Contend Earnestly: The Use of Secular Outlets

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Use of Secular Outlets

Historically what I have found in my life is that every time I read, listen or watch secular media, it seems to always be better done than Christian ones. I hate to even make a distinction between the two, but there are definitely things done that have a "faith" distinction and ones that are generally done out of secular convictions as a whole. What is bothersome is that so many Christians believe that those businesses or outlets deemed "Christian" are better morally than those that are not. Even going so far as to get mad at some Christians who are artists or own businesses and refuse to make their core business "Christian."

Here is what I mean. If someone is a music artist and they do not sing about Christian themes, Christians get mad at them and say that they are not "defending the faith." This seems odd to me. What is also odd to me are things like the "Christian Business Directory" where every other page has someone's logo with the Ichthus worked into their logo. Am I only supposed to listen to, read and work with Christians? Or those who say that they are Christians? Seems like if I were to do this I would be keeping my world in a bubble and not reaching out to the world in ways that are quite easy and natural.

Recently a buddy of mine has challenged me to read more secular books. To be honest, it didn't really interest me too much, but I decided to take up the challenge. I read "The Road" from Cormac McCarthy and now am on my second book of his, which I almost done with called, "Blood Meridian." Although there are postmodern themes throughout, the writing is extraordinary. I have gotten used to reading mostly theological books and forgotten the art, again, the art of writing. Cormac is by far the best writer that I have read in a long time, besides Dr. Seuss of course.

This got me thinking, "How many secular outlets should we expose ourselves to?" Some would seemingly say, "none." Which is interesting. Some push movies like Fireproof and Facing the Giants while acting like any other movie in the theatres are of the devil. Further proof was seen by those who refused to watch "R" rated movies until The Passion of the Christ came out and was rated R, the ban was quickly lifted. As a side, I turned off Facing the Giants after 15 minutes, probably the worst movie I had seen in a while. Most will say that the reason that they don't watch secular movies, listen to secular music or read secular books, is not always because of content, but also because of the money going to twisted people who use it for their sinful means. I have seen the same thing with Christians boycotting Target, Ford and Disney because they support certain things that the Christian community would not adhere to.

Here is my question: Do you do research at every other place you shop to make sure that they are spending their money in only ways that you deem appropriate? Seems like a double standard to me. So, the Christian starts to really show how separate they desire to be from the world to call certain outlets as "okay" and others as "sinful." The problem with this complete distinction is that it is seriously impossible unless you become Amish, and the other problem with this would be that we see Paul teaching something differently.

I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.
1 Corinthians 5:9-13

Paul tells us that it is good to associate with immoral people. Why? So you can win them to Jesus. So that you can show them Jesus. How does it sound when you get together with a non-Christian and the conversation starts and you go down the list of all the companies, books, and media outlets that you boycott? You might as well just tell them that you are boycotting the very non-Christian that you are trying to win for Christ. You are really telling them, "I am boycotting YOU!" What is funny is that people do this and then say, "you wanna come to church with me?" I am surprised more Christians don't just get laughed at or punched in the face.

Paul even quotes secular scholars in 1 Cor 15:33; Titus 1:2; and Acts 17:28 to get his points across. This does not mean that Paul agreed with these scholar's world view but he did very much know their teachings and the view put forth by the secular scholars and their writings.

Lastly, looking to what God allows in great works of art in movies, music and literature shows us more of his glory, not less. When looking, listening and reading even secular artists, it shows us the greatness of our God that he allows those who don't know him show forth the talent that God allows within them. As I read someone, who I believe to be an agnostic in McCarthy, I think of how great the glory of my God is who allows such a man write in such a beautiful and descriptive style that snatches my attention.

I believe many Christians are actually losing out on God's glory being shown if they decide to stay away from "secular" art and only look to "Christian" outlets for this art and business. Because if you see God's glory in Thomas Kinkade paintings, you might want to take off your straight jacket and come out of your padded cell. At least secular art gives a realistic view of life instead of quaint, fake cottage with no ills to be found. :::throwing up:::

I am still learning and enjoying what I have found apart from Christian outlets and enjoy to see God's glory shown among people who would have nothing to do with the very person that gave them their talent.

Remember that all things have been created by Him and for Him. May we enjoy the things that are from His hands and for His glory. Of course not those things that are sin, but those things where we can see the light of his glory shining among the nations. May we look at these things, and cry out "thank you Father, may your name be pronounced, even among these people who do not know you."

