8.03.2013

Human Value, Imago Dei & Kierkegaard

The one thing that Kierkegaard really pushes in Works of Love, that we have lost sight of today, is what "equality", for humans, actually means.  So many today think that equality is a levelling out of social class, privilege, and income.  Kierkegaard does not view equality in this way at all.

In fact, he is against the levelling out of distinctions.  In part, I think it is because he is against any sort of Platonic ideal of what it means to be human.  He is not seeking of a way for man to become cookie-cutter shapes (or Forms), all exactly the same, but that man would understand what it means to be human and what it means to treat others as humans (love your neighbour).  Although Kierkegaard does not use the phrase, there is a strong sense that he is implying that humans carry the imago dei (Image of God), this is what makes humans, universally human, equally human.  This is our equality.  Since we all carries the imago dei, we are all to love one another.

This imago dei gives equality without status, wealth, or privilege.  It does not require an earthly levelling of the playing field, people are intrinsically valuable and worthy of love.  Neighbourly love then would be meaningless if there were no distinctions, since it is love, despite our differences. This is what makes Christian love, love of neighbour, so great.


Today our culture has lost sight of any sort of imago dei.  Do not be fooled by thinking that this still has a (small) hold on secular culture because people still want to help the homeless, the third world, and the sick.  A lot of people help the homeless, sick, and third world because they view value as ability, health and wealth.  They help, not because people are intrinsically valuable, but because they are adding value to people's lives.  For Kierkegaard, this is selfish-love because the giver feels a superiority over the one whom the gift imparts a higher 'status'.  No one is higher or lower for Kierkegaard (or any Christian), we are all equal.