In many Christian circles, humanism is typically thought of as an ideology that puts man over God. To a degree, that’s true. What’s known as secular humanism values reason, ethics, and justice over religious dogma as a source of personal morality. I understand that this will come across as rather simplistic, but for the purposes of this post, it will have to suffice.
Evangelical Christianity often dominates the culture for those of us that have lived all or significant portions of our lives in the South. In fact, laws are typically crafted with some notion of the divine in mind. The problem, however, is this type of legislating most often contrasts with important humanist values. Ironically, many Christians even proudly espouse some concept of the humanist values of justice, reason, and ethics. Increasingly, however, they seem to be abiding by these values situationally. When it comes to people in the LGBT community, Muslims, minorities, and other Christians whose beliefs go against the Evangelical grain, justice and fairness don’t always apply.
I don’t believe that the concept of humanism is necessarily in conflict with a belief in Christ, but that’s not especially relevant here. The more relevant thing is the fact that Christ himself taught us to do many things that are now thought of as humanistic and counter to Biblical teaching. Things like feeding the poor, being humble, and promoting peace are not considered virtues worth pursuing among many of today’s believers. This is very apparent in laws that target access to food and medicines for the poor. Believers now seem to be more interested in crying foul about perceived slights, than being humble, loving, and understanding. They are also at the forefront of efforts to roll back gun control laws, as well as the hawkish warmongering of the past decade plus. Peacemakers, it would seem, they are not.
Please understand that I am in no way characterizing all Southerners. I am one of them, after all. Nor am I characterizing all Evangelicals. Some of the people I admire the most who very much follow Christ’s example would consider themselves one. What I am really describing is a certain zeitgeist that seems to be working its way through our society.
I know this will come across as pointing the finger, and I guess that is true. Regardless, if you are going to call yourself a Christian, the least you could do is more closely mirror what the man actually taught. Perhaps, we should all be more of the humanist that Christ actually was.