By John A. Smith
The Human Distinction (1)
Modern science tells man that he is nothing more than the product of a cosmic accident. We are simply a more highly developed animal whose most ancient ancestors were swamp slugs that somehow ended up swinging from tree branches.
The Bible presents a much more respectful and honorable picture of man. It is one which demands that our behavior be much better than that of animals. The Bible presents a picture of man that displays a clear distinction between animal life and human life.
The “Human Distinction” is based upon our being made in the image of God. When God created man He said, “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. . . So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen. 1:26-27). As David pondered man’s creation and existence he asked: “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor” (Psa. 8:4-5). That is quite an honor! Image someone telling you that your basketball skills are just a little below that of Michael Jordan (or Larry Bird if you really appreciate talent). Would you feel honored? Of course you would. Well, how about being made just a little lower than the angels? Man was created by God with a special, honorable nature.
When Noah departed from the ark, God gave him and his family a few simple instructions. In Genesis 9:3-6 they were told that they could eat any animal, but they could not eat the meat with the blood still in it. They were strictly forbidden from eating humans. Why? It is because of the sanctity of human life that is not shared by the rest of creation.
As humans we are special, distinct from the animal kingdom, higher than the animals, and the objects of more love, grace and mercy.
Young people need to be impressed with the reality that they are higher than animals. They are encouraged in Ecclesiastes 12:1 to “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, I have no pleasure in them.” Remember that you were created in the image of God and are not simply the result of an ancient accident in some primeval swamp. You are distinct and superior to the rest of creation. This distinction should have a profound effect upon your behavior.
What The Human Distinction Provides Us
The human distinction grants us the ability to reason. As humans we have the ability to think logically and process information. We are not driven by brute instinct. The Lord recognized this ability when he called upon Israel to “Come now, let us reason together” (Isa. 1: 18). We can think before we act. Sadly, not all young people (or older folks for that matter) use this important God-given ability.
We are not driven by brute instinct to mate. We insult ourselves and degrade ourselves when we act like a beast in the field that mates at certain times of the year without giving any thought to what he is doing.
Young people, don’t let sex cause your brains to turn to mush or cease to function. This reminds me of a “Woody Woodpecker” cartoon that I saw several years ago. Woody was sitting on a tree limb happily drilling a hole in the side of a tree when a girl woodpecker landed on the tree next to him (you can tell she’s a girl by the long eyelashes and pink bow in her feathers!) Immediately Woody’s eyes pop out of his head and turn to hearts while his brain falls out! Have you ever known someone like this? You know – the person who seems to lose all reason when it comes to the opposite sex?
We are not brute beasts or mush-brained woodpeckers! We have been created in the image of God with the ability to reason. Let’s make sure that we use it.
As a result of being rational creatures, we have the ability to make choices. Joshua understood this when he told Israel to “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Josh. 24:15). He recognized that individually the people of Israel had a free will. To serve Jehovah or the false gods of the land was their choice. They would not be forced against their will or driven by brute instinct to worship and serve Jehovah.
In regard to sexual activity, we likewise have the ability to make choices. Young people are not driven by some internal primitive instinct to mate. If sexually active, it is because they choose to do so. T~ey have the ability to resist the lusts of the flesh and make choices that are spiritually and physically wise and healthy. In addition young people have the comfort of knowing that they will not be tempted beyond what they have the ability to resist (1 Cor. 10: 13 read it, mediate upon it and take hope!).
. Parents, we need to recognize that our young people will be making their own sexual choices. We cannot be with them every minute of every day. Before we turn our children loose behind the wheel of an automobile, we make sure that they know the rules of the road. They must demonstrate some proficiency in the operation of an automobile. Before we turn our young people loose on the world, let’s make sure that they understand the problems that can arise from sexual activity and are prepared to make the good, healthy and wise choice of pre-marital sexual abstinence. While we cannot be with them every minute of every day and make every decision for them, we can instill the values and morals upon which these choices will be made.
Having the ability to reason and make choices results in our having the ability to practice self-control. Animals don’t have that ability. Among God’s creation, it resides solely with mankind. When Marvin, the bull, catches the scent of a cow in heat, he instinctively pursues the cow and mates. Driven by instinct, he can’t help himself.
Although many young people act like Marvin, they do have the ability to regulate their own sexual behavior. In fact, God expects that young and old alike control their behavior. Among those described and condemned in 1 Timothy 3:15 are those who are “without self-control.” Every call in the New Testament for sobriety is a call for self-control (see Tit. 2:12). As parents we need to see that there is more talk of self-control than birth-control. Our young people need to recognize their ability to control their own sexual thoughts and actions being trained and encouraged to do so.
Self-control doesn’t demand that we turn away from everything that has to do with our sexuality. It simply means that we operate according to the “rules of the road.” We leave sexual gratification where God placed it – in marriage (Heb. 13:4).
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 5, pp. 134, 150
March 7, 1991