What determines a person’s worth

By looking at the role of human dignity, Infinite value helps us understand what determines a person’s worth. The newly released document places human dignity as the foundation of what constitutes appropriate and inappropriate human behavior. By doing this, the Church shows that she is mater and magistra, mother and teacher. Parents essentially do two things for their children. They express unconditional love and provide instructions on the differences between good and bad behavior. The recent papal reigns of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis as a balancing act between these two parental roles.

After establishing the philosophical and theological foundations of “infinite human dignity” in the first few paragraphs, the paper then traces the development of the concept of human dignity in classical, Biblical, Christian, and contemporary thought.

St. Peter's Dome against the Italian sky
St. Peter’s in Rome represents the Catholic Church | Courtesy:

Dignity in classical thought

In classical thought, dignity is a central theme, but this varies depending on one’s position in life. Dignity was part of the fabric of society and helped individuals understand their relationship to the whole. However, this classical way of thinking lacked an innate sense of dignity for every human person. Because dignity was related to position in life, all social interactions were guided by the relative worthiness of the respective parties rather than by an assumed assessment of true individual worth.

Biblical view of dignity

The Biblical view of human dignity offers a significant contrast because it is grounded in the fact that we are created in the image and likeness of God. If dignity comes from the fact that God was created by God, it follows that dignity is infinite and equally present in all human beings, just as God is infinite and omnipresent. God’s act of creation places man within the context of all that exists. God gives all people an equal footing in dignity. In God’s original plan, the distinction between male and female does not even indicate a distinction in dignity. Sexual difference allows humanity to make God present in a more complete way. There is no suggestion that one gender is superior to the other; rather, Genesis presents the two genders as complementary.

In their relationship of equality and mutual love, both man and woman represent God in the world and are also called to cherish and cherish the world. (Infinite value11)

Dignity of both men and women

Neither man nor woman alone could present the fullness of the attributes of God the Creator. Together, God calls them to cherish and cherish the world. He sets out a Biblical reflection on humanity’s role in relation to nature, as discussed in Pope Francis’ encyclical: Laudato Si’.

When the authors of the Old Testament reflected on human dignity, they set out and formed the first theories of human rights

manifesto of human dignity, especially in favor of the threefold category of the orphan, the widow and the stranger (Infinite value11).

The Biblical view of these categories of people contrasted with the rest of ancient society. This worldview predicts that a more humane morality will emerge in the world.

Born and raised in humble circumstances, Jesus reveals the dignity of the needy and those who work. Then, throughout his public ministry, he affirms the worth and dignity of all who bear the image of God, regardless of their social status and external circumstances. Jesus broke cultural and cultic barriers and restored the dignity of those who were “rejected” or considered on the margins of society.Infinite value11).

Universal role of Jesus

This is a beautiful description of Jesus and makes clear why he is a Savior for all nations and not just for one group or race. He showed by example how he could break cultural barriers to meet the people of his time. He saw value in every person.

Continuation of Christian thinking about dignity

Christian thought further developed the idea of ​​human dignity and reached a certain climax in the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas. As such, we can view human dignity as a synthesis of medieval thinking about what a ‘person’ is.

St. Thomas Aquinas testified to this when he affirmed that “person” means that which is most perfect in all nature – that is, an existing individual with a rational nature” (Infinite value13).

Christian thought continued to develop and left its mark, even with modern thinkers such as Kant and Descartes. In the current era we see that dignity is “used primarily to emphasize the uniqueness of the human person, incomparable to all other entities in the universe” (Dignitas infinity, 14). It is in this sense that the term appears in United Nations documents, especially the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Beyond personal gifts and qualities

Dignity does not depend on personal gifts or qualities; If that were the case, authorities or others could revoke anyone’s dignity at any time. This would only be a conditional dignity and not worth much in the human rights debate. If we can recognize a growing awareness of the inherent human dignity of each individual, we owe much of it to the Biblical worldview and the resulting Christian writings on this great reality.

The Church is both mother and teacher. She is always concerned about the well-being of her children and that of the entire world. She recognizes value in each of God’s creatures and does her best to defend it.

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