The Sanctity of Human Life Print


For your information, inspiration and intercession, please study this ICCP Discussion Document from the Reformation 500 Church Consultation in Wittenberg, Germany, October 2017. For the broadcast and livestreamed presentations held at the Global Reformation Conference in July 2019, click here.


If you have any suggestions on how these may be improved, or to communicate the support of your church, mission, or ministry, write to the International Church Council Project.




A. Foundational Biblical principles




Article 1

We affirm that the Bible—being God’s inspired, inerrant, written Word—is truth in its entirety, and as such, is the ultimate standard by which all other truth-claims are to be judgeda, and thus offers mankind the clearest, most complete picture of all reality and the only logically coherent worldview.

We deny that there is any source of truth higher than, or equal to, the Bible or that the Bible’s truth may be judged by any other standard.

a Jn 17:17; Ps 1:1; 111:7; 119:89, 128, 151, 160; Mt 24:35; Nu 23:19; 2 Tim 3:16–17; 2 Pt 1:3; 1 Cor 3:19




Article 2

We affirm that no one is religiously, metaphysically, epistemologically, or ethically neutral—having no presuppositions, no view of truth, no view of right and wrong, and no worldview by which to see reality and filter all data. All humans live and work on the basis of either the Christian worldview or some non-Christian, anti-biblical worldview.

We further affirm that modern history declares that scientists, medical researchers, and medical practitioners (including psychiatrists and psychologists) who are not submitted to the absolutes of the Christian worldview have often become very dangerous weapons in the hands of a totalitarian state.

We deny that non-biblical worldviews can provide an adequate basis for the sanctity of human life.a

a See Appendix, “Non-biblical worldviews provide no basis for the sanctity of human life”




Article 3

We affirm that the infinite, personal, Triune God of the Bible created man in His image;a thus human beings reflect and represent God to some degree and are qualitatively distinct from and superior to all the rest of creation.b Since man is the image of God, each human life is of inestimable value from conception to death.

We deny all views that would undermine the absolute and eternal Creator-creature distinction or that claim man is divine or can ever become divine.

We further deny the rationality and morality of any attempt to distinguish persons from non-persons within the human race.

a Gn 1:26f; 5:1, 3; 9:6; 1 Cor 11:7; Ja 3:9; cf. Ps 8:5

b Gn 1:27–30; 2:19f; 9:1–3; Job 35:10; Ps 8:6–8; Ec 7:29; Mt 12:11f




Article 4

We affirm that, after the fall of man, sin disrupted and marred God’s image, but fallen man still bears the image of God, however distorted it may become.a

We deny that, after the fall, man no longer retains any aspects of the image of God, including his original, God-ordained value that makes him superior to all animals, vegetables, minerals or galaxies.

a Gn 5:1ff; 9:6; 1 Cor 11:7; Ja 3:9




Article 5

We affirm that the triune God, Who reveals Himself in the Bible, created mankind for Himself, and thus all people, Christian and non-Christian alike, are obligated to exist primarily for God’s own glory, pleasure, and purposes.a

We deny that people have a right to exist for the purpose of serving their own pleasures, security or prestige, or that any human may rightly deny Gods existence and not live in grateful obedience to God’s biblical commands.b

a Col 1:16; Ro 11:36; Rv 4:11; 1 Cor 10:31

b Ro 1:18–21ff




Article 6

We affirm that: God is the ultimate givera and ownerb of human life, and therefore He alone can determine and delegate the lawful means for bringing new human life into existence.

We further affirm that as the Creator, God has the right to take human lifec and determine and delegate what is the lawful means for ending a human life.d

We further affirm that God opens and closes the womb and thus is active in the conception processe, and that children are a gift from God.f

We deny that the forming of new life, or that the control over human beings, belongs to man to do as he wishes, independent from God’s written law-Word.

We further deny that the formation of a new human life should introduce seed or eggs beyond that of the husband or wife.g

We further deny that any person or state has the right to take human life in violation of God’s written law-Word.h

a Gn 2:7; 4:1; Dt 32:39; Job 33:4; 32:8; Ec 12:7; Is 42:5; 57:16; Zc 12:1; Heb 12:9

b Ezk 18:4; Ps 24:1; Nu 16:22; Heb 12:9; Dn 5:23

c Dt 32:39; 1 Sm 2:6; 2 Ki 5:7; Job 1:21; 14:5; Ps 68:20; Rv 1:18

d 2 Ki 14:6; Ac 25:11

e Gn 16:2; 20:18; 30:2, 17–24; Ex 23:25f; 29:31f; 30:22f; Ru 4:13; 1 Sm 1:5f, 10, 19f)

f Gn 17:16; Ps 127:3–5; 128:3f

g Mal 2:14f; 1 Tim 5:14




Article 7

We affirm that God works all things according to His sovereign, all-wise, and all-comprehensive plan.a

We further affirm that (though we may not understand why) God’s plan includes physical and mental defects,bdebilitating diseases,c calamities,d the extent of each person’s financial resources,e and God’s plan exercises control over the sinful acts of every person.f

We further affirm that God has His own good purposes for human suffering, and gives people grace to endure it, and that suffering is never meaningless.

