Human First

Only human beings are or can be Christians. Wouldn’t you agree?

Christians are a subset of humans, and being Christian is one way of being human, not something that transforms people into something other than people.

Some would say that Christianity is about being human in the way God intended, restoring the damaged image of God. Others would point to evidence suggesting that Christianity brings out the worst human characteristics in some people.

Whatever your view in these matters, hopefully we can all agree that there are some matters – respect, civility, kindness, compassion, and many more – which are shared among human beings and not the purview of one group. And we often recognize this. Christians would not say that someone bullying them – or their bullying someone else – is “dechristianizing” the other. But they might agree that it is dehumanizing them.

I wonder whether we could get the majority of Christians to commit to being human first. If you feel called to love even enemies, to deny yourself and give self-sacrificially, inspired by your Christian faith, then that is laudable. Go above and beyond! But whatever one’s commitment to being more than human, be at least human, and never less than human, nor willing to treat other human beings as less than human.

Because if being human is a pre-requisite for being a Christian (there are no Christian dogs or cats or mice, are there?) then anyone who fails at being human by definition fails at being Christian too. Wouldn’t you agree?

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  • admiralmattbar

    Unfortunately we do not have a word that describes being a being at the intellectual level of human without saying it is like a human (sapient being that word). I believe the technical definition of sentient is simply conscious and that applies to elephants and dogs but not plants. If we find a sapient alien race we will not only want to think of another word (they may take offense at being evaluated relative to us) but I would happily welcome them as members in my church.

    • James F. McGrath

      Me too, although I am not sure whether it will be necessary or meaningful to them to do so. But at that point, I will gladly revise my statement about this! :-)

  • Bob MacDonald

    God will raise children of Abraham even from these stones (supporting evolution btw) – so not even sentience first let alone human. God first. bereshit bara elohim…

  • Shira Coffee

    As a non-Christian, I find Christians baffling. This post is pure gold, and there are many other expressions of Christianity that warm my heart. Yet there are so many highly publicized Christians who advocate thoroughly INhuman views. I wish I understood how a single tradition can produce such wildly different outlooks on life!