Instinctively we all feel that human life matters. We cringe when we hear of a new act of violence. We are horrified when we read of crippling poverty. We want to help the least fortunate. But why? What is it about humanity that matters?
I believe the Christian story gives us the richest, fullest expression of what it means to be human. This is especially important in an age when people are asking what this means and, in an age, when human dignity is assaulted through war, famine, violence, abortion, racism and other sins. Christians should care about human dignity. Here are five reasons why:
The Bible gives a rich description of what it means to be human. The opening pages of Scripture make the radical declaration that, of all of God’s beautiful creation, we are his most prized creation. Moses takes great care to describe the way God crafted humans from the dust of the ground and breathed into humans the breath of life. And David, in Psalm 139, describes the intricate way in which God’s crafts every human life in the womb.
God has created each human in his image for his glory. Genesis tells us that humans reflect God. We were created after his image. This means humans have intrinsic value and worth. Humans were made by God with purpose, to both imitate him by ruling over creation and filling the earth with his glory.
God loved humans so much he sent Jesus to rescue us from sin, death, and Satan. When Adam and Eve, the first humans, rejected God’s rule and listened to the serpent, sin corrupted our humanity and caused humans to turn violently against each other and against God. But God sent Jesus as the Second Adam to redeem our humanity and restore us to our image-bearing purposes.
Jesus came to earth as a human, in the most vulnerable way possible, showing us that being human is good. Jesus is both fully God and fully human. His incarnation tells us that God’s creation of humans was good. In his life, he showed us what it means to be fully human. In his death, he exemplified sacrifice and surrender, and in his resurrection he defeated, sin, death and the grave.
God calls his redeemed image-bearers to glorify him by standing up for the dignity of the most vulnerable. If we are to obey Jesus, who call us to love our neighbor as ourselves, we must speak up for our neighbors whose dignity and humanity is often violently assaulted. Every generation faces attacks on dignity and this time is no different, from abortion to euthanasia to the way in which we dehumanize immigrants and refugees.
Daniel Darling is the author of the new book, The Dignity Revolution: Reclaiming God’s Rich Vision for Humanity.