We deny that anything or anyone is outside the scope of God’s sovereign plan and providential control.

We further deny: that there are any “accidents” from God’s perspective; that God has no future knowledge of all things; and that there is any real thing called “chance” in this universe.

a Eph 1:11

b Ex 4:11; Is 45:9–11; Jn 9:1–3

c Jn 11:4; Ex 15:26

d Am 3:6; Job 1:21

e Job 34:19; 1 Sm 2:7; Dt 8:18

f Gn 50:20; 2 Sm 16:10; 24:1; Ps 76:10; Ac 3:13; 4:27f; Ro 11:32

k Job; Ro 5:3f; 2 Cor 1:3–6; 12:7–10; Ja 1:2–4; Ro 8:28; 1 Cor 10:13




Article 8

We affirm that God has ordained human mortalitya and that—though death[2] is an enemyb—dying is not always to be resisted.c

We further affirm that—though life is a gift from God—life is not to be worshipped and that God’s will includes some self-sacrifice —sometimes even to death.d

We further affirm that the biblical definition of death is God’s separation of the human body from its spirit, and that the physical criterion for death is the coagulation of the blood so it can no longer circulate the “breath of life.”

We deny the errors that: death is the end of human existence; death is an illusion; and death, in itself, is a good thing.

We further deny that the continuation of an individual human life is always the highest good or that it is always God’s will.

We further deny that the recent technological definitions of death (other than that stated above) are either adequate or ethical.

a Gn 2:16f; 3:19; Job 14:5; Ps 90:10; Ec 3:2; Ro 5:12; Heb 9:27

b 1 Cor 15:26

c Gn 49:33; Mt 27:50; Ac 21:13; 25:11; Ro 14:7f; Ph 1:21

d Jn 10:11; 15:13; Ro 5:7f; 1 Cor 13:3; 2 Cor 4:7–18; chapters 11–12; Ph 1:20–26; Heb 11; 1 Jn 3:16; cf. Est 4:16; Dn 3:17f




Article 9

We affirm that people are God’s creation,a and they belong to Him in their entiretyb—bodiesc andsouls.c

We further affirm that, since we are the Lord’s, no one has a right to live or die to himself.e

We deny that a person’s body belongs to oneself, and that one has a right to do with it whatever one wishes.

a Ps 100:3

b Ps 24:1

c 1 Cor 6:15–20; 7:4

d Ezk 18:4

e Ro 14:7f




Article 10

We affirm that, because man’s knowledge is finite,a apart from the Bible, there is no logically coherent standard for ethicsb and no adequate standard for determining: human value; the purpose of human life; or the usefulness or the quality of someone’s life.

We further affirm that finite human knowledge, coupled with the depravity of the human mind and will, is incompetent to control life and to develop a superior form of humanity.

We further affirm that—though the Bible speaks truth—the truth we humans know is finite and will always be so—even in heaven.

We deny that man, starting from himself, has the right, or the mental or moral competence, to develop his own ethical standards,c to control life or to determine whether someone’s life has no purpose.

We further deny that people can know with absolute certainty who is incurable, or that they can know all of God’s purposes in allowing suffering.d

a Dt 29:29; 1 Cor 13:9, 12; Ro 11:33f; Ps 139:6; Is 55:8f

b Ja 4:12; Ex 20

c Jn 9:1–4; Job 38–41

d Job 1–2; Ps 44


B. God safeguards human life with Biblical laws




Article 11

We affirm that God reveals His absolute ethics to man through the Bible and that the Bible’s ethics and principles are binding upon everyone, everywhere, for all time. We further affirm that normative ethics, the “ought”, cannot be derived from what “is”.

We deny that ethics is relative and that ethics may be personally, culturally, pragmatically or statistically determined.

We further deny that, because man is scientifically and technologically able to do something, it is necessarily morally right for him to do so.


Article 12


We affirm that murder is the intentional killing of a human being in violation of God’s law.

We deny that murder includes: accidental manslaughter;a killing in self-defense;b Biblically-authorized capital punishment; or killing combatants in a just war.c

a Ex 21:13f; Nu 35:11–15, 22–25; Dt 19:4–6, 10; Jos 20:1–9; with the exception of Ex 21:22f

b Ex 22:1

c 1 Ki 2:5f




Article 13

We affirm that, because all humans bear the image of God, God forbids murder and commands and exemplifies in the Bible that all murderers must be executed by legitimate civil governmentsa as swiftly as reasonably possible.

