Lift Up Your Hearts: Human Dignity

I am not sure that it is possible to over-stress the dignity and value of every human life.

This is especially true when we contemplate what God decided to do in order that humanity could once again have access to the divine life that He created us to enjoy. Not only did He create us in His image, but also God sent His only Son, Jesus, who showed us how to live as brothers and sisters and, most importantly, gave His life in a brutal death to save us from our sins. If God the Father did all that to prove His love for every human life, why do we take up arms against one another? We are living in a climate today where there is so much hatred, so much violence, so much cruelty, people are at each other’s throats over the issues of racism and whether or not one supports the police. It seems that everyone wants to corner us into one camp or another.

We easily get offended by people if they don’t agree with us. I find this extremely dangerous, unloving and unhelpful since God loves every human life that He created. There is no human life that we can say does not have value or dignity. There is no human life that can be thrown away, yet we do this every day. We marginalize groups of people and races in our minds. We look at the world through our self-centered blinders that make us treat others as less than ourselves. We put ourselves on pedestals and believe that we can dictate and decide who’s life has value and who’s does not.

In the Letter to the Philippians the Lord speaks to us stating “Brothers and sisters: If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also for those of others” (Philippians 2:1-4). This is such a countercultural message, especially the idea that we should put others and their interests ahead of our own.

This takes us back to the golden rule, “do unto others what you would have them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12). If you show your love for others through selfless service, and begin to treat others with dignity and respect, then you promote human flourishing as a whole. We do this because every human being is made in the image and likeness of God and because we know deep dow that it is the right thing to do. The people that we serve and show love to will hopefully experience a greater peace that comes from feeling respected and cared for. The hope is that it spreads and that all begin to act in a similar manner. Whether we are treated in the same way or not, I think we will find that when we serve others and even die to self to show love we will feel more fulfilled personally. This is because we are fulfilling our calling to be a gift for others. Did you know that God made you a gift? Did you know that every human life is a sacred gift?

Jesus came to restore order to the whole universe and we, the human race, were His first love. In the creation stories in the Bible, the Lord God creates humanity as the crown of creation. In a sense, we are what all of the rest of creation was made for. Of course, that means that we have to care for our home. The Lord gave Adam and Eve dominion over all of creation. In creating them, He said “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.

So God created man in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” (Gen. 1:26-28). Humanity is the only species of creation that is made in God’s image and likeness. What this means for God is that human life takes top priority.

We too should place the dignity of human life as our top priority as well. In our sinful broken world there are so many major moral issues that we need to address in order that all human life is given the dignity that God gave it. I think it’s so important to begin with the most marginalized: the unborn, the elderly, those on death row, the poor, the refugee, the imprisoned, the immigrant, those persecuted or mistreated because of race, religion, gender or social class etc. Looking at this list it becomes apparent that these issues transcend the political environment of our culture. We really do need to be complete in our support of human life and dignity, and work together to bring an end to all evils and attacks against human life.

With all of this in mind, I encourage all of you to shift your heart toward civility, love and kindness as we navigate all of the negativity that we are bombarded with on a daily basis through the news, social media and politics. At the top of our minds should always be the reminder that every life deserves respect, every life carries value. God loves all of us, He created all of us in His image and He desires each of us to share divine life with Him forever. He reminds us that “whatsoever you do to the least of these my brothers you do unto me” (Matthew 25:40). Let us give to each person the dignity that God has given them.