Humanist Sociology and Traditional Marriage

QUESTION: Humanist Sociology – The Failure of Traditional Marriage


Secular Humanist sociologists are intolerant of the biblical view of the traditional family. They cite the institution of marriage as a prime example of the failure of Christian culture to provide freedoms that encourage human potential and growth. Heterosexual monogamy epitomizes social slavery in its restrictions and inhibitions. Lawrence Casler suggests that “marriage and family life have been largely responsible...for today’s prevailing neurotic climate, with its pervasive insecurity, and it is precisely this climate that makes so difficult the acceptance of a different, healthier way of life.”1

Humanist Sociology – The Demise of the Traditional Family
The concepts of biological and cultural evolution dictate that the traditional concepts of marriage and family have outlived their usefulness. As the human species and culture progress, old traditions become outdated and must be replaced by new concepts that will continue the evolutionary process.

The advent of the feminist movement within Secular Humanism provides a strong rationale for the demise of the traditional family. In this view, the family is outdated because it perpetuates the domination of women by men. Sol Gordon says, “The traditional family, with all its supposed attributes, enslaved woman; it reduced her to a breeder and caretaker of children, a servant to her spouse, a cleaning lady, and at times a victim of the labor market as well.”2 As Paul Kurtz acknowledges, “The feminist movement was begun and has been nourished by leading humanist women.”3 Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Betty Friedan,4 Gloria Steinem, and Simone de Beauvoir are early founders of the woman’s movement, and as Kurtz concludes, “Humanism and feminism are inextricably interwoven.”5


Rendered with permission from the book, Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews (Rev. 2nd ed), David Noebel, Summit Press, 2006. Compliments of John Stonestreet, David Noebel, and the Christian Worldview Ministry at Summit Ministries. All rights reserved in the original.

1 Robert Rimmer, “An Interview with Robert Rimmer on Premarital Communes and Group Marriages,” The Humanist (March/April 1974): 14.

2 Sol Gordon, “The Egalitarian Family is Alive and Well,” The Humanist (May/June 1975): 18.

3 Paul Kurtz, “Fulfilling Feminist Ideals: A New Agenda,” Free Inquiry (Fall 1990): 21.

4 See Daniel Horowitz, Betty Friedan and the Making of “The Feminine Mystique”: The American Left, the Cold War, and Modern Feminism (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1998) for a study of Friedan’s leftism and pro-Communist views.

5 Ibid.

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