Article  Human Dignity  Human Rights

Why human dignity shapes our public activism

This is the latest ERLC End-of-Year update as part of our RISE Campaign.

The Christian concept of human dignity–that each person is created in the image of God and has worth assigned, not by their utility, but by their creator–shapes and informs the way we engage contentious issues in the public square.

We work for laws that recognize the life of the unborn, not as part of a political agenda, but because we believe what the Bible tells us about unborn persons. They are not clumps of tissue, but people worthy of dignity and life.

We work for laws that protect the consciences of religious minorities, even those with whom we disagree, because people were not created in the state, but in the image of God. State-coerced religion undermines the personhood of the individual.

We work for laws that recognize the dignity of immigrants and refugees, because they are more than people groups or faceless masses, but people created in the image of God.

We work for laws to protect the elderly. In a society that increasingly sees the aged and infirm or terminally ill as burdensome, we say that elderly people always have inherent dignity, despite their perceived utility.

We work against predatory economic industries that prey on the vulnerable through gambling or payday lending practices, because the poor are not merely ATMs from which money can be squeezed, but whole persons with dignity.

We speak out against sexual predation of women and children because women and children are not mere objects for gratification, but whole persons with dignity and worth.

We work to fight drug addiction because addiction assaults the dignity of image-bearers, holding them captive to destructive substances.

We even engage in robust arguments and difficult policy debates with dignity, recognizing that our ideological opponents are not avatars to be crushed, but people created in the image of God.

Most of all we work to equip the church of Jesus Christ who conquered sin, death and the grave and who offers in himself reconciliation to the Creator. The Gospel fully restores us to our image-bearing purposes. We both fight for religious liberty that honors the conscience and creates the space for the gospel to advance and we equip pastors and church leaders to apply the gospel to a changing culture.

Applying the doctrine of the image of God to our public activism allows us to fully love our neighbors as ourselves by speaking up for their welfare whenever their dignity is being assaulted. It helps us transcend parties and movements and allows us to steward well our influence in the halls of power, in the public square, and in the church.

Help us multiply our efforts in the public square. Consider making a tax-deductible end-of-year gift to the ERLC today.

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