Secularism

Text: Romans 1:28

We live in an increasingly secular society. There are certain challenges that come with this. But what is secularism? Why is a secular society a challenge for Christians? We will consider these questions sin this lesson.

Define “Secularism”

  • Term was invented by George Jacob Holyoake (1817-1906), a British writer – he used the term to describe his views of promoting a social order separate from religion without actively dismissing or criticizing religious belief; this means he was not antagonistic to religion, but he thought it was unnecessary
  • Today, secularism is about limiting or eliminating the influence of religion on society
  • Politically – separation of religion/faith from government institutions, laws, and policies
  • Culturally – separation of religion/faith from public life (faith is private, kept to oneself)
  • Like many things, secularism is inherently progressive

The Separation of Church and State

  • This is good and necessary – the church and the state must be separate
  • Two distinct entities – the church is Christ’s body (Ephesians 1:22-23) and would crush earthly governments (Daniel 2:44); the church upholds the truth (1 Timothy 3:15) and the state punishes evil (Romans 13:4)
  • When Jesus built His church, He never intended it to be allied with or attached to any human government
  • However, this is a “red herring” – secularism is not about separation of church and state, but more than that
  • If we were to stop here, we would agree with the secularists – but they don’t stop here (again, it is progressive)

The Separation of Religion from Government

  • How is this different from the “separation of church and state”? – “separation of church and state” means no attachment between any church and the government; “separation of religion from government” means lawmakers do not rule based upon religious convictions
  • Remember, governments are made up of people – how do those people decide what to do?
  • The secularist believes that those decisions cannot be based upon lawmakers’ religious beliefs (ex: cannot oppose abortion, must support same-sex “marriage,” no Ten Commandments, etc.) – the secularist claims that making laws that are in line with “religion” is like setting up a theocracy
  • Problem with separation of religion from government – no standard anymore; God’s law is the basis of right and wrong (Romans 13:3-4); love is the fulfillment of law (Romans 13:8-10); the Ten Commandments provided a foundation for a properly functioning society (Exodus 20)

The Separation of Faith from Public Life

  • Once the secularists separate religion/faith from government, this is the next step – the way people interact with one another in society should not be influenced by religion (ex: force Christian bakers to participate in same-sex “marriage” ceremonies; transgender bathroom laws, etc.)
  • This is an attempt to force Christians to compartmentalize their faith – limit it to the assemblies of their church
  • Satan has tried to get Christians to do this for a long time – secularism is one of his tools
  • Our entire lives are to be given to the Lord (Romans 12:1-2) – our faith is to be active (James 2:26) and visible (Matthew 5:16)

Results of Secularism

  • As a society becomes more secular, there are certain consequences – these will affect us
  • Disinterest in spiritual things – fewer people want to study/discuss the Bible or attend worship services; we need to continue to sow the seed (Luke 8:5-8); make time to assemble anyway (Hebrews 10:25)
  • Opposition to divine truth – they will scoff at the idea of absolute truth and that truth is from God; we need to hold fast to the standard (2 Timothy 1:13); continue to speak the truth (1 Peter 4:11; Acts 20:27)
  • Persecution of Christians – doesn’t start this way, but will progress to this (2 Timothy 3:12-13); prepare for it (Acts 21:11-14); do not fear (Matthew 10:28); rejoice and glorify God (Acts 5:41-42; 1 Peter 4:16)

Conclusion

  • As we can see around us, we live in an increasingly secular society
  • While it is possible this can be slowed down or reversed, there is a distinct possibility it will not be
  • We need to recognize the challenges of living in a secular society and continue serving the Lord

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