The Meaning of the Word “Secular”

“Secular” used to mean “outside the church.”  That is, if something took place outside the authority of the organized church, it was considered “secular.”  It could still have very much to do with God.  It just meant that the church did not control the activity.  It was a way Americans had of allowing God into their public and social lives without allowing sectarian differences among believers to spoil the atmosphere.

In our day, however, “secular” has come to mean “outside God.”  That is, if something is “secular” it means that nothing in the activity or sphere is to be said to, or about, God.  What used to keep denominational wars out of public life is now being used to keep God out of public life.  The whole reason for keeping the sectarian squabbles out of public life was so that the peace of God could be enjoyed – not rejected!

Perhaps needless to say, “secular” has had a huge change in meaning.

The “church versus secular” distinction has been replaced by a “God versus secular” distinction.

Likewise, “separation of church and state” has come to mean, and require, in the minds of many folks, “separation of God and state.”  This is an odd conclusion for a country that has “In God We Trust” inscribed on its money!

All of it just goes to show the steady, hard-to-notice drift that occurs in society and in our lives when we don’t continue, day by day, seeking our Creator.

I remember being warned when at the beach that more dangerous than the waves was the undertow.

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