Living Honorably; Acting Humanly

Rooted in the Imago Dei

God honors the work, the crowning achievement, of his own creation, making a human being most like himself (cf. Genesis 1:26-27). The Greek translation of the Jewish Scriptures, which is called “the Septuagint,” says that the human person is an eikon (εἰκών). The word “icon,” which is derived from the Greek word, means “a sacred work of art.” The most sacred image in all of creation is not an inanimate object, a work of art, but an animate subject, a human being. The Latin term imago Dei, which is equivalent in meaning to the Greek word, is “image of God.”

Now, even if I may not know the religious background to human dignity, I know in my inner being, that I am a human. In other words, I sense within myself that I am different from a rock, stone, piece of wood, an insect or even an animal. I sense, then, that I am different from everything else, being a unique kind of creature.

My point is that it is an honor, the highest form of dignity of all the creatures of the earth, to be human. Theologically speaking, a human being is a little lower than the angels, not a little higher than the animals (cf. Psalm 8:5). That is also why human beings are at their best, when their behavior ascends, not descends; when they are behaving like angels, not animals.

However, at times, it can be a challenge to act like as a human being. In acting contrary to being human, a person degrades or dishonors himself or herself, lowering his or her dignity. Conversely, in acting humanly, a person lives honorably, ennobling himself or herself. The dignity of being human shines through his or her life.

Therefore, by a person’s choices, he or she can either promote or demote his or her dignity. Act, then, according to being human, not contrary to it.