Day of Rest 6-10-12

Loiyangalani, Kenya
Loiyangalani, Kenya

The Image of God and Human Dignity

By Dr. Glenn Sunshine|Published Date: May 27, 2010

This is the second article in a series exploring the implications of humanity’s creation in the image of God.

God’s rep

In the first article in this series, we looked at how the term “image of God” was used in the ancient near east, noting that it was a royal term that described humanity as the official representative and regent of God in this world. This leads to the biblical teaching of human dominion over nature, but at the same time limits that dominion to acting as God’s steward in the world and taking care of it appropriately as His possession.[1]

Since in Genesis 1, the description of humanity focuses entirely on the image of God, it follows that this is the most essential element of what it means to be human. But this in turn has implications well beyond dominion and stewardship. In particular, it provides the only real foundation for human dignity and human rights.

Dignified above all else

First of all, the image of God distinguishes us from everything else in creation. Spain may grant “human rights” to great apes[2] and Switzerland may have enshrined plant rights into their constitution,[3] but neither of these alter the fundamental distinction between humans and either animals or plants. In fact, they demonstrate the difference: has any other species given rights to anything else? Has any other species acted to protect other species? Has any other species held itself in check in an effort to prevent another species from extinction?

The very fact that we can talk about rights and that we recognize our responsibilities toward other creatures puts the lie to the claims of animal rights activists that we are just another species on the planet, no different from any other. If that’s the case, why do the animal rights people insist that we must protect and respect other species? If they don’t ask that of termites in a house, which destroy our habitat, or a lion meeting a lone wildebeest, why do they expect it of humans? Or should we put predators in jail?

We do in fact have responsibilities to other creatures, and for that reason the animal and plant rights activists who deny a special place for humans are wrong. It is precisely our creation in the image of God that gives us those responsibilities and that distinguishes us from the rest of Creation.

The claim that this is “speciesism,” a moral failing akin to racism, is self-refuting unless those leveling the charge are also willing to say that all other species have the same responsibilities—not just rights—that we do.

Christians have supported animal rights in one sense for centuries. William Wilberforce, the British evangelical who led the fight in Parliament against the slave trade, also was a founder of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. But equating animal rights to human rights is a different issue altogether, and points to a fundamental deterioration in our culture’s understanding of and commitment to the value of human dignity, and with it, to human life itself.

The image of God and the value of life

In Bblical terms, humanity’s unique dignity flows from our creation in God’s image. Since we are God’s regents on the earth, an attack on any human being is tantamount to an attack on God Himself. Thus God tells Noah after the Flood:

Whoever sheds the blood of man,

by man shall his blood be shed,

for God made man in his own image. (Gen. 9:6 ESV)

The justification in this instance for capital punishment was the fact that human beings were made in God’s image. Murderers forfeited their right because of their attack on one of God’s image bearers. That is how seriously God takes human life.

Taking this one step further, since the value of human life flows from the image of God, so does human dignity. And since the image of God is shared by all people, all of us have an intrinsic dignity that is distinct from anything else about us. The supreme value of the image of God far outweighs any other consideration in determining our worth.

Insulting God?

To put it simply, any time you value something more than the image of God in how you think about yourself or others—whether race, sex, class, appearance, age, mental capacity, ability or disability, anything—you are quite literally insulting God to His face.

This includes valuing people on the basis of their religious beliefs. Christians who think they are better than others because of their faith have forgotten the very first element of the Good News: we are all sinners who can bring nothing good to God that would make us worthy of salvation. But what we could not provide for ourselves, God provided for us. Christians thus have no claim to being better than anyone else, and we must insist that all human beings are equally valuable regardless of faith, lifestyle, vices, criminal background, or anything else, because we all share the image of God.

There is therefore never any excuse for any form of bigotry, whether racism, sexism, ageism, ableism, or any of the other “-isms” in our culture. As a result, Christians should be (and historically have been) on the forefront of fights for civil rights.

The image of God and human equality

Let us start by looking at human equality. The apostle Paul tells us that in Christ, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female.” (Gal. 3:28 ESV) All are morally and spiritually equal before God, all equally need salvation, and all share in the same means of salvation. Race, class and gender thus are irrelevant before God.

