Blurred lines

The problem with drawing lines in the sand is that with a breath of air they disappear.

I remember driving around Kansas City with some friends while in college when I was first encountered this question that had plagued me for the entirety of my Christian life, “what is the difference between Christian and secular music?”  You see on my radio I was listening to “secular” music and my friend was becoming continually and visibly agitated with it.  When he asked me to change it, the question was raised by another friend.  Although it seemed an initially obvious answer, I did not immediately know that answer.  Actually, the more I thought about it the more I realized I am not sure.  Was it that a Christian song had to mention Jesus or God?  If that is true then what do we do with the books of Esther and Song of Songs (which do not mention either)?

Unfortunately, this is a dilemma that is not unique to the sphere of music.  We live in a world where the divide between Secular and Sacred is constantly and adamantly being drawn by both Christians and non-Christians alike.  We are frequently labeling things “Christian” that I suppose we fear otherwise might be confused for something else.

  • Christian schools
  • Christian groups
  • Christian movies
  • Christian books
  • Christian bands, etc.

If our music, our schools, our groups, our books, our actions do not point those around us to Jesus, and serve to redeem a broken world, then are they not indeed unchristian?  Instead of creating clear bright line, like we would like, Christ blurred the lines between secular and sacred, seemingly implying that the division the ritualistic religion of the day had crested a false division.  If All things are God’s, all things are in fact sacred?  IS this going to o far?  Why? Furthermore, He was criticized for almost everything he did because he acted as if things such as the purity and impurity, pious and impious, Jew and Gentile, powerful and weak, rich and poor did not exist as the world saw them.  When Paul came on the scene he preached this as he proclaimed in Romans there is no division, but “all are one in Christ Jesus.”

Is it easier to know who is in or out?   Is it that we wanted to be able to sit at the table with drunkards tax collectors and sinners, as long as we knew who was who?  Honestly , I’m not really sure, so I put the question to you, is there a Sacred/ Secular divide?


About Jon Nelson

I am just a nobody trying to tell everybody about Somebody [Christ Jesus]!

Posted on November 5, 2013, in ...from Jon, Life, Silly Religion, Theology and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I think there are some things that are sacred because they are Holy. For example, marriage, the bible, the Lord’s supper. But yet, those things have been bastardized, so when/where do you draw the line?

    • Todd,
      You and I have had this cover station for years and I’m so happy to continue it. It seems where I may draw a line other Christian do not, and vice versa. I would tend to agree that those things are sacred to some extent but isn’t it the people within those institutions and not the inanimate objects? I’d love to know your thoughts…

      • Jon,
        I see what you mean. It’s tough to always draw a line on certain subjects; especially with different denominations. I think there are certain intangibles that have to be accepted as pillars of faith. Going with what you said in regards to “it’s the people”, I think it’s important to remember that the people are the Church. The bridegroom of our savior. With that, I think it’s tough to call ourselves holy. But that is what we are called to as believers (Romans 12.) I believe holy and sacred are a journey, not a destination. As a husband I have defiled my wife and my marriage many times over. Through either sin, putting my wife ahead of God, or treating her other than how Christ would treat her. Therefore I can’t honestly call my marriage sacred. But my hearts desire and calling is to make our marriage holy and pleasing and make to offer my wife and our marriage to Christ as a sacrifice. Therefore, our marriage is sacred. Others may disagree, but that is my conviction.
        Going with communion. Our church celebrates communion every Sunday. Growing up a Mennonite brethren and southern baptist this was getting awful close to defiling communion. Second to dancing and alcohol of course. We talked about this in the membership class at church and the pastor brought up the point that any person who doesn’t want to celebrate communion often or it “loses its specialness” needs to look at their own relationship with Christ. Along with that? At the last supper Jesus set the standard of remembrance. But this was an activity, not a meal. So yes, the juice and bread are not essential. They are an immolation of the activity in the time period Christ was on earth. I’d be cool with a swig of OJ and a donut hole. Communion is all about confession, and adoration of Christ.
        All that to say, there are many matters of faith that can be argued as sacred or not. But if we are arguing that, aren’t we just missing the point? How does that further the Kingdom? We have to remember love does, not love talks. I believe challenging and spirited conversation help us dig deep wells in Christ and develop our faith. But those conversations should always spur us on to good deeds. My take aways… Remember who is at the head of it all. Do my best to keep sacred and holy in His sight and He will understand. Hope this answers your question you posed to me. Love you man. And I’m so thankful we can stay in touch.

  2. Well, firstly we have to define our terms. If you mean by ‘sacred’ “That which belongs to God” and ‘secular’ as “everything else,” then by definition there’s a line there. Very few things would be in the former category, methinks.

    If, however, the line is between whether something can be used of God or not, then the opposite is true. Almost everything, then, would be ‘sacred,’ that’s good old Romans 8:28 for you. That would include many things that we might consider very secular, such as music, literature, modern art, violent video games, and business meetings.

    …sorry, sorry. *laughs*

    But I think the best way of thinking of it also stems from Romans. There, we learn that God uses all things for His people’s good, that the natural man can’t please Him in their actions, and that, in a very real sense, the line between profane food and sacred enjoyment lies in the heart of the Christian, not in the food.

    What does this mean? At the risk of sounding a bit of a relativist, I think we can stand on Romans when we say “It depends.” If you derive heavenly joy from some Lady Gaga… I’d question your heart, but in that sense, her music would be ‘sacred.’ By contrast, if it doesn’t speak to you or move you, then it’s ‘secular’- spiritually unprofitable, but not inherently bad. But, and here’s the sticky point… if your conscience speaks against it, and you listen? Then to you, that isn’t just secular- it is sin, and it’s a matter of repentance.

    To sum it up, there is a line between the sacred and the secular. But that line isn’t between ‘us’ and ‘them.’ It is in our own heart. Thus, on one hand, let’s make all that we create and do ‘sacred’- doing them for the Lord, and enjoying the freedom we have in Christ. But let us also be understanding that our sacred experiences may be profane to others, or vice-versa, and we must be prepared to accommodate accordingly.

    • Good word Ben, thanks for the thoughts. I’m so glad to know people are thinking about this in a way that affects us daily. Keep thinking.

  3. I’ve been having this conversation with myself for sometime now. Where does one draw the line for covenant praxis? I do not think that Paul left it to be interpreted by the individual ie. The whole purpose of 1 cor. There is a line. What makes it harder to discern in our time is our complete lack of rootedness to any culture besides that of the market. The reason christian is an adjective is so that the merchandise is directed to the correct market for which it was produced. Why else do we speak of secular and sacred mostly in terms of purchases? In our culture its what you buy that you endorse. In order to really get to the answer of this question we need to figure out why we are asking it in the first place. We have lost our roots.

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