October 1, 2017
A Sunday school teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her five- and six-year old class. After explaining the commandment "Honor thy father and thy mother," she asked, "Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?” Without missing a beat, one little boy answered, "Thou shall not kill."
The US Catholic Conference of Bishops designate the month of October as Respect Life month. Although we often only associate “respect life” with abortion, it encompasses “from womb to tomb,” which includes every issue related to human value and dignity.
We believe that every human person is created in the image and likeness of God. This means that God is the author of life. We, as humans, participate as co-creators in bring forth human life on earth, but life itself comes from God alone. Each of us has God-like characteristics. Jesus tells us that the greatest commandment is to love God and our neighbors. Therefore, every human life must be treated with utmost respect.
Society tries to tell us that our value and dignity come from what we do, our success or failure, and how others treat or value us. If these “values” don’t exist or aren’t up to one’s own standards, it is easy for a person to see their life as worthless.
We believe and know that our value and dignity comes from God. It does not matter how others view our own worth. Coming from God alone, human value does not change or become reduced because of societal opinions or ideologies.
Along with the issues of abortion, euthanasia and capital punishment, pornography and sex trafficking are two important concerns regarding respecting life in our current times.
Pornography is a big elephant in the room. It is accessible to anyone who has internet or cellular data and can be viewed anywhere. Surprisingly, many people assume that it is normal to view it. Pornography not only violates the value and dignity of a human person, especially women and children, it also affects people psychologically and emotionally. As a priest, I have witnessed many men, young and old, become addicted to pornography. As a result, their relationships were destroyed. What seems “innocent” in the beginning can end in the destruction of a human person.
Respecting Life is a fundamental calling for all believers. It is about who our God is and who we are in relation to Him, built in His image on the foundation of love.