Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Cost of the Loss of Dignity

 The Jewish rabbi and moral philosopher, Abraham Heschel, speaking of mankind notes that
 “The cardinal problem is not the survival of religion, but the survival of man.  What is required is a continuous effort to overcome hardness of heart, callousness, and above all to inspire the world with the biblical image of man, not to forget that man without God is a torso, to prevent the dehumanization of man.  For the opposite of human is not the animal.  The opposite of human is the demonic.” 
Having escaped Warsaw, Poland just six weeks before the Nazis began their extermination of the European Jews, he mused that “I am a brand plucked from the fire of an altar of Satan on which millions of human lives were exterminated to evil’s greater glory…”  Nazism continued the process begun with the Enlightenment to exterminate Judaism, Christianity and the Bible from society.  Although it ultimately failed, the process continues today in academia’s, the media’s and Hollywood’s portrayal of Christianity as laughable, something to be scorned and done away with.  The derision and scorn heaped upon Tim Tebow during the Denver Bronco’s somewhat miraculous 2011 season point to how much Christianity is despised in media circles.  Bill Maher was quoted in Newsweek stating “Plain fact is, religion must die for mankind to live. The hour is getting very late to be able to indulge in having key decisions made by religious people.”  He likens the decisions made by religious people to the reading of entrails.

The loss of religion in decision making inevitably leads to depersonalization.  Mankind is seen as merely a cog in a great social machine.  His value is tied to his worth.  People without worth, such as the elderly, those with special needs, etc. have no value and can be cast aside.

Those who discount Christianity, have also done away with the Christian worldview of the nature of man.  Though fallen, there still remains in mankind the vestigial image of God.  Though a poor reflection of what was originally intended, it still remains.  This gives all people, whatever their race, creed, status, age or condition, dignity which must be affirmed and preserved.  One of the churches’ Mission should be to see that everyone’s dignity is affirmed.  As our modern world turns away from human dignity, this may prove to be the place where Christianity will see its greatest opportunity for advance in the twenty-first century.

 Heschel’s assertion that the loss of human dignity ushers in the demonic is worthy of consideration.  Satan’s goal is to destroy the image which God has placed in us.  His continual attempts to persuade us that we are mere animals through the view that we are merely an evolutionary by-product, through the callousness of abortion, through the utilitarian viewpoint that the aged and disabled are expendable, causes modern man’s view of dignity to fade over time.  Dignity is further lessened as relationships are destroyed, for dignity requires being in relationship with both God and our fellow man.  This loss of relationship is seen in the tragedies of divorce, particularly when women and their children are left destitute, and in spousal abandonment.  In each case relationships are destroyed and the persons cast off are left questioning their own worth.
God desires that we be in relationship with Him and each other.  He created us for that purpose, giving us dignity.  But for many, living in this disruptive, squalid world, dignity has been lost.  Part of the restoration with God involves the restoration of the  human person.  Are you willing to fight for human dignity?

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