Every person is a child of God and, as such, has inherent dignity. God’s purpose for each one of us is the context for understanding the true meaning of human dignity. We exist to discover Him and draw close to Him and live by His Word. The farther we are from God, the less dignity we possess and project ourselves and nurture and embrace in others.
Personal comportment, decorum and politeness are secular and nice but superficial forms of dignity – virtuous expressions useful for orderly social interactions, but they do not represent its essence. Neither do modern platitudes about “respect for diversity.” Honoring human dignity is not about accepting and respecting any and every human expression or behavior a person claims for him or her self.
The Good Samaritan was filled with dignity and, more over, saw the dignity in the injured man regardless of any differences between the two men. Jesus saw the inherent dignity of the adulteress and his admonishment to her – go and sin no more – is how human dignity is applied divinely. Likewise, Jesus’s counsel to the rich young man, to sell all he had, acknowledged the young man’s humanity – that the young man refused His counsel lacked dignity.
Today’s “political correctness” is an attack on human dignity. It objectifies and denigrates mortal differences in pharisaical fashion. It is a false god ordering, not counseling, imperfect humans to political and ideological perfections. Activist sinners – those who champion sinful behaviors – behave the same way. They err in mistaking tolerance for sin as an expression of human dignity.
Divinity is the essence of dignity. Human dignity exists in and through our humble recognition that we are children of God and applies in our circumstances only as we conform our lives to the will of the Father and Author of our existence.