Thursday, Jan 23, 2020. When is something “right”? When is something exactly the way it should be? Of course you need a template to talk about something being right. You need a goal or target, you can meet. You need some description of what it should be.
What about humans? Can they be “right”? We could talk about actions. Actions can be right if they carry out what should be done. They can be ok or right if they are within some well-formulated limits. If they obey the rules. If they are ethical, meaning they do what is within some formulated ethics.
Dignity of Human Life …
Is it possible to say something about when human life is right? Can we say about someone that he or her would not be right? Something seems to be difficult with this. Indeed, we will object any statement that tries to diminish the inherent value of human life! The dignity of a human is given as a core value. It shall not be violated!
When we look into history, and when we look around on this planet, the dignity of humans is violated in so many places. It is humans that violate the dignity of humans. Many people violate their own dignity, and the dignity of others. It is a topic by its own to observe and analyse how dignity of a human is violated. Here, let us first stay within the full line of reasoning.
We formulated a demand, a command, a basic ethical rule. The dignity of humans shall not be violated! At the same time, when we formulate this rule, we will realize that humans violate dignity. We violate our own dignity, and that of other people. Perhaps this is not clear to us immediately, but when you investigate your own life, you will quickly realize that you are doing it, on a daily basis. To some extent we are destroying ourselves, by violating our own dignity.
When we violate the dignity of a human, we are not doing well. We do wrong. Doing wrong violates our own dignity. We hurt ourselves, and others as well, of course. Does doing wrong destroy our dignity? No and yes at the same time. It is an act of destruction. But the inherent dignity of a human cannot be destroyed by his or her actions.
God's Holiness …
What is good for a human? What is the source and goal of human dignity? Another way to phrase the question is what “holiness” means. The origin of the Hebrew phrase for it means “different” or “separated”. In other languages the word is associated with healing and purity.
Holiness in the biblical framework is a word describing the character of God. Its meaning is filled with truthfulness, faithfulness, love, purity, friendliness and dedication. When you try to fill holiness or goodness or “being right” with content, the Sermon on the Mount as written in Matthew 5 is a good place to look for it. Here, Jesus himself describes how humans should act and be. We hear, for example:
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. 10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5, 5-10)
Jesus is giving holiness an expression. He is doing so by his words and preaching. But he is also doing so by his life, by all what he is and does. He is called the Holy One in the biblical books. The claim of the New Testament is that Jesus was holy throughout his life. He was meek. He thirsted for righteousness - not only for him but for all humans. He was merciful. He was pure in heart. He was a peacemaker: his death brings peace with God to all, who believe. He was persecuted for righteousness. His is the kingdom of heaven.
It is an exciting thing to explore the dignity of humans, and the holiness of Jesus. They are linked to each other, since the dignity of each and every human comes from the creator, who made and is making each of us. Since he wants us, since he put his love and character into our life, we receive a dignity far beyond the physical and mental material which constitutes our body and soul. (Roland Potthast)
This is part of the trilogy project “Faith of a Scientist”.