The Lie Of The Sacred And Secular

As a Christian teen deep within evangelical subculture, I grew up very aware of the “sacred/secular” dichotomy. All through middle school, I watched mostly Christian movies, listened to all Christian movies, and read every book at the local Christian bookstore I could get my hands on.

Once I got to high school my taste began to expand.

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As I became exposed to new shows, movies, books, and music, I soon realized that I was consuming a lot of media that people might label “secular”. Far more of an odd realization, I really liked some of it—and some of said movies, books, and songs resonated with me more than some “Christian” movies, books, and songs.

How was I supposed to make sense of this—I often wondered. As a Christian, how ought I view these “secular” forms of media? And how was I supposed to make sense of the fact that they weren’t all dirty and depraved the way Christians often portray “secular” media?

Now, at eighteen (almost nineteen), I’ve finally made sense of my teenage confusion. And, I came to one very big realization—there is no such thing as sacred and secular. 

This was a lie that I bought into for a long time, and at times, still catch myself in, but over time, I’ve come to realize that this view is far from Biblical, and more of a modern construct than anything. We are to evaluate media based on whether there’s something of value to be found in it, not based on whether or not it’s creator identifies as a Christian or sets out to make a specifically “Christian” movie.

Philippians 4:8 says “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

By this definition, there are some things that we should not allow ourselves to be exposed to. Movies with extreme gratuitous violence or near pornographic scenes should be steered clear of, and music that degrades people and disrespects basic values should not be found on our playlists.

Nonetheless, this is clearly not a warning against anything “secular“.

One of my favorite songs is a song that’s technically classified as secular, called Hanging By A Moment—a song seems to allude to God in a very real, honest, and vivid way—as the artist sings lyrics like this.

Desperate for changing, starving for truth, I’m closer to where I started, when chasing after you…I’m falling even more in love with you…forgetting all I’m lacking, completely incomplete, I’ll take your invitation, you take all of me…

Many singers—including Hunter Hayes, Owl City, and Carrie Underwood, do the same thing. Others, sing about things like love and life, in a clean, thoughtful, and beautiful way.

Whatever is true, noble, right, and pure. 

Many movies like The Blindside or Raise Your Voice have positive encouraging messages about family or being the best version of yourself.

Whatever is true, noble, right, and pure. 

Many books like To Kill A Mockingbird and The Outsiders tell stories about how under the surface, no matter who we are or where we come from, we all have the same basic needs and wants.

Whatever is true, noble, right, and pure. 

Perhaps it’s not so much about whether a form of media is “Christian” or “secular”—perhaps it’s whether we’d be comfortable consuming it if Jesus was in the room with us. Jesus wasn’t only found in church, but He was always spending his time in God honoring pursuits. The same should be able to be said of us. Biblically, there’s no such thing as sacred and secular.

In the end it all comes down to the heart of the matter.

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31 

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Author: Courtney

Christian. Bibliophile. Britt Nicole Fan. Future author and songwriter.

8 thoughts on “The Lie Of The Sacred And Secular”

  1. Yea, many people are strictly religious and can’t see God in anything outside of the church. Funny thing is, it’s often the happenings within the church that warrant more or the same concern. If a song is not by a christian artist, but it makes me feel good in a way that the Bible condones, then I’m not certain what the issue is. Ultimately, I try to filter every single part of my life through God’s word and go from there. There’s also a level of discernment that is needed too. We were often asked this question growing up in church: If God were physically sitting in the room, would you feel comfortable doing what you are doing?
    I think that’s also a safe way for us to check ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wonderful thoughts Celestial! It is definitely important to practice discernment, and ask yourself “What Would Jesus Read/Watch/Listen to?” I love your rule of thumb about asking yourself of you’d feel comfortable if He was physically in the room – that applies to anything really! Hope to hear from you again on the blog!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post Courtney! I didn’t grow up in church, so I was all “secular.” Sometimes I worry because my writing still reflects the messy parts of life that Christian books and movies often leave out. But isn’t that where Jesus finds and transforms us? I think discernment is huge here. I’m not listening to Eminem or watching most rated R movies, but I do love Twenty One Pilots and “This is Us” (and the song you listed, so good!). Sorry for the rant 😘 God bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s OK! Great thoughts – Jesus definitely meets us in our messy parts and I think it’s great that you’re transparent!

      And we’re in the same boat – I’ve never listened (on purpose) to explicit music or watched a rated R movie in my life! Thanks for stopping by and sharing!😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is quite a sensitive topic to discuss but I’m intrigued by the way you tackled it. I agree with you that it’s not every ‘secular’ media that is bad and we need to be more mindful about the things we absorb, asking ourselves WWJD. Wonderful post Courtney!

    Liked by 1 person

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