by David Howard
Beginning in the 1700s in Europe, we began to see the forming of a strange and seemingly self-contradictory alliance of intellectuals and artists and writers that made up a large part of what we now call the Enlightenment. Broadly speaking, the Enlightenment was a reaction against religious fanaticism, senseless wars, and the social and political injustices of that period. But as all social movements carry within them the seeds of ideological extremes, so did the Enlightenment.”
Secular humanism was one of these extremes, and neo-paganism was the other. Instead of reforming Christianity and returning it to its original humane beginning, as taught by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, secular humanism opted for the total elimination of religious faith, and religion in total was seen as a retrograde influence. But like a bipolar mind divided against itself, the Enlightenment also produced a number of writers and philosophers who promoted a neo-pagan view of life. The secular humanists were the dominant voices, but the neo-pagans could claim the most famous writer of this period: Jean-Jacques Rousseau. His great influence on both the French Revolution and the next cultural-social movement, Romanticism, is well established by the writers of history. Rousseau began the cult of nature-worship and promoted a morality based on the standard of personal feelings. He was the godfather of Romanticism, which expressed its views in poems, novels, art, and music.
The debates and contradictions we see in modern American culture today are the same. There are those who want to eliminate the influence of religion not only in our government, but in our society in general and those who promote a “New Age” of nature-worship. They seem to be natural enemies, but in reality, they work in a symbiotic alliance to undermine what has been our Judeo-Christian tradition. They are strange bedfellows and useful enemies. What they have in common is the main objective of ending what has been the dominant influence of the Judeo-Christian morality in American history.
If we seek a second commonality between the two groups, it is in their values systems. Both reduce truth and goodness to human-sized standards. Each individual is his own oracle or, as the once prominent radical of the 1960s, Jerry Rubin, told us: “If it feels good, do it.” Rubin is a good example of the strange hybrid mix of pagan values, nature-worship and Marxist ideology. Based upon his own immature understanding of life and history and following the pagan credo of feelings first, he made wild statements that excited an equally ignorant youth culture of that day. This is why young voters today are carried away by the socialist rhetoric of Sanders; Warren; and the most historically ignorant of them all, Ocasio-Cortez. Without understanding of the lessons of history, and without core values that have withstood the test of time, all people are subject to the sway of demagoguery.
Secular humanists believe that you can have a highly moral society without religious faith, but history has shown that it takes the inspiration of religious faith to maintain a high moral standard over a long period of time. The other great enemy of Judeo-Christian culture, the neo-pagans who talk a good game of peace, love, and healing the planet, are always found attempting to undo the linkage between sexual morality and the sacredness of human life. Religious studies author Michael F. Strmiska wrote:
[I]n pagan magazines, websites, and internet discussion … Christianity is frequently denounced as an antinatural, antifemale, sexually and culturally repressive, guilt-ridden … authoritarian religion that has fostered intolerance, hypocrisy and persecution throughout the world.
Unfortunately for the neo-pagans and secular humanists, who believe the same thing, a statistical study of the world’s different cultural regions proves a different case. Those parts of the world that have been most impacted and influenced by the values and spiritual outlook of the Judeo-Christian tradition are the same areas of the world that are most prosperous and have the best record of human rights and democracy. They are also those areas that have experienced in modern history the lowest amount of war and genocide.
Those who would object to this view and who point to the wars and genocides in Europe before 1945 as proof must face the historical facts that Hitler’s Nazi German empire was based upon pagan values. Western civilization rejected those values and paid a high price to defeat his empire. The same is also true of the secular humanists who would promote a socialist or so-called progressive agenda. They must face the fact that the wars and mass murder perpetrated by communist Russia and China were the product of a violent offshoot of secular humanism. When you take God or divine revelation out of the equation, you are left with human philosophies, some more hate-filled and dangerous than others. Marxism came out of a malevolent human mind who thought he knew more than all the religious teachers and moral philosophers who had ever lived.
If one overlays a series of maps showing those regions of the world that are today least free, have the most human rights violations, are poorest, and have produced the most wars and refugees, one sees a connection. They are the same regions of the world that historically have had the most enduring pagan cultures. Where there are exceptions to this rule (like Japan and South Korea), it can be explained by the fact that they have been highly influenced and reformed by the value system of Western civilization.
Despite the overwhelming historical evidence in favor of the positive influence of the Judeo-Christian tradition, the secular humanists and neo-pagans continue their tireless efforts to undermine and replace our American heritage with a new pagan foundation. Opinion polls on questions about sexuality prove that they have largely succeeded. Tom W. Smith in a piece published by the University of Chicago in 2013 stated the bottom-line:
[T]here has been an increase in sexually-permissive attitudes over the last four decades … with more approval of premarital sex, same-gender sex, gay marriage … and the legal access to pornography.
These changes were not accidental. They are the byproduct of the intentional efforts of a committed community of believers who are in control of our popular culture. President Obama’s endorsement of homosexual “marriage” and the Supreme Court’s narrow ruling in its favor were only the cherry on top or the white flag of national surrender.
The American Psychological Association as early as 2001 reported that “68 percent of television shows during the 1999–2000 season contained sexual content[.]” A Kaiser Family Foundation report from 2011 found that between 1998 and 2005, the number of sex scenes on American television had doubled. Another recent study showed that in the 1970s, there were only five homosexual characters presented on American television, but by the 2000s, there were 390. The Atlantic reported that in 2011, “92% of Top Billboard songs are about sex.” Chrysalis L. Wright, Ph.D. wrote in Media Psychology Review that “young adults listen to music between two and four hours each day[.] … [M]ore than 1/3 of popular songs contain explicit sexual content and 2/3 of these references are degrading[.]”
Like America’s culture today, pagan ancient Rome set a very low bar for sexual morality. It promoted a harsh double standard in the treatment of women. With few exceptions, it licensed male promiscuity and allowed pederasty and the rape of women and children who were slaves. Judaism raised the standard to a much higher level. It strongly condemned adultery, homosexuality, a husband forcing himself on his wife, and sex outside marriage. Judaism produced the healthiest and most wholesome family life in the ancient world. Jesus raised the standard even higher. His view was encapsulated in his statement, “If a man looks on a woman and lusts after her, he has already committed adultery.”
Jesus’s statements in general implicitly condemned polygamy and easy divorce and made love the only acceptable standard for human relationships. All of this raised the value and improved over time the treatment of women. Most importantly, his teaching linked the sacredness of human life with his teaching on sexual purity. By linking these two principles of Judeo-Christianity it became impossible to pretend that rape, pedophilia, adultery, prostitution and permissive sexuality were compatible with the respect for life, either slave or free.
This is the culture the secular humanists and the neo-pagans, in their strange alliance, wish to dismantle. Should they succeed, it will be all the worse for the West.