Yesterday, in my sermon on the sanctity of life from Genesis 9:1-17, I said these words:
Sometimes it can be difficult to see that treating all people with dignity matters. But remembering what it is like to feel undignified helps. Think of how undignified you felt under the care of an overbearing parent or coach, or in comparison to your prettier or smarter sibling or cousin or child of your parents’ best friends. Think of how humiliating living in the broken middle-class home felt, then take away the middle-class part.
Think of the uncertainty you felt in an alcoholic or abusive home and how you wished for someone to see your family’s need for help. That wish was a silent cry to be treated with dignity. Or maybe think of how coming from a Christian home didn’t shield you from mistreatment as you tried to live as your parents prescribed while your friends from Christian homes were not doing the same. Just take away the “Christian” part of feeling mistreatment; it is mistreatment because your dignity as a person was being trumped by your friends’ despising of the Christian faith. You wanted them to see you as a person who should not be the object of ridicule. Everyone else wants that too.
“Dignity” extends beyond the womb. It extends to the impetus behind the #MeToo movement and #BlackLivesMatter. Dignity is a key issue with every unprocessed rape kit, every child in a foster care system in need of a home, every person over fifty who should still be considered a valued member of a company even though a senior-citizen in the eyes of society, and every Middle-Easterner wrongly ethnically profiled. Dignity – the image of God in humans – is at stake in our treatment of every student who under-performs academically in school, every person standing in court who cannot afford legal counsel but needs just legal representation and due process as much as those with lawyers on retainers, every person trying to cross our border illegally, every refugee risking life in a raft to get to a country that is safe, every person holding a sign that says, “I’m hungry.”