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Secular: Oh no he just used the S word.......


Secularity derives from a Latin word meaning "of the age". The Christian doctrine that God exists outside time led medieval Western culture to use secular to indicate separation from specifically religious affairs and involvement in temporal ones. For instance, eating and bathing may be regarded as examples of secular activities, because there may not be anything inherently religious about them.

I got the above from Wikipedia. I typed in the word secular and this is what came up. It is very interesting. There has for long been a divide when it comes to music, especially in the community of black folks between secular and gospel. I think it comes from an improper understanding.

Most people who are fervent in their faith take secular to always mean the same thing as carnal, worldly, fleshly, immoral and sinful activity. This is not true because for example most of the congregation have secular jobs. If you apply the thinking of what secular has been defined as then the whole congregation is secular all week except Sunday (or anytime they’re in church engaging in spiritual activity) this is faulty thinking with partial understanding and it has bothered me.

I have found out that some people cannot conceive of a Christian just being an artist. Some folks feel if a Christian is artistically gifted (music just being one of the many artistic expressions that exist) then they must exclusively create gospel music. They see music as primarily as evangelical ministry or praise and worship. I think this is so because they believe that secular has to be immoral or carnal but not all “secular” activity is that.

Most Christians can accept professions such as being an accountant, a medical doctor, lawyer, a banker but the moment someone says they’re a professional musician it becomes a problem especially if they’re not professional musicians working in the gospel music industry solely. God forbid they be a session singer or an instrumentalist or movie score creator or a music teacher in a school that is not teaching gospel songs. God forbid they be like Kim Burrell who has been known as a gospel artist but now is someone about to create an inspirational/secular album. You will be automatically judged and marginalized even before they’ve heard any song on the project by some folks. It will be said of you, that you’re doing it for the money and to glorify self. I mean really? How do they know your intentions all of a sudden? So her doing that means she is renouncing Christianity? Does that mean she’s abandoning her moral compass and promoting immorality? I need to get this album and check it!

On the other hand concerning Kim Burrell, it probably could be said that she is switching things up in order to sell more units. I have not really been a fan of her music except for her first album “Everlasting Life” which was excellent. The other ones after that were just not for me. What can I say? To each their own. Only God truly knows her intentions. If her new album is bangin’with wholesome content, then hey it’s all good to me as a lover of music.

I think there is an idea that God frowns on all “secular” music. If this was the case then surely the book “Song of Solomon” would have not been left in the bible. The book is purely about the love between a man and a woman. It is not like the book of Psalms which is exclusively a book of songs of praise and worship with God being the focus. In Song of Solomon God is not even mentioned once, the lovers focus on each other. It is a book of romantic love lyrics and as much as people spiritualize it and say its about God’s love for his people and a foreshadow of Christ and the church (which also is a way you can read that book and actually should) it is STILL a romantic song book and that’s great! I don’t think God frowns on that! So if Kim Burrell for example does music in that vein about love, why would it be frowned on if she keeps it wholesome and tasteful? What’s wrong with doing music that is not exclusively evangelical or Praise and worship? What’s wrong with inspirational and positive music? Yes God frowns on the carnal, immoral, sinfulness and worldliness of this age but surely creating art with wholesome and tasteful content is good right? Doesn’t that glorify God? I think there is a place for all kinds of artistic expression. Am I wrong for thinking this way?

As for secular, the truth is we all engage in secular activity and secular does not mean the same thing as carnal, worldly and sinful. Secular just means any activity that is not exclusively religious. Eating an apple is secular; being an accountant is a secular job, being a medical doctor is a secular profession. We all eat, drink and sleep and since those activities are not exclusively religious they can be described secular, so I guess we’re all secular then everyday. LOL. The fact is though you might not be OF the world; you are still IN the world.

I think what we would be ideal is embracing a worldview that looks at the big picture. Our lives in this world is a whole thing and not separated in these little independent departments. When you believe in the gospel and you have a relationship with God it affects your WHOLE life so I don’t see why my art shouldn’t reflect my whole experience of living in this world. I think there lies the challenge. It is allowing God into all the little departments of our lives and having them transformed and affected forever whether they are secular or spiritual “departments”. God wants to make us whole. Do you WANT to be whole?


Plumbline said...

iEndorse! My thoughts,exactly! I have really had to wonder how effective even the 'Evangelical Music' has been. I know that definitely, people would have been 'reached' one way or the other...but to what extent is d reach?

Olanator said...

Three things Mr Nova:

1. "We all eat, drink and sleep and since those activities are not exclusively religious they can be described secular, so I guess we’re all secular then everyday."

