24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
For some years in South Georgia I taught a high school Bible class. I developed a habit in that class of asking the students to answer a question anonymously on paper. The question was this: “If you were in a boat and in the deep water beside you were your favorite pet as well as a man you did not know…and you could only pull one of them into the boat and the other would drown…and nobody would ever know about the one that drowned…which of the two would you save?” Time and again I was stunned by how many students answered, “I would save my pet.” I wonder what kind of responses we would get here in this sanctuary if I asked the same question on an anonymous form?
The problem, of course, is that these answers represent either a lack of awareness of the supreme value and dignity of human life, of its qualitative distinctiveness against the rest of creation, or a knowing disregard for it. For this reason, it is extremely important to know what scripture says about the nature of human life and its relationship to the rest of creation.