My faith tradition believes that God still speaks–both to us individually and to us as a church. Our prophet/president brings periodic revelation to the church, and that has happened for almost 190 years. When that revelation is accepted by the highest legislative body in the church, it is canonized and added to a book of scripture.
There is a phrase that has been important to us from the beginning of our faith–canonized in our scripture and also seen as one of our Enduring Principles. Its initial presentation to the church (in 1835) expressed it this way: “…the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.”
More recently, as the church has struggled with articulating what is basic to our faith, it has been identified as one of our nine Enduring Principles as “Worth of All Persons.” These principles define who our faith community is–the heart and soul. The principles are also able describe our church as expressed throughout the world, regardless of the culture it is found in.
There are some brief descriptions of each principle, and this one includes these three statements:
- God views all people as having inestimable and equal worth.
- God wants all people to experience wholeness of body, mind, spirit, and relationships.
- We seek to uphold and restore the worth of all people individually and in community, challenging unjust systems that diminish human worth.
That sounds pretty straightforward…but living it out can be a challenge.
We have not always succeeded as a faith community…but we continue to try. And as we look back, we can see how we have grown through having difficult conversations about what this principle means.
But I find myself wondering now…are we still trying to grow into a fuller understanding? Or have we been too influenced by the society we live in–that says that some people are of more worth than others?
ALL people are of worth!
It doesn’t matter what country they’re from…what their religion is…what their ethnic background is…who they love…what political party they belong to…
ALL people are of worth.
That doesn’t mean that we’re necessarily going to like everyone. Nor does it deny that some people are involved in behaviors that are harmful to themselves or to others.
It also doesn’t mean that learning to live with each other is going to be easy.
But it does mean that we have no right to call another human being “vermin”…or to call for their extermination.
Many of us are privileged to not have to worry about where we are going to sleep…or find food…or fear violence on our doorsteps. That is not true of many in this world…and we need to recognize our privilege–and use it to help create policies that will allow others to have freedom from violence…to have shelter and food that will allow them to grow up.
I believe ALL people are created in the image of the Divine. And because of that all people have value…and we need to work together to challenge those governments, systems and policies that say otherwise.