We deny that the New Testament overturns capital punishment and that any state, legislature, or court may rightfully dispense with capital punishment for murder.b

We further deny that the Church has ever been given authority by God to execute capital punishment.

a Gn 9:5f; Ex 21:12–14; Nu 35:16–21, 30–33; Lv 24:17; Dt 19:11–13; 21:1–9

b Mt 15:3 (citing Ex 21:17; Lv 20:9); Ro 1:32; 13:4; Ac 25:11, 25; 26:31; Rv 13:10; cf. 1Ti 1:8–10; Mt 5:17–19




Article 14

We affirm that when a murder occurs the land is polluted,a and the murderer’s family,b his cityc and his nationdshare the guilt of the murderere until the murderer is justly executed.

We further affirm that God will judge nations that fail to execute murderers,f but He will bless cities and nations that obey Him in this matter.g

We deny that God holds guiltless cities and nations that fail to execute murderers.h

We further deny the erroneous belief that God brings no judgments within history.i

a Nu 35:33f; Gn 4:10f

b 2 Sm 21:4–6; 2 Ki 9:26

c Dt 21:1–9; Jer 26:15

d Dt 19:10, 13

e Dt 21:7f

f Jer 2:34–37; Ho 1:4; 4:1–5

g Dt 19:13

h Am 1:11–15;Na 3:1

i Gn 6:13; 19:24; 1 Ch 16:14; Ps 105:7; Jer 18:7; Dn 2:21




Article 15

We affirm that abortion (i.e., the intentional killing of an unborn human baby)—at any stage of his or her development, regardless of motive—is murder.

We further affirm that:

infanticide (i.e., the intentional killing, by act or omission, of a human infant);

euthanasia/“mercy-killing”/assisted suicidea (i.e., the intentional killing, by act or omission, of a human being, whose life is deemed not worth living or too painful);

suicide (i.e., the voluntary and intentional killing, by act or omission, of oneself; self-murder);b

hastening death to obtain fresh organs;

birth control involving the destruction of fertilized human embryos (e.g., IUD, progestin “minipill,” progestin injections, high estrogen “morning after pill,” etc.);

destruction of fertilized human embryos when using reproductive technologies (including freezing human embryos, much in vitro fertilization, human embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, etc.);

human embryonic and fetal experimentation resulting in death;

reckless actions causing physical injury to a pregnant mother that directly results in the death of her baby c

are all forms of murder by God’s standards.

We further affirm that mercifully allowing natural death may be right in cases of imminent and irreversible death from incurable disease, fatal injury or old age—without unnatural, life-sustaining equipment, unless the person desires such heroic measures and has financial means to pay for them.

We deny that patients and their families have a moral obligation to receive medical treatments for which they have no righteous means of paying.

We further deny: that it is the state’s God-given responsibility to provide for, or to fund, medical care; that civil magistrates may enact legal definitions of death that are unbiblical, for the purpose of furthering organ harvesting, without becoming an accessory to murder; and that the end justifies the means.d

We further deny that birth control methods that do not prevent conception, but prevent implantation of a fertilized human egg in the uterus are not murderous.

We further deny that it is ever proper to withhold basic care and love for those who are dyinge or that laying down one’s life to save the lives of others is murder or unlawful suicide.f

a 2 Sm 1:6–16

b (Every instance of suicide and assisted suicide in the Bible is directly associated by the Biblical authors with the person’s spiritual collapse and disobedience against God) (Jdg 9:52–57; 1 Sm 31:3–6 // 1 Ch 10:3–6; 2 Sm 1:6–16; 17:23; 1 Ki 16:15–20; Mt 27:5; Ac 1:18).

c Ex 21:22f

d Ro 3:8

e Pr 13:6; Job 29:13 with 31:19; Mt 25: 35–45

f Jn 15:13;1 Jn 3:16




Article 16

We affirm that the Bible is unambiguous in teaching that a fetus is a human person, a living child, distinct from its mother.a

We further affirm that the fetus has its own unique set of genes and chromosomes, brain waves and fingerprints.