This emphasis on moral and spiritual equality led Christians to be the first people anywhere in the world to pass laws against slavery, as documented by Rodney Stark.[4] Slavery was condemned as a sin in Aquinas’s Summa Theologica, and when the Europeans tapped into the African slave trade, no fewer than four different popes condemned it.[5] And of course, the British abolition campaign in the late 1700s was led by evangelical Christians, among them William Wilberforce.

Martin Luther King’s leadership in the Civil Rights movement was based on a profound understanding of Christian natural law theory going back at least as far as Thomas Aquinas in the early thirteenth century. King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail is based on just these arguments, anchored in the Christian tradition that recognized both our equality and intrinsic dignity and the importance of an objective moral foundation for law.

Early Christians promoted the rights of children and the unborn as well. In an era in which infanticide was mandated by law for the handicapped and allowed under any circumstances, Christians worked to save babies from death, bringing them into their own households, and petitioned the government to end this legalized murder. Similarly, following the lead of the Jews, they also opposed abortion as murder since it was the taking of a human life made in the image of God.

Christians pioneered rights for women as well. Christianity resulted in a tremendous increase in prestige, opportunity, and freedom for women in ancient Rome, well beyond what had been available to them in the pagan world.[6] We will return to this topic in a later article.

Ultimately, the logic of our creation in the image of God led to the development of the idea of universal human rights. This is a uniquely western concept, built on theories of inalienable rights developed by Medieval Christian theologians from their studies of the Bible. And all of it is founded on the spiritual and moral equality of people in Christ, going back ultimately to our creation in the image of God.

No other culture, religion, or civilization has advanced a comparable idea, because none of them have the worldview foundation for it. Even Jurgen Habermas, the leading public intellectual in Europe and an atheist, points out that modern secular ideas of human rights have their origins in the Judeo-Christian tradition:

Egalitarian universalism, from which sprang the ideas of freedom and social solidarity, of an autonomous conduct of life and emancipation, of the individual morality of conscience, human rights and democracy, is the direct heir of the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love. This legacy, substantially unchanged, has been the object of continual critical appropriation and reinterpretation. To this day, there is no alternative to it. And in light of the current challenges of a postnational constellation, we continue to draw on the substance of this heritage. Everything else is just idle postmodern talk.[7]

All of this obviously just scratches the surface of this issue. But in an era of easy abortion coupled with ultrasounds and genetic testing to determine if the child is worth keeping alive, of designer babies, of calls for legalized euthanasia, and a host of other challenges to human life and worth in our culture, we as Christians need to rediscover and recommit to the centrality of the image of God for determining human value.

For additional insight to this and related topics, order Glenn’s book, Why You Think the Way You Do,from our online store. Or read the article, “Just a Naked Ape?” by Regis Nicoll.

WOD 6-9-12

3 Rounds for time:

7 Clean and Jerk 60 kg Barbell

14 Burpeess

21 KB Swing (American) 16 kg

Olympic Training Center, Finland
Olympic Training Center, Finland

On December 15, 1791, The Bill of Rights was finally ratified by the states. This was a declaration of what the federal government could not do, leaving the states free within the controls of their own constitutions.

The Third Amendment states:
“No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.”

WOD 6-8-12


10 Arm-Bar Stretch to Turkish Get-up combos R/L (24 kg KB)

5 rounds for Time:

10 Handstand Kick-ups (hold handstand for 3-5 seconds) Note: OK to use wall for spotting overbalance.

5 Strict Hanging Leg Raises (legs & arms straight)

3 Headstand presses (from rings- feel free to use bands for assistance/balance)

10 Snatch High-pulls 165 pound barbell


On December 15, 1791, The Bill of Rights was finally ratified by the states. This was a declaration of what the federal government could not do, leaving the states free within the controls of their own constitutions.

The Second Amendment states:
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

WOD 6-7-12

5 Rounds for Time:

500 meter row

2 minutes – Jump Rope

3 minutes – H2H drills (12 or 16 kg) i.e. Practice and master 1-3 H2H drills.  Push yourself.  Go for speed and skill.


On December 15, 1791, The Bill of Rights was finally ratified by the states. This was a declaration of what the federal government could not do, leaving the states free within the controls oftheir own constitutions.

