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8-5-20 A Message from the Reverend Chuck Alley


A Message from the Reverend Chuck Alley
Rev. Chuck Alley
This is the second article in a three-week series on a Christian response to the world. Last week we explored suffering, this week's topic is human nature, and the final article will deal with community. As we live under the specter of COVID, I thought it would be helpful to explore these three foundational topics in Anglican medical ethics.
The key to understanding human nature is the concept (and reality) of adoption. What adoption means is to be brought into the life of someone of greater power. In the case of baptism in the Anglican tradition, that power is the Almighty God. As such, our adoption by God is the ultimate endorsement of the human self. Through our adoption, we become not only children of God, but also heirs. As a result, our security and significance come from our relationship with God. Human nature and dignity are not derived from social status, power, wealth, intelligence, or free will, but rather from being loved by God. Furthermore, it is our adoption by the eternal God that transforms us into a people of hope. Because it is an adoption, we know this to be an unequal relationship in which we are dependent on God.
As Christians, we do not believe that only Christians possess this dignity. Rather, we know that whether our neighbors know or acknowledge their dependence on God, all human beings are created in the image of God. That means that all human beings are potential children and heirs of God, whether we can recognize it at the moment or not. To think otherwise is to dehumanize a large proportion of the world's population. History has demonstrated that from there it is a small and simple step to genocide. It is clear that our "privilege" as children and heirs of God is to be cloaked in humility. We cannot know what is in our neighbors' hearts, but we do know the heart of our Father.
In a world living in fear of COVID, we are reminded of the universal nature of human suffering. In addition, when we understand the source of true human nature and dignity, our choices and actions need to reflect a proper love of our neighbors-all who are resident in this world. We are to be concerned about our potential role in causing others to suffer and do all in our power to avoid doing so. Likewise, we are to serve others in order to relieve their suffering. It is our familial duty. As we are asked in the Baptismal liturgy from the The Book of Common Prayer, "Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?" And, we reply, "I will, with God's help." This should be true whether we find our neighbor in sickness or in health.

7-29-20 A Message from the Reverend Chuck Alley
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