the day. And I think the most striking example, of course, is the way Jesus himself behaved. It seems that Jesus had a bias towards the social outcasts. He even said, “the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these,” bringing up a child. Probably people thought he was joking, but no,He kept dignifying children, women, elderly, the sick, the outcast, the demon-possessed, the people who were not deemed helpful to society. So it seems to me there's no biblical support of this idea that people lose the image of God if they're not exercising certain forms of dominion.

Beth Davey: No. It seems to be something that's intrinsic despite what you can do. It is fundamentally part of who you are, not what you are. And I think that's something that we maybe get wrong. A lot of the time we focus on what God is in terms of his functional characteristics; that He is creator, He is King, He is ruler. But we don't often focus on who God is. And I think that gives us a distorted view of who we are. And we focus on our function, what we are, what we do, rather than our intrinsic who-ness - who we are.

Dave Brennan: That's really helpful. Probably my favorite reference on this is Job 31:13-15. This is really striking. We talked about this in the podcast with Tim Lewis, but it's worth repeating. Job is talking about his servants here. So in that culture, you really didn't have to care too much about what your servants thought about how you treated them. They're pretty much your property.

13 “If I've denied justice to my menservants and maidservants when they had a grievance against me, what will I do when God confronts me?

That's a pretty radical idea. God confronting you about how you treat servants, verses 14 & 15:

14 what will I answer when called to account? 15 Did not he who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same one form us both within our mothers.”

Now that doesn't use the phrase image of God, but I think it's ever so clear that what puts them all on a level playing field here is one Creator, in His image. The social standing is really not important compared to that.

So it's more than just functional. But there is a functional aspect. Let's think about the fact that if we're made in the image of God, what then do we make of these very frequent references throughout scripture, as to God seeing things, God hearing things, God being moved with compassion, His mighty hand intervening to bring salvation or whatever?

Even these references to mother-like love, as a mother has compassion with her children. How do we understand those? Are these just anthropomorphic, biblical writers trying to help us to understand a picture of what God might be like? Is it that way around, or how should we understand this?

Beth Davey: I think lots of people think that it is just human beings trying to understand God in concepts that make sense to them. I think though, there's something more going on here. Image is used throughout scripture. It's not just used in these 3 image of God references, but we see time and time again images relating to idols in surrounding cultures. And so I think maybe some of their understanding is helpful for us as well.

They believed, in surrounding cultures, that idols were a representation and a physical extension of the God. And they would go through these idol washing ceremonies to open the eyes, or the ears, or the mouth. And we hear Jeremiah mocking them for these things, that they think that they can use bits of stone or wood to actually hear or perform functions that we see attributed to God in scripture.

But if in Genesis 1 we are the image of God, and what we see in surrounding cultures is the idol, the presence in a physical form, and God has placed us as his image in his cosmic temple, the world, then it makes sense that as we are his representation, what breaks our heart breaks His heart, what we see He sees, what we do He does. And we see this continued through into the New Testament that we are the body of Christ. And what our hands do, it's part of His body doing those things. Where we go, it's part of His body going to those places. And so I think there's a much more complex and nuanced understanding of the relationship between the creator and His image that we can see in this sense.

Dave Brennan: That's helpful. It’s about which is primary, which comes first. Of course, God comes first. It's not that He's in our image, we're in His image and therefore, I think we shouldn't be dismissive of when it talks about Him, for example, hearing the cries of the poor and acting. Okay, maybe he doesn't physically hear in the way that we physically hear, and yet, think of it this way, why has he given us our ears? Why do we have eyes? Part of that's to enjoy creation. Part of it's just to relate. But I think part of it is to be able to respond appropriately to God's world. And in particular, injustice actually. Because so often we see God seeing or hearing, or acting, it's in response to injustice or sin, or people's cries for help.

And I'd like to come back to that towards the end. Because if we take seriously the fact we made the image of God, it actually affects how we are called to behave, not just who we are called to care about. Perhaps we'll come back to that.

Colossians 3:10 says that we're being renewed in knowledge in the image of our creator. What's your understanding of that? What's that saying?

Beth Davey: My understanding would be that, like with Romans, we need to be renewing our mind. As we've turned away from our Creator we lose some of that image. It's like a mirror reflecting. If we're facing towards God, we're reflecting and imaging him, but as we turn away, we lose that reflection. And so in being renewed, we need to turn back and understand, get rid of the false concepts and ideas that we've got about what it means to be human, and actually look to the one who created us for our grounds of being.

And I think we see this as well as we're called to become more Christlike, as Jesus images God perfectly, we see what it means for ourselves to image God. He is the true and better Adam, isn't he? What Adam was called to do as the image of God, He does perfectly. And so as we strive through the power of the Holy Spirit to press on in sanctification, to become more and more like Him, in, as you said, meeting the down and outs, the people who have been trampled on by society, those outcasts. I think that's partly as we start to step out in those ways, reframe that image and turn back to our Creator.

