Thursday, April 19, 2012

How Can We Be Different And Still Equal?

Q - If we are all made in God’s image, why are we different from each other?

A - What a great question! Thanks for asking. I hope I can do it justice with my answer.

Being made in God's image and likeness teaches us all of these things below and more:
  • We all share in a magnificent gift of God - our creation.
  • We each have an equal dignity (worth) given by God.
  • Our equality with one another is based on this dignity.
  • Being different from one another does not affect our equality or dignity.
  • We are not God.
  • Our individual uniqueness has meaning and goodness.
  • Our uniqueness tells us something about God.
  • Our differences should compliment one another.
  • Our differences are gifts from God and are part of God's plan for creation.
Remember this - God is three persons in one Divine nature - a Trinity of persons. Thus, he is a family and community of persons. The three persons do not differ in action or nature, but by relationship with one another. Therefore, when we were created, we were made with a share in God's image and likeness in 2 ways:
  1. Each individual human reflects God's image in likeness - just as God has a divine intellect (knows things) and a divine will (freedom to make choices) so each individual human has a human intellect and will. 
  2. We are also made in the image and likeness of God as a community of persons. Just as there is a Divine Father and Son + the love between them, so we are called to image God by being in communion with others, especially our families.
The Catechism says this:
 "1704 The human person participates in the light and power of the divine Spirit. By his reason, he is capable of understanding the order of things established by the Creator. By free will, he is capable of directing himself toward his true good. He finds his perfection "in seeking and loving what is true and good."

1702 The divine image is present in every man. It shines forth in the communion of persons, in the likeness of the unity of the divine persons among themselves
In the communion of persons we live out the image of God not only through our own individual gift of humanity, but also through the communion with others.

Thus, we are called to see how God is reflected in our own selves as well as in others, even though they are different. Each of us reveals, in a mysterious way, a truth about the nature of God, which was given to us in our creation. Part of our purpose in life is to find God's presence within. Our humanity is connected to our individual giftedness and in the differences we each live out the image and likeness of the Trinity in a different way.

What we need to avoid is the idea that equality = "sameness". This is wrong. We can never be truly equal if this is true, because there is no way to achieve "sameness", due to our innate differences.

We must ask how our differences complement each other, and how we are tied to one another and to God. If we side with the view of sameness and the world-view that humanity is defined by what we do, then, for example, the unborn child has no rights since it cannot "do" anything (nor is it the "same" as a fully developed human). But if we side with the Church and the sacramental, sign-value, view of humanity, then our dignity is tied to the fulfilment of our beings as found in each other and in the relationships God created between us.

True equality acknowledges our differences and then finds that which transcends them and is shared by all - our human dignity. Thus, we are "different but equal" while still being made in God's image and likeness.

I hope this helps.

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