The First Amendment in its entirety, states:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

WOD 6-6-12

5 Rounds For Time:

5 Weighted Pull-ups (24 kg KB)

20 Box Jumps


On July 4, 1837, in a speech celebrating the 61st Anniversary of the signing of the Decaration, John Quincy Adams proclaimed to the inhabitants of the Town of Newburyport:

“Why is it that, next to the birthday of the Savior of the World, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day. Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That if forms a leading event in the Progress of the Gospel dispensation?

Is it not the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon earth?

That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity and gave to the world the first irrevocable pledge of the fulfillment of the prophecies announced directly from Heaven at the birth of the Saviour and predicted by the greatest of the Hebrew prophets 600 years before.”

WOD 6-5-12

7 Rounds for Time:

10 KB Swings (32 kg)

7 Clapping pushups


John Quincy Adams (1767-1848), was the 6th President of the US, son of John Adams, the 2nd President.  He revealed his convictions and philosophy in the following quotations:

“The first and almost the only Book deserving of universal attention is the Bible.”

“I speak as a man of the world to men of the world; and I say to you, Search the Scriptures! The Bible is the book of all others, to be read at all ages, and in all conditions of human life; not to be read once or twice or thrice through,, and then laid aside, but to be read in small portions of one or two chapters every day, and never to be intermitted, unless by some overruling necessity.”

“In what light soever we regard the Bible,, whether with reference to revelation,, to history,, or to maorality,, it is an ivaluable and inexhaustible mine of knowledge and virtue.”

“It is no slight testimonial, both to the merit and worth of Christianity, that in all ages since its promulgation the great mass of those who have risen to eminence by their profound wisdom and integrity have recognized and reverenced Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of the living God.”

“Posterity – you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom.  I hope you will make good use of it.”

WOD 6-4-12

5 Rounds for time:

25 Alternating KB Swings (24 kg)

15 Handstand kick ups (against wall, pause for 2 seconds on top)

5 Weighted pull-ups w/24 kg KB


“… although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools… Who exchanged the truth of God for the lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” Romans 1:21-22, 25.

Day of Rest 6-3-12


Psalms 44:1-8

O God, we have heard with our ears, Our fathers have told us The work that You did in their days, In the days of old.1

You with Your own hand drove out the nations; Then You planted them; You afflicted the peoples, Then You spread them abroad.2

For by their own sword they did not possess the land, And their own arm did not save them, But Your right hand and Your arm and the light of Your presence, For You favored them.3

You are my King, O God; Command victories for Jacob.4

Through You we will push back our adversaries; Through Your name we will trample down those who rise up against us.5

For I will not trust in my bow, Nor will my sword save me.6

But You have saved us from our adversaries, And You have put to shame those who hate us.7

In God we have boasted all day long, And we will give thanks to Your name forever. Selah.8

How to Die Like a Christian Man: A Lesson from the beaches of Normandy

WOD 6-2-12

For Time:

30 TGUs R/L (24 kg)

30 Muscle ups

Note: Keep good form, feel free to scale, if necessary.

Jeff & Fireman Tom, awards ceremony - St. Petersburg, Russia
Jeff & Fireman Tom, awards ceremony – St. Petersburg, Russia

Abigal Adams (1744-1818), wife of john Adams, 2nd President of the USA, and mother of the 6th President, John Quincy Adams.  On November 15, 1775 she wrote:

“A patriot without religion in my estimation is as great a paradox as an honest Man without the fear of God.  Is it possible that he whom no moral obligations bind, can have any real Good Will towards Men?  Can he be a patriot who, by an openly vicious conduct, is undermining the very bonds of Society?…The Scriptures tell us “righteousness exalteth a Nation.”

How to Die Like a Christian Man: A Lesson from the beaches of Normandy

WOD 6-1-12


KB Snatches R/L (24 kg)


Ring Push ups

Target practice at Olympic Training Center - Vierumaki, Finland
Target practice at Olympic Training Center – Vierumaki, Finland

“Give us help from trouble, for the help of man is useless.  Through God we will do valiantly, for it is He who shall tread down our enemies.” – Psalm 60:11-12

The Life of Pedro La Cerda

Please keep Pedro's young family in your prayers.
Please continue to keep Pedro’s young family in your prayers.  It’s hard to believe it’s already been 1 year.

“Here my cry, O God; attend to my prayer.  From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy.  I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.” – Psalms 61:1-8