Embryos, Human Cloning, and the Image of God

Last fall the House of Representatives passed a ban on any human cloning. The Senate, which failed to act in the fall, will debate a similar bill soon. Meanwhile, last Thanksgiving, Advanced Cell Technologies (ACT) announced that they had cloned a human. They and others are now mounting a massive public relations campaign to prevent the Senate from passing a ban. The future is here. The question of what it means to be human is at stake, and Christians must take the lead in upholding the value and dignity of all human life from conception to old age. In Genesis 1:26 God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." We are made in the image of God. Ask an adult Bible study group what it means to be made in God's image, and they will probably reply with things like: We are creative; we can speak; we are rational; we are spiritual. All those things are true, but they are secondary to the core meaning of our being made in God's image. Dr. Richard Pratt, professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary points out that Moses and the people of Israel would have heard the phrase "image of God" as a reference to the rule of a king. When an ancient king conquered a new land, he would order artisans to fashion statues -- images -- of himself to be placed throughout that newly conquered land. These served as a constant reminder to everyone of who was king. The Soviets did the same thing when they placed statues of Lenin in every town square throughout the USSR. Everyone could see who was in charge. God did the same thing when he created humans. Dr. Pratt writes, "The expression 'image of God' designated human beings as representatives of the supreme King of the universe." Adam's and Eve's very existence proclaimed to people, birds, fish, livestock, one another, and even the angels that God rules the world. When he commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply -- to procreate -- he commanded that every part of his world be filled with his image, living proof that He rules everywhere and over everything. What does that have to do with human cloning? Everything. Human value and dignity don't depend on what we can do or what we have the potential to do. An embryo has value and dignity. Why? Not because she will be able to talk someday and, thus, reflect the image of God. Her value and dignity come from her being human and, thus, made in God's image. The very fact she exists gives her value and dignity and entitles her to protection and life. Human cloning creates an embryonic human being -- someone in the image of God -- for one purpose only. The embryonic human being is killed and "disaggregated" -- a polite way of saying, "pulled to pieces for medical purposes." It is barbaric, borders on the cannibalistic, and must be banned. I hope you'll call your senators. Do so right now, and urge them to vote for a total ban on human cloning.   Take action: Urge your senator to cosponsor the Brownback-Landrieu total human cloning ban, S. 1899. To contact your U.S. Senators, call the Capitol Switchboard at 202- 224-3121. For further reading and information: The Bioethics in the New Century Resource Kit will give you an overview of the biotechnology issues we face today. Visit the Council for Biotechnology website. To receive the Biotech Policy Update e-newsletter, send your request to


Chuck Colson


  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary