Human dignity is the same for all human beings: when I trample on the dignity of another, I am trampling on my own.
We look for dignity particularly in our leaders, our teachers, our mentors, our parents—anyone who shows us the way.
June 18, 2021
The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 5 urging the Corinthians to consider the way they practice their sexuality. Richard Rohr writes that this isn’t some “finger-pointing” moralistic judgment by Paul, but actually is intended to move the Corinthians toward greater respect and dignity in the way they relate to one another:
“Who does not want to be told they are worthy and good? Who does not want their social shame taken away? No longer was the human body a cheap thing, degraded by slavery, or sexual, verbal, and physical abuse. Paul is saying, “You are the very temple of God.” Scholars now believe this is Paul’s supreme and organizing idea. Such an unexpected affirmation of human dignity began to turn the whole Roman Empire around…”
The late Bishop Desmond Tutu understood our interdependence with each other as part of what it means to live in the image of God:
God has created us, upholding us in being from moment to moment, providing us with our very existence. . . . Despite everything that conspires to deny this truth, each one of us is of immense worth, of infinite value because God loved us. That is why [God] created us. Thus our value is intrinsic to who we are. It comes with the package of being human. It depends neither on extrinsic attributes such as ethnicity and skin color nor on our achievement, however that may be computed. Our worth stems from the fact that we exist only because of the divine love.
. . . [Richard Rohr: As Bishop Tutu told me when I met him, “We are only the light bulbs, Richard, and our job is just to remain screwed in!”]
We are each a God-carrier, a tabernacle of the Holy Spirit, indwelt by God the holy and most blessed Trinity.
To treat one such as less than this is not just wrong. . . . It is veritably blasphemous and sacrilegious. It is as if we were to spit in the face of God. Consequently injustice, racism, exploitation, oppression are to be opposed not as a political task but as a response to a religious, a spiritual imperative. Not to oppose these manifestations of evil would be tantamount to disobeying God.
God has created us for interdependence as God has created us in God’s image—the image of a divine fellowship of the holy and blessed Trinity. . . God has created us to be different in order that we can realize our need of one another. There is an African idiom: “A person is a person through other persons.” I learn how to be human through association with other human beings. . . .