My Hatred For Secular

When a ten year old boy told the pastor he wanted to pray for the football teams prior to the Super Bowl, that they would be safe and it would be an exciting game, the pastor scoffed at his request and while praying said that God did not care for such secular things. I wanted to hit the guy.

I hate the word secular. I despise it with all its connotations. I abhor the word in its current use because of the inherent thinking errors that accompany it. What is said to be secular is often thought unspiritual.

The word secular is derived from the Latin saecularis meaning:

1) Lasting or occurring for a long indefinite period of time. Chiefly found in scientific applications, of processes or phenomena: the secular cooling of the earth, secular change of the mean annual change of the temperature .

(2) Non-spiritual, having no concern with religious or spiritual matters . In medieval and Late Latin, saecularis was particularly used of that which belongs to this world, hence non-spiritual, lay, and secondly in the wide sense of anything which is distinct, opposed to or not connected with religion or ecclesiastical things, temporal as opposed to spiritual or ecclesiastical . Thus property transferred or alienated from spiritual to temporal hands is said to be “secularized”. (from here)

Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, is secular. Everything, and I mean absolutely everything, is spiritual. And of course I don’t mean it in the way described above, I mean it in the way it is currently use among religious folk. Even when people consider themselves secular, they cannot escape the fact that they are hand made by God, that they live in a world and breathe the air designed by a spiritual God. We are all spiritual beings. Even when we’re not aware of it.

The connotation (the implied meaning) of secular is that it’s something bad and sinful. When we make the mistake of letting this implied meaning poison our thinking we then begin to see things as sinful and not sinful. Bad and good. And we start attaching labels. Church on Sunday (religious=good), Football on Sunday (secular=bad), a book bought at the Christian Book Store (religious=good), a book bought at Borders not in the religious section (secular=bad), all six seasons of Growing Pains (Kirk Cameron=good), all four seasons of The Office (secular=bad).

Our thinking becomes so black and white we lose the ability to see God everywhere. We limit him to specifically designed places in space that are previously consecrated or stamped with a Dobson approval.

The Pope’s recent statements follow this framework:

[The Pope] later warned, in a speech to American bishops, of the “subtle influence of secularism” that can co-opt religious people and lead even Catholics to accept abortion, divorce and co-habitation outside of marriage…“Any tendency to treat religion as a private matter must be resisted,” he said.

And any tendency to treat secularism as not a religious matter must be resisted. We are called that in everything we do, we do it to the glory of God. That means playing football, watching television, driving our car, talking to people, buying food, walking our dog, working in the office, everything, everything.

Next time you hear the word secular, stop and think how it’s being used, and what’s being implied.

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3 thoughts on “My Hatred For Secular

  1. “Even when people consider themselves secular, they cannot escape the fact that they are hand made by God, that they live in a world and breathe the air designed by a spiritual God. We are all spiritual beings. Even when we’re not aware of it.”

    I think you need to understand that the ideas and beliefs that we conceive in our mind are different from the external world. Because you personally believe something so passionately doesn’t make it true. We all have our own thoughts and feelings and can quickly come into conflict when opposing views are aired or one is given preference over another. Secularism is not about removing your ability to find god in all things, but is about providing a neutal setting in which those who don’t wish to have god pushed upon them can live along side those who have faith.

  2. Richard,

    Just because we disbelieve something passionately doesn’t make it true. And there are times when our beliefs and ideas are not different from the external world. Right now I’m holding a book by Philip Roth in my hand. I have a pretty good idea that it’s a Roth book, I believe it’s a Roth book, and if I had ten people standing around me they would all confirm that my idea and belief is in accordance with the external world that I am indeed holding a Roth book in my hand.

    We all have our own thoughts and feelings and sometimes they’re right and sometimes they’re wrong. We shouldn’t be afraid of conflict with opposing views. We need it! If the majority of the world was afraid of conflict when Hitler stepped in to power where would we be now. And he had his own thoughts and feelings.

    Regardless of all that, I don’t really care how the “secular” world uses the word secular. What I don’t like is the religious world inferring that whatever is secular is automatically wrong or sinful. It’s a subtle connotation that has larger implications that provide unbiblical thinking errors about the world God created and entered into.

  3. ross, you don’t want to redefine the word secular you want to redefine people’s hearts. i understand that. a lost world only sees one man – comparing and challenging the people who love christ against each other and themselves.

    in my heart, the last thing we want to do is seperate each other – i think that is your point too.

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