I quit being a Christian. I’m out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.
The above quote was posted by Anne Rice, author of the Vampire Chronicles, on her Facebook account. Continuing my series of posts in reaction to this quote, today I will write about Rice’s sixth complaint — that Christianity is anti-secular humanist.
To be perfectly honest, Christianity (by its very nature, which is all about the sacred) is the antithesis of secularism. I am left scratching my head as to how anyone could be secular and Christian, given that a Christian world-view is holistic and strives to make everything in life sacred:
And blessed be His glorious name forever! And let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen. — Psalm 72:19 (71:19 LXX)
Humanism also has an anti-religious connotation in that it focuses on human needs, problems and potential to the exclusion of the supernatural. The great irony in this, from a Christian point of view, is that to deny God is to deny one’s own humanity. Not only are we created in the image and likeness of God, but God Himself, in the second person of the Trinity, united Himself to humanity with such intimacy that He willingly was tortured and willingly died on the cross. Not only was His humanity resurrected from the dead on the third day, but it ascended with Him to be enthroned at the right hand of the Father in glory. In Christianity, one cannot speak about being human without speaking about God.
In comparison, secular humanism pales when it comes to an understanding of human needs, problems and potential. It tends to focus on the rational and the autonomous self. This view actually succeeds in de-humanizing humanity, because it reduces the whole into two of its many parts. Such things as our emotions, our physicality and our need to be part of a greater community (to name just a few) are either ignored, dismissed or seen as detrimental.
A classic example of this de-humanization is right here in the United States — our legal view of the unborn. Though they feel pain, have the physical need to be inside the womb and show a curiosity about their environment (as demonstrated by ultrasounds showing fetuses reacting to the voice of their parents and trying to grasp at needles during amniocentesis procedures), they are unrational, and unable to be autonomous beings. Therefore, when we reduce what is human to reason and autonomy, the unborn do not qualify as human beings.
This is nothing new. I invite everyone to see how those who supported slavery, discrimination against the Native Americans and the Jim Crow laws, etc. made the argument that that all of these various groups were irrational and therefore sub-human.
Christianity’s vision of humanity is all-inclusive (and I never tire of quoting these passages):
There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. — Galatians 3:28
In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all! — Col. 3:11
In addition, we understand that the image and likeness of God within every human person involves becoming like God. We all have the potential of what Orthodox theologians call theosis — a divinization of our humanity as revealed to Peter, James and John by Christ on Mt. Tabor:
He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. — Matt. 17:2
And realized by St. Stephen in his martyrdom:
And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel. — Acts 6:15
Thus, Christianity is much more holistic in its understanding of humanity, much more inclusive and insists on a much greater potential for humanity than secular humanism.