What happens when respect breaks down? And what are the causes of the lack of respect in our current society?
The purpose of this article is to investigate the effects of the humanistic spirit on respect, explore the reasons and
examine the answers which are set out in the Scriptures.

Stretching from earth to heaven, the fabric of respect extends from child to parent, from the young to the aged, from the mortal to the immortal Deity. It is a moral value, learned from the cradle and based upon a fear of God.

Respect is also a wide fabric stretching horizontally, as mutual respect is shown to our peers, especially in the ecclesia, one to each other “for whom Christ died”.

The Vanity of Humanism

 Humanism believes in self-importance, in human omnipotence. It believes man is capable of resolving all problems, given time. Humanism shows faith, not in a higher Being, but faith in reason and human power. Humanism flourishes in an ungodly society, where the theory of evolution is taken as fact, and man spurns the idea of responsibility to a Creator. The humanist’s God is a fiction of his own making. His picture of God is his own; an impersonal God created by man and making no demands on him (Rom 1:21–23).

Humanism is the acknowledged religion of Australia.


 What are the indicators of respect being assaulted by humanism? Self-assertive attitudes are evidenced in a questioning of Godly values. Why can’t I? why do I have to? there’s no harm in…; why should I… ? you are not in touch with current needs; my opinion is as valid as yours, in fact I am more in touch than you.

It comes out in other ways—graffiti is a form of self-expression which arrogantly imposes the will of one over another. Theft is the result of placing one’s desires above that respect which would ensure that the owner of property can make rightful use of his own.

The humanist is not grateful to God, for he has acquired everything by his own will or effort or good fortune. “In everything give thanks” is a constant reminder from the apostle Paul, which engenders in us a respect towards both people and property.

Lack of respect for others is the fundamental reason why individuals do not always treat ecclesial property with care or, on the other hand, take it for their own uses.

These are all manifestations of the problem. Fundamentally it is due to lack of respect.

A Specious Doctrine

 But humanism seems reasonable. Those who live by it are often helpful and kind. They seem like ordinary nice people. This is why the ecclesia is so vulnerable to such a philosophy. We need to be on the lookout for its influence and check ourselves, whether God is at the centre of our lives or not. Its presence is indicated by a belief in the ability of the individual to reason and persuade, without necessarily recourse to Scripture. Bible quotations are scarce. What is needed today is brethren who believe that there are old-fashioned values which have not yet seen the end of their usefulness. We must familiarise ourselves with the New Testament epistles which provide us with clear direction for daily living—straight from the mind of God.

Self Portraits

 Humanism focuses on self. This being so there are said to be no limits to one’s total fulfilment as a human being. Such an approach makes the individual create a strong self-portrait where the opinions of others are secondary. This ignores the scriptural injunctions of eschewing self-interest and esteeming others better than self. “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Phil 2:3). “And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto Yahweh, which am but dust and ashes” (Gen 18:27).

The Arrogance of Humanism

 Humanism creates people who want to be independent of others. They may ask advice but feel free to pick and choose amongst many counsellors and follow any advice they please. This is where in the education system teachers take to themselves greater authority than parents, aiming to set the child free at an early age from parental guidance. How blessed we are when teachers understand scriptural principles and endorse the Divinely appointed role of parents. Yahweh instructs parents to inculcate noble and enduring values of respect and obedience in their children. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right(Eph 6:1–3).

The modern psychologist postulates: “Treat children as though they have arrived as total, complete human beings, rather than as though they are on their way to something or someplace in the future” (Dr Wayne W Dyer “How to Raise Happy Kids”, page 67). But they have not “arrived”. The “freedom” and “fulfilment” promised by humanism is really slavery to our natural emotions. The whole of life is a developmental process. We will never “arrive” until we awake with the likeness of Yahweh (Psa 17:15). We are always disciples, always learners. The very acknowledgement of this keeps us in a humble state, ready to learn, willing to show respect. “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1).

