Dignify and Deploy 40: Dignity for All
‘It is Jesus who provokes you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is He who urges you to shed the masks of a false life…Jesus stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives.’
-Pope St. John Paul II, Rome’s Youth Day 2000
Ania and Marco will marry soon in Krakow; the daughter of parents broken by Soviet-ruled Poland, Ania, like her nation, emerged radiant out of a host of indignities through the Polish Church. Marco lived under ‘gay’ lust until Jesus lit up his destiny as a man fit for loving Ania. St. John Paul II empowered both bride and bridegroom to rediscover lost fullness. Their love is founded on that dignity, the truth of the human person.
That is John Paul’s legacy: a fierce fatherly challenge to whatever threatens the dignity in which God made humanity. ‘This runs like a bright thread through his pontificate,’ says Weigel (Witness to Hope, 334). More than any other Christian leader, Wojtyla lit up who we are through who He is, the Light of the world. He insisted that all global citizens reckon with Him who reveals creation, fall, and redemption. Like St. Paul to the Ephesians, he never ‘hesitated to proclaim the whole will of God’ (Acts 20:27) to an array of international indignities.
Gloriously, John Paul was the spiritual leader most responsible for the Soviet wall crumbling and tumbling down by 1990. In the decades preceding, he quenched constantly ‘the immutable thirst for freedom’ in his beloved Poles and all the oppressed. Lenin’s locked doors couldn’t withstand a people dignified in truth. May we assert the same for the Ukraine in this hour! We cheer her on, we who champion human freedom due to John Paul’s Gospel of dignity.
How much more does that Gospel apply to the LGBTQ+ ceiling that now conforms people to a host of human indignities, namely sexual confusion and fruitless sexual acts? Our sputtering over ‘gay’ or ‘trans’ or ‘marriage’ rights suggests that we no longer know who we are as human beings; we’ve abdicated Wojtyla’s Gospel that takes us down to our original dignity and raises it up. From hypocritical legalism to silly (and dangerous) celebration, the world has lost its way, sexually-speaking. Even the Church stammers: Pope Francis does not seem to know John Paul’s Gospel of dignity for the same-sex attracted.
Carl Trueman writes: ‘We are in a crisis of what it means to be human. Are embryos human? Are sex differences morally significant? Is gender identity different from sex? Disagreements about the creature may prove more devastating to the church than those about the Creator.’
The ‘Marco’s’ of this world know otherwise. They know their bodies possess a moral law which gives them an unchanging basis for knowing who they are: man made for woman! They amplify John Paul’s vision of the human person. In his encyclical (one of my favs), Veritatis Splendor (Splendor of Truth), John Paul highlights what we can’t not know—how our universal human nature gives us a common dignity that we must realize and defend.
May that splendor rise and shine today! Our common enemy has shackled a generation’s freedom to know and realize the good of its sexuality. In the spirit of John Paul, we can fight for this original dignity in all persons—we do so humbly, gently, persistently. Instead of lowering the bar for those who insist on it, we invite him or her to consider the One who raises our sexuality to the level of what it means to be human, made in His image to dignify self and others.
More than ever, we need our lives to reflect the glory of man for woman, woman for man. We embody an anthropology and philosophy of divine love. John Paul illuminated that love throughout his life. If that is not his greatest legacy (and it may well be), it is certainly the one most relevant to today’s sexual indignities.
‘Far from limiting human freedom, the truth about the human person guarantees freedom’s future.’ Pope John Paul II’s Address to the UN, 1979.
“May we live and speak of the glory You entrusted to us in these bodies, O God. Thank You for this man who fought for this dignity. May we do our part by confirming the dignity of the one next to us. May we blaze like torches of holy, integrated love.
Come Holy Spirit, liberate what is true and beautiful from what debases us. May we not settle but aspire to the dignity of our sexual humanity. May we grow into ‘mature expressions of the gift’ by helping others do the same. Deployed to dignify, we ‘harness the John force.’”