We deny that it is either biblical or scientific to claim that the fetus is merely a part of the mother’s body or that it is simply “tissue”.

a See Appendix “Evidence that a fetus is a person: Biblical evidence,” which discusses the following verses: Gn 16:11; Ex 21:22; 2 Sa 11:5 nkj; Is 7:14; Ex 21:22; Lk 1:41, 44; Gn 25:22; Job 3:3; Lk 1:36; Lk 1:15; Lk 1:41, 44; Lk 2:12, 16; Ac 7:19; 1 Pt 2:2; Lk 18:15; 2 Tim 3:15; Job 3:13; 31:15; Ps 22:9f; 139:13–16; 51:5; Is 49:1, 5; Jer 1:4f; 20:17f; Ho 12:3; Job 10:8–12; 31:15; Ps 119:73; 139:13–16; Jer 1:5; Ps 78:5f; Ex 21:22f; cf. Gn 9:5f; Gn 25:23; Ex 21:22f; Lk 1:15, 36, 41–44; Gal 1:15; Ps 51:5; Ro 5:12ff; Job 3:13–15; Lk 1:15; Lk 1:41, 44; Ps 51:5; Lk 1:41, 44; Gal 1:15f; Jdg 13:3, 5, 7; Is 49:1, 5; Jer 1:5; Ro 9:11f; Heb 10:5; Mt 1:20; Lk 1:35; Lk 1:31; Mt 1:20; Lk 1:31; Heb 2:17, 14; cf. Ps 22:9f; Is 49:1, 5; Lk 3:23–38; Ho 9:14; Job 3:10–16; 10:18f; Ec 6:3; Ex 23:26




Article 17

We affirm that the Bible teaches that children must not be punished for the sinful lifestyle or crimes of their parents.a

We deny that it is not murder to abort a baby for reasons of birth defects,b rape, incest, lifestyle choice, overpopulation or financial or personal stress.

a Dt 24:16; Ezk 18

b Ex 4:11; Is 45:9–11; Jn 9:1–3; 11:4




Article 18

We affirm that, in very rare cases in which pregnancy directly threatens the physical life of the mother, the doctor has two patients, the mother and the baby, and his efforts should be to save both.

We further affirm that, in the process of seeking to save the lives of both mother and child, it is not murder if medical science is unsuccessful in saving the life of one or both.

We deny that it is morally right for a doctor to care for a pregnant mother and neglect attempting to save the life of her unborn baby.




Article 19

We affirm that eugenics (now expanded through the technologies and use of sperm banks, artificial insemination by donor, surrogate mothers, in vitro fertilization, genetic engineering, cybernetics, nanotechnology, etc.) is a violation of the sanctity of human life.

We further affirm that:

Forced sterilization;

Torturing prisoners of war, or torturing for any reason;

Dangerous medical experiments with humans;

Unbiblical buying and selling human beings, including:

Kidnapping people to sell them and buying kidnapped people;a

Buying or selling human sperm or human eggs for the purpose of producing human embryos;

A woman renting her womb as a surrogate mother;

Buying and selling one’s sexuality (e.g., prostitution, pornography);


Racial prejudice; c and

Imprisonment as punishment for crime,

are all non-lethal violations of the sanctity of human life.

We deny that any of the above acts can be justified by the Bible.

a Rv 18:11, 13; Ex 21:16; Dt 24:7

b Ex 22:19; Lv 20:15f

c Contrast the racial solidarity of all mankind in:

Creation (Gn 1:26–28 God created all mankind in his image; Ac 17:26);

Fall (Gn 3:15–19; Ro 5:12; 1–3); and

Redemption—including: the atonement (Jn 3:16; 1 Tim 2:4; 1 Jn 2:2); the preaching of the gospel (Mt 28:18f; Ac 1:8; 2:8–11; 10:15, 34f); and union with Christ and unity in Christ’s church (Mk 11:17; 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 3:8, 28f; Eph 2:13–19; Col 3:11; Rv 5:9f; cf. Lk 10:33).




Article 20

We affirm that individual citizens and civil magistrates are not Biblically-bound to obey human laws or court rulings that violate the laws or commands of God’s written Word.

We further affirm that people must disobey any unjust law (as Biblically defined) whenever obedience to that law would cause them to disobey God’s written Word.


The complete document for this topic is available in pdf here. It includes extensive end-notes and appendices.


Coalition on Revival

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See also:

Ulrich Zwingli and the Reformation in Switzerland

1. The Authority of Scripture

2. Biblical Hermeneutics

3. The Essentials of a Christian World View

4. The Kingdom of God

5. The Omniscience of God and Human Freedom

6. The Pelagian Controversy

7. The Judicial and Substitutionary Nature of Salvation

8. The Trinity

9. The Eternal Fate of Unbelievers

10. The Lordship of Christ

11. The Unity of the Body of Christ

12. Church Discipline

13. Culture, Contextualization and Missions

14. Civic Duties

15. Biblical Economic Systems

16. Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage

17. Biblical Distinctives Between Males and Females

18. Homosexuality

19. Biblical Approach to Counselling

20. Israel and the Church

21. The Education of Christian Children