By Paula Price Tanner
“Sanctifying Every Life” was the theme for a series of lectures presented by Dr. David P. Gushee on Feb. 23 and 24. Gushee presented three lectures on biblical references to the sanctity of life and how the concept has influenced groups from the earliest days of Christianity to modern times.
“Sanctity of life is the biblical conviction that all human beings are to be perceived as sacred, as persons of equal and immeasurable worth and of inviolable dignity,” Gushee said. “This includes human beings at any and every stage of life, from womb to tomb; in any and every state of consciousness; of any and every race, color, and ethnicity; of every level of intelligence; whatever their religion, language, nationality, or gender; of every type of character and behavior, physical ability or disability, potential, class and social status; and whether they are friends, strangers, or enemies to us. Everyone. No exceptions.”
Gushee noted that writings of the early Christians reflect a strong commitment to recognizing the sanctity of all people. “Christians once changed the world through their Christ drenched love for the abandoned of the world—lepers, slave, prostitutes, beggars, abandoned infants, and those condemned to die,” he said. Today, sanctity of life is an idea which many associate with discussions of abortion or capital punishment, but its implications are actually more far reaching than those issues, Gushee said.
“The sanctity of life is not a slogan. It cannot be confined to a single issue, and it is not owned by any political party. The sanctity of life is God’s will for the world he has made. Honoring that sanctity is our comprehensive moral obligation as Christians. If God has decided that each and every life is sacred, then God’s people have no choice but to do the same.”
A graduate of the College of William and Mary, Southern Baptist Seminary, and Union Theological Seminary, Gushee serves as Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer University and writes regularly on the subject of ethics for the Associated Baptist Press and the Washington Post. His lectures were sponsored by the UMHB Center for Baptist Studies and the university’s Honors Program.