Dave Brennan: That's really helpful. So you turn back, you reflect more accurately and that's one aspect of our redemption story, that we are being renewed and we're being restored to that image-bearing role that we have somewhat lost, not entirely. Even unbelievers are imaging God to some extent, but part of our redemption is to recover that. Before I come onto my last couple of questions, is there anything I should have been asking, that I haven't been asking?

Beth Davey: I don't know that you should have asked this, but I think there is something interesting in Genesis 3, that we haven't spoken about, where Satan tempts Adam and Eve, v4 & v5, he says to Eve:

4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

I just think it's interesting, there seems to be something about the likeness of God is extending His ethics and His morality, that good and evil. They already had the likeness of God, which we read in chapter one, but Satan tempts them to disobey God by the idea that they will be like God. And there seems to be this thinking that, Philippians 2, they can try and grasp equality with God. They're not just the image of God, but they can become a God for themselves, and define what's good and evil. And I think we see that everywhere today, don't we? People trying to define good and evil for themselves. Not extending God’s morality and ethics. And so in a way they're rejecting the image, and setting up their own image. And they're wanting to be like God, but their own God. Not like the God that created them.

Dave Brennan: That's interesting. So it sounds quite similar linguistically, trying to be like God, we're made like God, but actually there's a big difference between faithfully being his deputies and actually trying to usurp him. I'm reminded of Psalm 50:21:

21 …you thought I was altogether like you.

And that's a rebuke because these are people who, (and we hear this on the streets, not just on the streets in our work, but across the board) you hear people saying stuff like, “I think God should think this. God should be pleased with me, I've lived a good life”. Or, “How can God do this?” Or,“Why isn't God doing that?” And it's all very much who I think God ought to be. Because I think I'm making him and my image. And of course the ‘my body, my choice’ mantra is very much, I'm God. And I'm in charge of my body and even the body inside my body.

Beth Davey: But even in that way, they are in a sense rejecting the image in which they're created. Because they are not submitting themselves to what God's standard of good and evil is. But they are redefining it for themselves.

Dave Brennan: Someone said over the last couple of years, that “When we try to become more than human, we actually become less than human.” I think it was in the context of those far-reaching claims: “We're going to kill the virus, we can control nature,” but actually in those attempts to control nature, we end up doing very dehumanising things.

Just on that, the fact that we're not called to usurp God, there are obviously aspects of God's character we're not called to. There are roles, there are things that God does, we're not called to join in on. So we're not called to judge in the same way. We don't decide what's right and wrong.

Are there particular aspects of who God is and what God does, that you think we're meant to hone in on, in particular, in imaging Him?

Beth Davey: I think in particular for our culture today, that relational aspect which we've lost and people are seeking it in identity politics. They're looking for these groups, these communities, because there is something intrinsic in them that they need other people. But I think what we've done is we've lost the male and female family aspect. And so I think what we should be honing in on in society really is rebuilding that family unit and encouraging people that children are good.

God says children are a blessing and yet we've got this warped idea from society that they hate children, children are an inconvenience. And that seems to go against who God is as eternal Father, eternal Son.

Dave Brennan: Can I share a little anecdote on that? Twice in recent history, I've looked somewhere to take my little girls camping in wider North Norfolk, and then in a great deal of Kent. In both locations, I could only find one campsite in about a 20 mile radius that would even accept children, which is quite interesting. There are loads of child free holiday places you can go on, and it's a small thing, but actually there is this growing sense of children are a nuisance.

They get in the way of your career, they get in the way of your relationship, your autonomy, whatever. And I think it was Kamala Harris even said recently, “There are women getting pregnant every day in the States and it’s a massive problem.” As if pregnancy is a disease, a pandemic. A pandemic of pregnancy and children are a curse. That's the sort of the sense I think increasingly we're getting.

But as we come into land, let's just talk about this particular thing that comes out from being made in the image of God. Of course it dignifies the unborn child, that made in the image of God from the get go. There's no such thing as a human being not made in the image of God. No matter how developed. From the get go, they’re made in the image of God. Psalm 139 talks about God's interest in the baby in the womb very powerfully.

But I want to close by focusing on what we're called then to do about this. Because you get plenty of people saying, “I believe in sanctity of life. I believe people are made in the image of God,” but it doesn't seem to really materialise in what they're willing and prepared to do. So it seems to me how we treat people, to some extent, reveals how we treat God, and in particular how we treat the vulnerable. It's been said that the measure of society is how it treats its most vulnerable. And I think that's true. That is the litmus test. It shows where we're at spiritually to some degree. Of course, there's more to be said. One passage that talks about this James 3:9, it talks about praising God, but then cursing men who have been made in God's likeness, it says in v10:

10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.