Dr Dyer’s advice is typical of the approach of modern educationists. “Encourage them [the children] to determine their own ethical thought processes, rather than making robots of them by having them believe only as you and your family have for generations” (ibid page 97). God gave His answer to this same problem in Jeremiah’s day: “Thus saith Yahweh, ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein and ye shall find rest to your souls (Jer 6:16). “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

The arrogance of humanism is again revealed: “If I am going to get where I want to be in life, I can’t rely on anyone but myself in order to make it happen, since I am the only person that I am absolutely certain will be with me at all times, whenever these problems in life crop up. If I am all I’ve got, then I want to be certain that I can call upon me at any time” (ibid page 86). This is bad advice, entirely ignorant of the words of the living God. Notice the importance of self, the lack of real interest in others, the suggestion of ambition and self-gratification. Without the assurance of a greater Being than ourselves we are left totally alone in the world—a terrible thought! (see Eph 2:12). “Trust in Yahweh with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Prov 3:5,6). “In the fear of Yahweh is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge. The fear of Yahweh is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death” (Prov 14:26,27).

The Fear of Yahweh

 We are not to think of this word “fear” as terror (though for many that is all it ever is) but as awe. This “fear” (Heb “yirah”) is based on knowledge. The Gentiles will be terrified when God manifests His power amongst them. The saints who have learnt to know and love Him will no doubt fall upon their face when confronted with the revelation of Divine glory. When we read of the visions seen by Ezekiel, Daniel and John and note their reactions we begin to appreciate how we would feel in His presence. These were great men in the earth, not in their own esteem but in the estimation of their Creator.

The need to respect and rely on One greater than ourselves is taught in Proverbs 2:1–5: “My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of Yahweh, and find the knowledge of God”

Brother to Brother

 Respect is a regard or esteem felt or shown towards another. It is seen in politeness and a deferential and courteous attitude. Respect comes from seeing others as being worthy. “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another” (Rom 12:10).

Two brethren may come to different conclusions on a matter non-essential to salvation. How is the difference to be resolved? Will it be by each press ing the “rightness” of his position on the other? Will he of the more persuasive nature verbally assault his brother until his way is accepted?

There is no “winning” in such positions. In fact the one who appears to “lose” an argument may in reality have overcome his own spirit. Can such a man be arrogant? Clearly no. Yet humanism is inherently arrogant.

A lot of our problems arise through our determination to resolve the matter now and pushing our point of view hard. If only, in deference to each other, we gave time and space for each to review the matter—after the example of God in His longsuffering towards us—how much closer we would grow towards each other in brotherly love.

Submit yourselves to God” says James (4:7); “Yea, all of you be subject one to another and be clothed with humility”, says Peter (1 Pet 5:5). In the world’s eyes, submission means failure and humility is despised. But we have chosen to follow the Lord Jesus Christ and it is he who first taught us that these qualities give honour to God (Phil 2:5–8)

Care for Others

 When parents are clear that God is the centre of their lives and the focus of their thoughts, then they will make every endeavour to teach their children respect from the earliest possible age.

Where there is respect, young children will be taught to be caring. What more delightful scene could we wish to see than our children caring for the elderly, considerate of their welfare and anxious to help. There will not be children rushing around ecclesial halls after meetings in such a way as to endanger the welfare of those whose footing may be insecure. Our young people do a good work amongst our older brethren and sisters with a delightful annual outing. This engenders mutual respect, a wholesome and lovely thing in our ecclesias. “Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am Yahweh” (Lev 19:32).

Honour—The End Result

 Several Hebrew and Greek words serve to give the meaning of honour. It is respect paid to superiors, learnt by developing respect to God (1 Chron 16:27; Psa 66:2; 96:6; Dan 11:38; John 5:23; Rev 5:12), and revealed to parents and kings, including submission and service (Ex 20:12; Matt 15:4; 1 Pet 2:17). It is the esteem due to virtue, wisdom, glory, reputation, and probity—a recognition of moral excellence, integrity, uprightness, honesty and sincerity (Prov 15:33; 22:4; 29:23).

Such honour will be returned at the end—in abundance—to faithful servants of the Deity as the final reward of righteousness (John 5:44; Rom 2:7; Heb 2:7; 2 Peter 1:17). “For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke 14:11). “To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life” (Rom 2:7).