What is the biblical basis for human dignity?
As a Christian I do not believe that human beings have intrinsic dignity. I am totally committed to the idea that human beings have dignity, but the question is, Is it intrinsic or extrinsic?
Dignity, by biblical definition, is tied to the biblical concept of glory. God’s glory, his weightiness, his importance, his significance, is what the Bible uses to describe the fountainhead of all dignity. And only God has eternal value and intrinsic (that is, in and of himself) significance. I am a creature—I come from the dust. The dust isn’t all that significant, but I become significant when God scoops up that dust and molds it into a human being and breathes into it the breath of life and says, “This creature is made in my image.” God assigns eternal significance to temporal creatures. I don’t have anything in me that would demand that God treat me with eternal significance. I have eternal significance and eternal worth because God gives it to me.
And not only does he give it to me but he gives it to every human being. That’s why in the Bible the great commandment not only deals with our relationship with God but our relationships with human beings. “Thou shalt love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your might, and with all your strength . . . and your neighbor as much as you love yourself,” because God has endowed every human creature with value.
©1996 by R.C. Sproul. Used by permission of Tyndale.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. ©1982 by Thomas Nelson.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.