Restoring Human Dignity

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. -Genesis 1:27

There is a growing crisis in America that is beginning to become “normalized.” It is manifesting itself in the dehumanizing political rhetoric we hear everyday and also in the gun violence that seems to play out on a near weekly basis in some city, school, church, store or location around the United States. What in the world is happening in this culture that has brought us to this point? How do we see real change?

There probably is no one easy solution, but there is a total inability for even any solution to be considered because it always turns into “political talking points” on both sides.

I believe at the heart of these issues is something captured and documented in a book I just read called The Lucifer Effect. One of my biggest take-a way’s was that once one group of people began to “dehumanize” another group of people, it is all downhill from there and has horrifying consequences. From Nazi Germany, to the Rwanda Genocide, to the treatment of prisoners, to racism, to abortion, to the current attitude and treatment of immigrates, to gun violence today…it all begins with seeing people as something less than human beings created in the image of God. This then opens wide the door to a culture and system that justifies the mistreatment and/or murder of various people.

We have lost all respect for human life and the sacredness of each person being created in the image of God regardless of our differences. We label certain groups and turn them into “issues” instead of human beings. We turn people into political talking points. For example, the plight of immigrants gets turned into an “immigration issue.” They are labeled as “rapists and criminals.” Babies in the womb are labeled as “fetuses” instead of human beings. And so rhetoric, prejudice, violence and murder are justified.

We need to start seeing one another as people created in the image of God, not problems that must go away. We need a sense of the sacredness of human life to create a sense of respect for one another regardless of differences. We need to see each other as real human beings instead of dehumanizing, labeling or grouping everyone together in categories that justify our attitudes and actions that disrespect and dishonor the image of God in every human being. And that is ultimately what this is: an attack on God himself.

Jesus was clear that his disciples are to be known and recognized for their love for one another; not just those exactly like us. Our call is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and love others as we love ourselves…even more so than “love for country.” A country is made up of people created in the image of God. It is idolatry to place “country” ahead of neighbor’s. And it is impossible to claim we love God if we do not love one another.

The apostle John made this quite clear, especially in 1 John 4:19-21, We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

C.S. Lewis famously once put it this way that should give us cause to pause in our dealings with one another: It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.

Let’s get back to seeing the sacredness of every human being we interact with, talk to or about, and act towards.