BECOMING SECULAR

churchDictionary.com offers five definitions, but this is supposedly what is meant by the word “secular”.

secular  adjective
of or pertaining to worldly things or to things that are not regarded as religious, spiritual, or sacred; temporal: secular interests.

Despite the definition, “becoming secular” is in fact a religious choice. Don’t think so? Then explain these lines from different news articles.

Do Americans lie about how much they go to church, even if they don’t belong to one? Do people lie when they ask us to take the results of polls too seriously? Do we have satisfactory answers for all our questions?

What should matter to each of us is our own personal choices and the example we set for others, particularly our children. Becoming secular, ignoring God, is a choice. Becoming secular is a choice that says the belief in God simply does not matter, that the subject of God is unimportant. That’s a fool’s choice. If eternity awaits us — eternal life or damnation — then lazily choosing damnation is a fool’s choice.

Consider this passage.

Matthew 25:31-46 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Final Judgment

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Observe why the Son of Man, the King, condemns the goats. Was it because of anything they did wrong? No. He condemns them because they did not care about His brothers and sisters. He condemns them for a sin of omission. He condemns them for indifference, their indifference to the suffering of others.

Indifference to God: is that what it means to become secular? Isn’t the point of secularism indifference to the existence of God? Doesn’t that choice have profound religious significance? If God does not matter us, if we cannot see evidence of His handiwork in Creation, feel Him at work in our hearts, hear His voice in the Holy Bible, then what could possibly arouse us to love and care for one His brothers and sisters? If God does not matter to us, if through indifference we allow ourselves to become secular, doesn’t that make us one of the goats?

35 thoughts on “BECOMING SECULAR

  1. I agree. I thought Warren did a good job with that. The usual media-sponsored debates generally are not, because of the format, a particularly good way to measure the candidates. I think I would prefer something a bit more (although not entirely) like the Lincoln/Douglas debates, debates that you resurrected a few months back. Have a theme (e.g., foreign affairs, tax/budget policy, social welfare etc). Give one guy a long bloc of time for opening, the other guy a chance to respond, and then rebuttal. Alternate who goes first from one debate to the next.

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  2. Thanks, Tom, for reinforcing my point that either end of the spectrum (and all the bits in the middle) can fall into the bad habit of invoking religion in politics. The link is a good example of that. It is understandable that if a candidate decides to engage in a public interview with a religious leader as visible as someone like Rick Warren, he/she will be prepped to but a bit of a religious tinge on things. So I am a bit indulgent in that context. Nonetheless, as a political calculus, “liberal” (whatever that means) candidates or even Democratic centrists like Clinton and Obama (which is essentially what he campaigned as, particularly in 2008) don’t get as much mileage out of religious references these days and have fewer incentives to drag religion down into politics than do “conservative” (whatever that means) candidates. My point on demographics in my 24 May 0839 comment holds up pretty well. We can test it in the upcoming 2014 mid-term Congressional elections and survey where religious themes are injected into campaigns, and which candidate raises them. I think it’s fairly well acknowledged that Republicans (many of whom fancy themselves to be “conservative”) are trying this time around to avoid the disappointments of the past couple of cycles by finding governance themes to run on for a change. I consider this a step forward for the Party. I suspect, however, that some people just won’t be able to help themselves and will reach for the cheap invocation of religious issues into the debates. We can see how it plays out and talk about it in November.

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    1. Rick Warren actually provided each of the candidates an opportunity to express themselves on important issues without the childish antics that too many reporters insist upon. On the whole, Warren staged one of the most dignified presidential debates in history, but we must step forward. 🙄

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