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The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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What Makes Us Valuable?

Trigger warning: This article makes reference to abortion.

I was captured by a news story this week about a woman named Heidi Carter. Ms  Carter, who has Down’s syndrome, is bringing a legal challenge against a UK law that she perceives as ‘deeply offensive’ and ‘discriminatory’. The law permits children with Down’s or other disabilities such as cleft palate or club feet to be aborted anytime up to birth. ‘I will not tolerate it’ she stated. ‘That someone like me or [my husband] James could be aborted just before birth is just not on.’  

As I read Ms Carter’s story, I tried to imagine how injurious to one’s sense of self-worth it must be to know that your society’s laws do not protect the life of unborn children who are just like you. And the more I thought about that, the more I found myself marvelling at Ms Carter’s bravery and resilience.  

What is it that makes any life – Ms Carter’s, yours, or mine included – valuable?  

In the pre-Christian ancient world, people did not assume all people were equally valuable. Slavery and infanticide, for example, were accepted as normal. Even the great moral philosopher Aristotle believed that women and slaves were naturally inferior. The Bible’s teaching that all human beings are valuable because all are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and because Christ died for all (2 Corinthians 5:15) was truly revolutionary. 

Motivated by these truths, Christians throughout the centuries fought infanticide, abortion on demand, child labour, and slavery; promoted access to education, political freedom, and social justice; and pioneered hospitals, orphanages, and law reform.  

Interestingly, the British historian Niall Ferguson tweeted this week about the growing belief among leading intellectual atheists, himself included, that our society’s hard-fought and cherished freedoms cannot long endure unless we return to the Christian faith that nourished those freedoms in the first place. As our society continues to drift away from its Christian moorings, we should be just as concerned as some of our atheist friends are about the direction it is headed. We should also be just as forthright as they are about the uniquely good news and solid foundation that Christian faith offers all who passionately believe, as Heidi Carter and countless others do, that every human being is inestimably valuable and worth protecting.  

‘“Truly I tell you”, Jesus said, “whatever you did for one of the least [i.e. most needy and vulnerable] of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”’  (Matthew 25:40) 


Simon Edwards 
Simon is a former lawyer and now speaker and writer at the OCCA. His new book The Sanity of Belief is out now.  


  1. Thank you for a fascinating piece. Really interesting!

    By William Lowries  -  9 Jul 2021
  2. important to say & well said

    By Bruce Gulland  -  9 Jul 2021
  3. How can we get behind Heidis campaign?

    By David Ricketts  -  9 Jul 2021
  4. All life is precious, one of the problems is the medics calling the unborn baby featus which incidentally means little one in Latin. Not valuing the life growing within for what ever reason is so sad more should be done to help women who feel that that don’t want the life growing in them.

    By Janette Gulleford  -  9 Jul 2021
  5. Just reading Back to Emmaus which points out that the disillusioned Cleopas and friend return joyfully to Jerusalem after meeting the risen Lord. Perhaps the tide is turning and society is reappopriating the value of life from Gen 1. We Christians need to continue the Great Commission the euangelion so that more turn (repent) and believe.

    By Janice Roberts  -  23 Jul 2021

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