Recently, (like so many other humanists have been opining) a social commentator said:
“In our relationships with people, what we must see first is the human being…” – Fr. Garth Minott
I disagree. In our relationships with people, we should first see God.
The heresy embodied in the “…we must see first is the human being…” type of comments has been making ‘the rounds’ among the cognoscenti for a while now; propagated by self-proclaimed intellectuals of all stripes, even those identify themselves with the church. And it is used almost wholly as a preamble for demanding that the church, the Body of Christ, the bride of Christ, accept the LGBT agenda.
The “…we must see first is the human being…” heresy is (erroneously) derived using several constructs, but one popular one among intellectual clergy uses the Parable of the Good Samaritan as its pretext. Briefly, the argument says that when the Samaritan rescued the robber-beaten Jewish man, the Samaritan never asked for his sexual orientation before rendering life-saving aid.
Therefore, they deduce that when relating to individuals (whether sick or healthy) we should accept them as humans first and concern ourselves with their lifestyle later, if at all. Furthermore, the implication they confer is that if we would at all concern ourselves with the lifestyle of the person we are interacting with, then we would not be like the Good Samaritan.
The logic of their argument is, however, inherently flawed. First, knowledge of an individual’s background, habits, etc. does not mean it can or will result in a denial of aid from me or any other believer. It would be foolish to choose to help someone because I don’t know anything about them.
Certainly, I might (wrongly) choose not to help someone because I know their background. But the converse would be silly. The Samaritan did not help the beaten man because he was a stranger to him; he helped the beaten man because the man needed help. The Samaritan was not motivated by lack of information, rather he was motivated by compassion:
“But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.” ~ Luke 10:33-34
A second flaw in the argument is that wanting to know someone’s background is somehow a hindrance to relating effectively to them. However, anyone who visits an emergency room, or enrolls in a school in the Western World is only too aware of the mountain of information requested on a deluge of forms. AND all this BECAUSE they want to serve the patient/student/client BETTER.
The hospital wants to know what medications you might be allergic to so that it does not prescribe them to you. And if you just had (or are having) a heart attack, the ER needs to know if you recently took Viagra®; otherwise the medication they would normally use could kill you instead.
Therefore, it is unnecessary to deduce that the lack of information gathering by the Good Samaritan made him more effective in showing mercy to the sick man.
Lastly, we cannot prove that the Samaritan would have behaved differently with knowledge of the sick man’s culture, ethnicity or lifestyle. The PARABLE only gives us information on the Samaritan’s actions, there is no information on his worldview, value-system or biases. Hence, we should not and can not assume/fabricate any personal attributes of the Samaritan.
RESTORING MAN IN GOD’S IMAGE
Again, I disagree. In our relationships with fellow human beings, we should first see God.
Not that people are God, but that people were made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). As we know, sin has deformed that image; but it is God’s intent, through Christ, to restore us (John 3:16, Ephesians 4:13).
Accordingly, our interactions with each other must always be redemptive and restorative (Ephesians 5:15-17, Colossians 4:5, Galatians 6:1-2, etc.), as God’s love channels through each Believer to accomplish said goal.
SALVATION IS KINETIC
To “see” the human being “first” risks the prioritization of the state of man over the design/plan of God. It is to be preoccupied with where someone is rather than where they need to be.
When Jesus counseled the “woman caught in adultery” (John 8:1-11) there is no discussion of her “human” condition: Jesus did not focus on what “caused” her to be in the situation she was in. Rather, Jesus declines to condemn her AND, in the “same breath”, challenges her to “sin no more” (John 8:11).
Jesus kept the focus on where she needed to be: His interaction with her was redemptive and restorative. The challenge for her was whether or not she would walk down the path He directed her to.
Essentially, the same approach was used when Jesus interviewed the woman at the well (John 4:1-42). Jesus kept challenging her to ask for the water (of salvation) that only He could give her. When she finally asked for it, He pointed out to her that her living state would have to change. The redemption He offered would not facilitate her remaining who she was, redemption meant change. gain there was no attention paid to why she got to the state she was in ONLY that she would have to move away from it.
Secular humanism, and related philosophies, make man (the individual) the focus of life. It encourages us to preoccupy ourselves with rationalizing, excusing and justifying man as he is: there is no challenge/demand for change only a cry for acceptance. Conversely, salvation keeps the focus on God: “Look and live, look to Jesus now and live”. Salvation challenges us to change, to move from where we are and come to God.
Accordingly, when the prodigal son returned (Luke 15:11-32) the father never asked him where he went, or what he did there. There was no mention of his psychology or psychosis; no word on his predispositions or predilections. The father celebrated because the prodigal was now home: he had MOVED from the far away place and had returned HOME where he belonged. He had moved from death to life!
“For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.” ~ Luke 15:24
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” ~ John 5:24
It is not Believers, who are preoccupied and ‘hung up’ on a person’s past/present lifestyle. That is not where the tension between Believers and the unsaved is. Rather, the tension is in the direction to move in. The unsaved, especially those with lifestyles they are unwilling to relinquish want to “be accepted as they are”. They cry “see me as a person only, ignore my lifestyle”. They only want to hear the first part of John 8:11 “neither do I condemn thee”.
But Jesus and His followers don’t stop there, we are compelled to complete the verse: “go, and sin no more”. Because it is God’s intent for us to see Him; and in seeing Him to recognize how far we have fallen because of sin; and to allow Him to restore His image in us.
See God first.