Devon Dick | Baptists restoring dignity to Jamaica
Restoring dignity to the nation will be a priority of the Reverend Karen Kirlew, the first female president of the Jamaica Baptist Union (JBU). She is concerned about the heightened rate of crime and violence, the ways in which we talk with each other, and how we settle disputes. The goal is to create a just society and improve the conditions of the citizens (Gleaner, February 22). The issue of dignity is important. Dignity is the state of being worthy of honour and respect. Dignity does not have a human origin. It is of God. Dignity is a gift from God to each of us. It is a sacred, divine endowment received for our having been created in the image of God. In a real sense, all humans are dignitaries because we have dignity from God, making us special.
Baptists could lead the revolution of restoring dignity by starting with religious leaders who preach hate and try to trample on the dignity of others.
Two Sundays ago, an overseas-based preacher on CVM TV addressed so-called Christian-looking whores. In his anti-woman rant, he said women who flapped their ankle chains, had breasts hanging out, lips painted all red, nails painted red, wearing fake hair, having breast implants, toenails painted with fake diamonds and who wore skin-tight pants are "nothing but a prostitute".
Obviously, he was angry and called them "'ho" and he got Amens from his audience, in which men and women do not sit together. This is an awful rant because there is a Christian lady who removed her breasts because of cancer and has breast implants. Does that make her a lady who sells her body? Absolutely not!
The preacher was presumptuous because he was trying to devalue those upon which God has conferred the highest value. He was playing God and acting shamelessly. It is an attempt to disregard, deface, and mar the one who was created to reflect most accurately who God is. Baptists will have to deal with these so-called Christians.
It is also wrong to call Nikolas Cruz, who killed 17 former schoolmates in Florida, a monster. We might even say he behaved like a monster, but never call someone made in the image of God a monster. Cruz has dignity because he was made in the image of God. We value his inherent dignity in spite of what he has done.
We should not call Saint Paul a monster because he engaged in some awful acts, and the blood of saints was on his hands when he was Saul the persecutor. So respect the dignity of Paul and respect Cruz's also.
The Baptists will have to continue to show concern for people in prison or detention so that basic standards guide the treatment in line with the dignity of being human.
Remember that each human being is a creature with dignity, no matter what he or she has done, or failed to do, or what was done to him or her. Human dignity is not measured based on achievement, attainment, or any human assessment.
The president of the JBU is correct in focusing on restoring dignity through advocacy and the projects that serve as evidence of continued commitment to defending and promoting the value of human dignity. Baptists need more appropriate humanising health, education, welfare-enabling projects and programmes to give meaning to this.
Baptists can consider whether the buying and selling of footballers is consistent with human dignity. Why not treat them the way we treat other workers and not have owners of clubs owning sportsmen?
There needs to be a national effort at respecting the dignity of others.
- The Rev Dr Devon Dick is an author and Baptist pastor. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.