We are not talking here about the basic respect due to every person as one created in God’s image. Rather the reference is to a pejorative or negative aspect of the term which is referred to when we are influenced to do some evil act because of opinions or pressures of people around us. It could also mean abstaining from doing a good and righteous act because of fear or deference for those people around.
“Many of them, however, believed in Jesus, even among the rulers, but they did not acknowledge him because of the Pharisees, lest they be put out of the Jewish community. They preferred to be approved by people rather than by God. Yet Jesus had said, and even cried out, ‘He who believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And he who sees me, sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I am not the one to condemn him; for, I have come not to condemn the world but to save the world. He who rejects me, and does not receive my word, already has a judge; the very word I have spoken will condemn him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority; the Father who sent me has instructed me in what to say and how to speak. I know that his commandment is eternal life, and I give my message as the Father instructed me.’(Jn. 12:42-50)”
It might take so much prayer and effort to conquer our evil human inclinations and shamefulness, but as Jesus assures us and with our patience aided by God’s grace, we can remind ourselves of what Jesus told a rich young man: “For man this is impossible but for God everything is possible” (Mt. 19:26).