by Manuel, BSN Leader
Are people valuable? If so, what gives them value?
As I’ve traveled, I’ve encountered many worldviews that try to answer these questions. Sometimes, the answers show up in the strangest of places. Like a driving test.
In various cities in India, you’ll find a question on their driving test that reads something like this: “You are driving your car and come to a place in the road where there is a cow and a person. You cannot stop and have to hit one of them. Who do you hit?”
Did you answer cow? If so, you just failed the test.
A worldview is your set of beliefs that govern the way you live. In fact, the word “believe” comes from an old English word which means “by life.” In other words, you’ll know what I believe by looking at how I live. So what does the Hindu worldview say about the value of people? Of cows?
If that driver’s test was given in my home country, Germany, the failing answer would be the opposite. Western worldview would say that the person is more valuable than the cow, so by all means, spare the life of the person. It would say that our value is defined by what we do and contribute to society. If asked why we are more valuable than animals, western philosophy will generally answer that we are more valuable because we are at the top of the evolutionary chain, or that we can do more than animals.
One of the ways that people define value is by making a comparison. “A man is more valuable than a woman.”
To many of us, that statement seems absurd. Even insulting. You might wonder whether people still have those beliefs. I can assure you, they do. Just look around.
In March 2010, the Economist featured an article called Gendercide. It opens with a story of a woman who visits a peasant Chinese family and witnesses the birth of their child. As soon as the baby is born, the midwife drops it into the slop bucket, head first. “‘It’s a girl baby,’ [explained the midwife.] ‘We can’t keep it. Around these parts, you can’t get by without a son. Girl babies don’t count.’”
Think about modern day slavery – human trafficking. Millions of women are sold into sex slavery every year. Children work in sweatshops for an unliveable wage. How is that possible unless people don’t think the women are worth more than the money they can get for them? Or that their profits are more important than the lives of their workers?
There must be a way to stop these things from happening. Those changes must come from within, from a change in beliefs. I believe that only a Biblical worldview will bring true freedom to a dying world as we are being restored to what God originally created us for. Let’s take a closer look at what God says about our personal value and why we were created.
The Bible tells us that God made us in His image because He wanted to shower us with his love. He made us so that we can live in relationship with him and with others. In Genesis 1 and 2 we see God evaluate his creation and he says: “it’s good, it’s good, it’s good, it’s good.”
Then God makes man in Genesis 2 and he says “it’s not good…. It’s not good for man to be alone. I will make him a helper suitable for him.” If you do a study on the word “helper” this is not talking about somebody who is made to serve, do laundry, clean, etc. The word helper is used almost exclusively for God throughout the rest of the Bible. It’s usually used to describe a hero who comes and rescues someone from deepest trouble!
It is after the creation of woman that God evaluates everything again and pronounces his creation very good. This shows so clearly that God made man for relationship and that it is not good to live without relationship.
If I tried to auction off my guitar to help the earthquake victims in Haiti, how much money could I raise? Not much. What if I auctioned a guitar owned and played by Carlos Santana? A lot. Value is given to an object depending upon who it belongs to.
What if I auctioned off a handwritten book about my experiences in Bhutan? I would probably not get a whole lot for that. But what if I auctioned off a handwritten manuscript of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”? This would raise thousands of dollars. Value is directly affected by the creator (or author) of the object created.
Another thing that gives something value is rarity or uniqueness. When I collected stamps, I wanted the rare misprints because they were worth so much more. Humans are unique in the sense that even though there are six billion of us we can be identified by our fingerprints. You can think your own thoughts, thoughts I may never think. We are wonderfully and uniquely made to fulfill our design – to live in relationship with God and others.
Because God made us and made all of us unique with the purpose to live in a wonderful relationship with him and others, every single person whether male or female, black or white, healthy or handicapped, straight or gay is of infinite value.
If we started living like this is true and treat people for the infinitely valuable treasure they are, this world would look very different. This simple truth of the infinite value of people will end human trafficking and infanticide.
As we learn how God created this world and decide to live according to how he made the world, our lives will change.
How do we do that? Well, that will be discussed in another blog!