What does the Bible say of eating and drinking bro?
1 Cor 10:31: Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
The problem the secular vs religious dichotomy causes is that we have people wrongly separating Christian living from everyday life. Paul said whatever we do, even in our snoring (hyperbole), we do unto the Lord. Our shortcomings don't make this passage any more relevant or applicable.

2. Although I agree that the Songs of Songs are about a mans love for his wife, whether directly or not you have downplayed the spiritual aspect of the book, regardless of your acknowledgment of the spiritual. In the light of the New Testament (Ephesians 5 for example) we see that marriage is a mirror of Christs relationship with the Church. We are His bride. We see that marriage is a Godly institution, it is something that God calls us to unless He has called us to a life of celibacy. So in the light of that, we see how S.O.S also has a deeper meaning as a foreshadow of Christ's love for the Church. New Testament revelation (even Hosea actually) testify to that.

3. "The fact is though you might not be OF the world; you are still IN the world. "
This is an argument I've seen thrown about recklessly in recent times. I would be cautious using it personally but each to their own on that one. However, merely saying that does not negate the fact that we are called to separate from certain things, worldly, carnal things. The problem doesn't lie in whether or not the thing is secular. The issue lies on the level of carnality involved in or around that very thing.

I don't want to get into the meat of the discussion (secular vs gospel etc), but I just wanted to raise those points.

Hope they were clear,

Blessings bro!

Olanator said...

I meant any LESS relevant or applicable....Apologies.

Jendella. said...

Mr Nova,

Not much to say apart from:
My sentiments exactly!

Karl Nova said...

lol thanks Stephen Olanator. I totally agree with you concerning 1 Cor 10:31. I wish we all just kept it at that but somewhere down the line in I would say "western thinking" the division has been made between secular and religious which has resulted in strange ways of seeing things as sinful when they are not necessarily so. Secular is viewed as sinful by most period. That word simply says carnal and sinful to most.

I'm not downplaying the Spiritual aspect of Song of Solomon but highlighting that romantic love in its proper context is not frowned on by God and when Solomon wrote this Song of Solomon it was not from the spiritual viewpoint we read from though God saw it fit for it to express his truth. I did mention it foreshadows Christ and his bride and God and his people. People downplay the romantic aspect I guess out of not wanting to be carnal or worldly or seen as less holy.

I am not saying we shouldn't be separate from carnal and worldliness that goes without saying. I mean my last paragraph sums it up. If we allow God in all areas of our life how can we be anything BUT separate from the world?

ArlettaUNLEASHED said...

Not the S-word...Shame on you Karl, naughty

Leine O'kenze said...

Hi, I've just stumbled on this by accident and well, I really like your open mindedness.
I love linguistics (studying the origin of words) so that's why I carried on reading after I realised it wasn't what I was looking for :)
This is an eye opener, although I've been questioning the reason for the divide between Gospel and Inspiraitional music for a while now. Taking it one step further (including Secular music in the debate) is genious. Thanks for doing the research and sharing it with the world.

Leine x

Karl Nova said...

thanks a lot! I really appreciate your comment! much love!

Anonymous said...

I remeber the idea of going to a dance club being a sin literally. Christians do not go to clubs apparently, they further relate it to being drunk, the dress code, and you know whatever sexual things that might happen in clubs. So if your going to do secular music, to be played in a club that all those things happen, some christians get upset about it. I remember this from back home. But i think the reason why some religions or faiths put these strict rules(which even the religious leaders break), is to keep people in check. It is more like do as i say and not as i do but that is because most of these religions were against certain activities that were considered negative. The world has changed since then, some people are still traditional in these spiritual/religious issues (because they have to keep the movement going at all costs or have to be firm).

Spirituality can be so much an individual concept, infact it is an individual concept if we do alot of self examining and be honest with ourselves and others.

What makes one spiritually fulfilled is not what makes another spiritually fulfilled. But you know when it comes to religion and faith, there is alot of rigidity. The challenge is defining it for yourself and having the courage to accept your definition over someone else's or what is considered acceptable. Personal decision, as long as one can live with themselves with their definition, i mean, we can all have different testimonies to who and what we think God is depending on how we feel, or experience.

The other challenge is whether your definiton will be accepted in a certain group of people eg a church, family, peers etc.., depending on how attached you are to them and value them and how they value and accept you, again it depends on how much you know yourself as an individual and value your self and others' individuality.

These topics are hard and not easy, and you know people will be up in arms and looking at you with side eyes when they come up. LOL!



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