Can You Tell Me How We Got to the HHS Mandate?

This seems appropriate to quote; it is part of the picture:

The content of the spiritual life is defined for Christians by fulfilling obligations of love towards their neighbor — but those obligations do not arise from a doctrine of human rights: they derive from the command of Christ. The difference is crucial: when Christians come to regard the service of their brothers and sisters as a response to their demands and rights as humans (commonly part of the vocabulary of secular social service) they are easily drawn into the vortex of materialist interpretations of life itself and become inseparable from the prevalent moral culture of the Humanists. Alien views of humanity which come in an obvious form are easily identified and assailed; when they come without an ideological label they are really hazardous. If the common agenda of attending to suffering was the only consideration in the modern equation of Christian service with Humanist ethicism, the potential damage to spiritual integrity might perhaps be slight. But it is not. For the Humanist agenda projects human claims to release from the effects of their own humanity in opposition to the providential scheme ordered by God. The reality is human pursuit of security, and an escalating set of entitlements quite at variance with the Christian insistence that life was not ordained for pleasure or repose.

The crudity of modern Humanism could do with more exposure. Its central contention is that men and women are justified in their self-declared entitlements. There, however, the matter ends. There is no agreement as to what society exists to promote; what individual lives are for. This is especially true in a situation like the prevailing one, in which cultural relativism in a ‘plural’ society will not allow one view of human destiny, or one religious understanding, to be regarded as more acceptable than any other — at least as far as recognition by the state is concerned. Hence the need, in the gathering Humanist society, for each person to cultivate art and music and such other accomplishments as may indicate that their ‘spiritual’ persons are still important. Human life becomes an affair of human association itself, and its accessories in family experience and sexual congress; of the pursuit and indulgence of pleasure for its own sake; of work, in order to meet the costs of family and pleasure; of cultural or recreational diversions to indicate intelligent use of time; of waiting, in lengthening spasms of decrepitude induced by improvements in medical science, for the end to come. In Christian understanding, life is, in all its dimensions, a preparation for eternity, an anticipations of blessedness — because it is an education of the soul — and the conversion of suffering into authentic spirituality. Then the service of others becomes truly the service of Christ himself: and that indeed involves the alleviation of suffering, attention to the disadvantaged, and the advancement of science in order that men and women may join with God in the development of the earth. These ends, in truth, are not sought because of any legitimate human entitlements, nor do they establish men and women themselves as the arbiters of their own sense of worth. Before material welfare comes submission to God, and before submission comes confession of sin, and before that comes an acknowledgement of human worthlessness in the face of the Creator of all things.

I could go on, but the publisher might mind. The book, Secularisation, by Edward R. Norman, came highly recommended from the most discerning of readers.

  • Marion (Mael Muire)

    I realize that the book selection is but an excerpt, but it might be interpreted as the author’s slighting the notion of what Christian persons owe to one another in justice, and of the dignity due to the human person, and particularly to the freedom and integrity of the human person, which ought to be respected by all Christians, and by all persons.

    Our dignity and our freedom before Almighty God do impose many duties upon our neighbor – duties to act and duties to refrain from acting in our regard – and to the extent that the fulfillment of these duties deal in grave matter or affect the good of the community, we act justly when we charitably insist upon our neighbors’ observing our freedom, our integrity, and our autonomy, and, indeed, may fail in justice when we omit to do so. The existence of all of this begins to look a great deal like “rights” on our part.

  • Walter Von Ahn

    The problem is in the first sentence. Who decides what god commands. Mortal men who have been arguing and killing each other over this since time began. Until god speaks clearly humanists will do their best to lower the butchers bill.


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