What is the value of a human life from God’s perspective? Try the following exercise to get students thinking about the position of their established base values. This not only helps them to think in a broader sense, but can be a defining exercise in validating (or not) their own values.
Give each student a piece of paper so that they can write their initial impression and answer for the following discussion. Here’s the scenario to give them: A woman is trapped in a burning house. Her children have escaped, but her husband has not survived the fire. Two men are passing by. One is the father of two children; the other is single. Both hear the woman screaming for help from the upper level of the house which is already engulfed in flames. Assuming that there are no others at the scene, which man should help her? Why? Write your answers now.
Most students will think in the traditional sense, saying that the single man is the one who should risk his life to save the woman, thereby leaving the father of two to return to his family. Ask for other answers they wrote. Now ask them to add these possibilities about the two men and the woman in the burning house to their thinking:
1. The father of two is a drunk who beats his children and his wife. His family is financially destitute because of his drinking. His wife owns a million dollar life insurance policy on this man.
2. The single man is the sole support and care of his invalid mother.
3. The woman in the house is a prostitute; the man was never her husband and the two children are illegitimate. The children are old enough to know about their mother’s occupation and desire to be in another home.
4. The single man is also President of the United States.
The list could go on and on, but you get the idea. Do any of these scenarios change your initial answer? What does Scripture say about the value of one life over another? What does your answer tell you about your preconceived ideas of the value of a human life? God is no respecter of persons; He values each life as one He died for and that may be the hardest lesson for us to apply.