It suggests that actually, you can't praise God with one breath and then curse people who are made in his image. That's like you’re cursing God.

Beth Davey: It's similar to what it says in 1 John, isn't it? “You can't love God and hate your brother.” Hate, I think is an active thing you can do, but it's also a passive thing you can do. Just leaving them to their fate or ignoring them when they're crying out for help. That can show hate as well, can't it?

Dave Brennan: Because we're talking about biblical love here. We're talking about agape, self-sacrificial, a decision, an act. We're not talking about fuzzy feelings. But also when Jesus talks about the great commandment: love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, He says the second is like it doesn't he? The second is like it. Love your neighbour as yourself. Now what does he mean by ‘like it’?

Beth Davey: I suppose that it, if you are not loving God, if you're not in that place with God, then you're not going to be reaching out to your neighbour. But if you are in that relationship with God where you love God, and you want to serve him, the outpouring of that is going to be to everyone around you. He goes on to say, doesn't He, “The law and the prophets hang on these two commands”, and throughout the Torah, you see these commands to not harvest to the edge of the fields so that those aliens and foreigners around you, they have something to eat. And things like this.

And so it seems that if you are loving God, you will love your neighbour. It's the only logical progression. But if you're not loving your neighbour, then maybe you're not loving God.

Dave Brennan: Exactly. And it says in James 2, it refers to love your neighbour as yourself, as the “royal law.” And I think, perhaps as little more than a play on words, but it strikes me that the way we are told to treat children, the elderly, the disabled, whatever, the foreigner, we are to treat them as if they're royalty, regardless of how powerful they are. And again, James is really worth reading the whole way through to get a grip on how we treat the vulnerable and what that means about our spirituality. As you say, if you don't love your neighbour, do you even love God? It's a searching question, but in James 5 it talks about:

1 Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you.

And it talks about,

4Look, the wages you failed to pay the workman who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.

And it's pretty serious. Now, these guys, they just failed to pay people. Perhaps there is violence, there is bloodshed, but even failing to pay properly is seen as an afront against the God Almighty.

And as Jesus said,“What you did for the least of these, you did for me”. But let's just close with thinking about what it means for us, for our listeners here, because we've all heard that saying, “Look, if you don't like abortion, don't have one.” And many Christians have been all too willing to comply with that mantra. “Look, you don't like abortion, fine. Don't have an abortion yourself. But don't try and stop someone else having an abortion.” What's the Christian response to that in the light of all we've been saying about the image of God?

Beth Davey: I think Bonhoeffer says it best:

Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

And I think God takes it very seriously. We see that in Genesis 9. It's very serious, the shedding of the blood of one of His images. And so if we are not willing to speak up, I think, like you see in the society of Noah's flood, we will be washed away with the flood. It's only the righteous, those who are seeking after God, and then by extension, are loving their neighbour correctly, that will be able to stand.

Dave Brennan: Someone said recently that law without consequence is just good advice. If there's no consequence, it’s just good advice. And in a similar way, belief in the sanctity of life or saying you're pro-life, or saying you believe we’re made the image of God, that doesn't look like anything, in a society where every day 500 image bearers are being violently killed here in the UK. I don't think people in that situation really do believe we’re made in the image of God.

And I want really to close this with a challenge to these people. And I myself have been there. This is not me pointing the finger. I spent most of my life being passive on this issue. But if we say we take the Bible seriously, and it's ever so clear we're all made the image of, and yet we don't lift a finger, we don't say a word in defense of God's image bearers, do we really believe we're made in the image of God and do we really love God?

We might say we do. We might even think we do, but do we biblically? Someone wrote an article in Premier recently opening with, “I'm a Christian, I'm pro-life. I believe in the sanctity of life,” but went on to say that abortion laws should be supported. So that's my challenge to people.

If you want to show it, it's not so much an answer you give with your mouth. It's something you show with your actions. If you do believe in the image of God, one of the ways you can do that is to go to You can join the movement and you can get involved and do what Beth's doing out on the streets.

Be one of our educators engaging in the public, being a voice for voiceless. That's one of the ways I just want to encourage people to do that. We'll put the link below, but Beth, do you have a final take home point you want to put out there for people as we finish?

Beth Davey: For me, it keeps coming back to that relationality of God and being made in his image. We are relational. We can't just be images of God by ourselves. A man is not an island. And I think for me the foundational image of God of the unborn is that, before they can do anything functionality wise, before they can extend the rule and reign of God, from the moment of conception, they are in relationship, they are a child and they have a mother. And that is fundamental to who they are. And I think that shows, aside from anything that they can do, that they are still in that image of God. And it's vital, like Jesus says, “Which one of these loves their neighbour? Go and do likewise.” That we have to stand up and do something because from the moment that the sperm meets the egg, they're in relationship with their mother and we need to protect that.


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