“Why are kids killing kids?” people are crying out, as if it were some great mystery. There’s a simple answer. It’s because they’ve been listening to what we’ve been telling them. Everywhere in the secular media I’ve been hearing about the critical problem of poor self-esteem and low regard for human life among our young people. These two things are cited as the cause of teen suicide, drug abuse, crime and violence, including all the school shootings where kids have killed other kids.
Educators and community leaders are desperately trying to find ways to help children bolster their sense of the value of all human lives, including their own. “How can we get through to our kids?” everyone is asking.
But where does this plague of the perceived low value of human life come from? Ironically, straight from the atheistic evolutionary view of man with which society has indoctrinated our young people in the classrooms, through the media and often even in the home. (By the way, educated adults have been killing kids by abortion—and justifying it—for decades...so why shouldn’t kids kill kids?)
So where can young people get a positive view of the value of human life? From the very Judeo-Christian ethic society tries so desperately to keep out of the classrooms and public life.
The answer is not for society to “get through” to our kids with our current message. Our message isn’t the solution, it’s the problem. The solution isn’t to improve our communication, it’s to change the message.
Let me summarize the secular and Christian foundations for the value of life, then you tell me whether it’s any wonder that America’s children are feeling like they, their lives and the lives of others have so little meaning and worth.
The Secular Basis for the Value of Human Life
You are the descendant of a tiny cell of primordial protoplasm that washed up on an ocean beach ten billion years ago. You are the blind and arbitrary product of time, chance and natural forces. Your closest living relatives swing from trees and eat crackers at the zoo. You are a mere grab-bag of atomic particles, a conglomeration of genetic substance. You exist on a tiny planet in a minute solar system in an obscure galaxy in a remote and empty corner of a vast, cold, and meaningless universe. You are flying through lifeless space with no purpose, no direction, no control, and no destiny but final destruction.
You are a purely biological entity, different only in degree but not in kind from a microbe, virus or ameba. You have no essence beyond your body, and at death you will cease to exist entirely. What little life you do have is confined to a fragile body aimlessly moving through a world plagued by war, famine and disease. The only question is whether the world will manage to blow itself up before your brief and pointless life ends on its own.
In short, you came from nothing, you are going nowhere, and you will end your brief cosmic journey beneath six feet of dirt, where all that is you will become food for bacteria and rot with worms.
And now, kids...Why don’t you feel good about yourselves? Why don’t you have more respect for human life?
The Christian Basis for the Value of Human Life
From the moment of conception you and all other human beings are the special creation of a good and all powerful God. You are the climax of his creation, the magnum opus of the greatest artist in the universe. You are created in His image, with capacities to think, feel, and worship that set you above all other life forms. You differ from the animals not simply in degree, but in kind, in your very essence.
Not only is your kind unique, but you are unique among your kind. God has masterminded the exact combination of DNA and chromosomes that constitute your genetic code, making you as different from all others as every snowflake differs from the rest.
Yes, you are sinners, and because of sin you do not deserve to go to heaven. But despite your unworthiness, your Creator loved you so much and so intensely desires your companionship that he gave the life of his only Son that you might spend eternity with him. If you are willing to accept the free gift of salvation, you can become a child of God, the King of the universe.
As a Christian, you are clothed with the righteousness of Christ. He has given you special gifts and abilities to serve him in a particular and unique way.
Your heavenly Father is sovereign, and will allow nothing to cross your path that is not Father-filtered. He cares for you so much that He is totally available to you at all times, and listens to every word you say. He cares deeply about your hurts, and has a perfect plan for your life. He has given you the inspired Word of God as a road-map for living. He gives you the truth that sets you free, a life that is abundant and eternal, and a spiritual family that loves and needs you.
Your destiny is to live forever in a magnificent kingdom, to reign with Christ over the universe. You will forever enjoy the wonders of his presence and the marvels of his creations. You will spend eternity in intimate and joyful fellowship with your beloved Lord and your precious spiritual family.
Now, kids...How does that make you feel about yourselves? How does that make you feel about the value of human life?
“Whoever finds Me loves life . . . but whoever fails to find Me harms himself; all who hate Me love death.” (Proverbs 8:36)
Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.