The Sanctification Of The Secular: Part 1

“To the pure, all things are pure…” (Titus 1:15a)

Thanks to all of you who answered my secular/sacred questions from Monday and Tuesday, and thanks to those of you who didn’t post an answer but did think about it in your minds. This kind of question has actually been debated for centuries: should we separate the secular from the sacred? Should we designate certain objects for secular use and other objects for sacred use?

I’ll answer this in two parts. Today, I’ll focus more on the theory. In Part 2, I’ll focus more on the application.

In short, my viewpoint is that we should not distinguish the sacred from the secular. Assigning a sacred/secular kind of spiritual distinction to external objects abdicates us from our responsibility to live according to what actually pleases God. Also, it’s precisely this sacred/secular distinction in our society that makes it hard for non-believers to come into a faith in Christ.

Confused? It’s easier to explain this using some of the great quotes I’ve read.

“Everything depends upon the state of our interior lives and our heart’s relation to God. The man that walks with God will see and know that for him there is no strict line separating the sacred from the secular. He will acknowledge that there lies around him a world of created things that are innocent in themselves; and he will know, too, that there are a thousand human acts that are neither good nor bad except as they may be done by good or bad men.” — A. W. Tozer, famous preacher, in the book “The Dwelling Place Of God” (read full text)

“It is a myth that life is divided into the sacred and the secular. The truth is that all of life is sacred to Christians. …… Non-Christians are happy to believe that life is divided into compartments. Such people think, for example, that prayer is wrong in a “secular” place like a public school. On the other hand they think it’s okay to talk about religious matters in church, but don’t like pastors addressing political issues from the pulpit. Dividing life into sacred and secular elements suits the nonbeliever’s worldview because it allows them to disregard the holy, and box-in people who do regard it.” — from (read full text)

“It is much easier to pronounce spiritual virtue upon external things. This way we have no responsibility as Christians for our actions. …… In this same way, it is easier to put all things into the categories of sacred, secular or satanic than to allow our hearts to be holy. If we don like some form of music or art, we can easily dismiss it into the category of secular or satanic even when the artist(s) is intending their art to be dedicated to God, and sacred. This often happens in the case of contemporary Christian art. Many even believe that any contemporary music, for example, cannot possibly be Christian. Some go as far as saying all contemporary Christian music is satanic.” — from the notes of a class I took at Worship Arts Conservatory

It’ll become clearer in Part 2 when I apply this to more practical situations… stay tuned.