OF HUMAN INDIGNITY AND THE LIMITS OF ETHICS

Douglas Lawrie

Abstract


Human dignity is threatened by human sinfulness, but also limited by non-sinful human
indignity. In some aspects of creaturely existence, humour, sex and play, for instance, we
are released from our dignity and the ethical evaluations that go with it. These should be
appreciated as God’s good gift. Drawing on the book of Job and Psalm 39, the article
argues that, precisely because Christian ethics goes beyond middle-class ethics, theological
anthropology cannot restrict itself to an ethical perspective in which God is seen solely as
Judge. This leads to a moralism that is humanly intolerable and theologically untenable: it
ignores the ‘zeroth stipulation’ of the Decalogue, which points to God’s creative and
consummative grace.

Keywords


Decalogue; Human dignity; Psalm 39; Book of Job

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7833/106-0-149

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ISSN 2305-445X (online); ISSN 0254-1807 (print)

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