I just wish that Christians would use more logic in their decision making and less emotional ones. Remember, just because something or someone has an Ichthus in their logo, on their CD cover or on their book flap, doesn't make them good or Christian, it just makes us the sucker of good advertising.


Anonymous said...


I feel your pain!

You asked:::> Am I only supposed to listen to, read and work with Christians?

I would answer "no". I would apply these verses to my answer:::>

1Co 5:9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people--
1Co 5:10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.
1Co 5:11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler--not even to eat with such a one.
1Co 5:12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?

I like Paul's concluding remarks as it put your question and hopefully my answer into perspective?

1Co 5:13 God judges those outside. "Purge the evil person from among you."

What I believe God showed Paul is helpful to us, daaaaah! We cannot do more for the world of souls under the control of the devil as he is certainly the "god" of this world. We are not to live "with" this world but we are to come out from among them and be separate from them, living in this world, not of it.

However, when the world comes into our area where our judgment applies and we do not execise our Gift of Judgment, we profane God's Good Name, Who gave us this Gift.

We are in the world, not of it.

We do not have to "judge" the world. We do have to "judge" those within our Biblically sanctioned communities though. If we do not, we will end up turning our heads from the kinds of sin Paul was dealing with there at Corinth!

Leaven only works when it is in the bread dough. It is just leaven and useless when it is alone!!

Paul further writes in Chapter 6:

1Co 6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,
1Co 6:10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
1Co 6:11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
1Co 6:12 "All things are lawful for me," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful for me," but I will not be enslaved by anything.

I have no mandate or warrant to "save" or "add" to my community anyone. That's God's business just like the womb of our Christian ladies and mothers and wives are His to open and close!

We should stay out of other's business and mind our own!

Anonymous said...

Living in Australia, we do not have this 'Christianised' culture of ichthus signage on everything. Actually being in such a secularised society probably means that those who name the name of Christ are possibly genuine Christians rather than the huge nominalism you have in the States.

Getting back to your beef. Mark Driscoll recently made the comment in Australia that the older one gets as a Christian the less non Christian friends one has ... meaning of course that most Christians withdraw into their Christian ghettos to hid ebehind their denomination, church building etc. (not that one's non Christian friends ahve become Christians...)

What is a 'secular outlet'? When did this nature of sacred/secular come about. All of life is given to live to his glory. The church needs a good dose of some Francis Schaeffer wisdom.

As far as supporting Christian bookshops, artists, doctors, butchers, bakers, candlestick makers..... if anyone's work is good quality and equitable and they treat me as a person (and not just a number) then they can get my business.

A lot of what you have said could also be said of the quality of Christian education. Some of the worst quality in art and literature and indeed science (and here even may I say it 'creation science') comes from Christian schools.

Anonymous said...

I like and own Facing The Giants. I'm not sure how you can judge an entire movie when you only watch 15 min of it. Also I loved Fireproof. It ended up being better then I thought it would be. Maybe that makes me a sucker, a sucker for movies with a God honoring message.

Seth McBee said...


Thanks for stopping by and I'll have to watch Fireproof, but if it is anything like the "Left Behind" movie, it will also be turned off in the first 15 minutes, maybe quicker.


As far as Facing the Giants it wasn't difficult to judge the movie in the first 15 minutes. The acting was terrible and the cinematography was very poor.

It might have had a wonderful God honoring message, but that doesn't make it an overall well executed piece of theatric art. So the message might be God honoring but the artistic side of it was not.

Big difference.

Anonymous said...

Well Fireproof and Facing the Giants were both put together by a Baptist Church. They did both movies for less then a million. In Fireproof Kirk Cameron didn't even get paid. That being said they did pretty good with both movies considered the budget they had to work with. They were made with pretty much all voluntary staff. I own several movies that would spend the money it took to make both of these movies just to feed and house the actors in their blockbuster movies. I find that those that are highly critical of Christian movies typically don't know what all goes into making a movie (this may not be the case for you). It is often the case that if you want a big budget you need to compromise the message and some groups refuse to do that. Left Behind did do that by having heretic/trinity denier TD Jakes in their movies (at least the first 2 I believe) but I'll save that for a different post.

Seth McBee said...

I understand the budgets that go into these things but just because you have small budgets doesn't mean it has to be terrible or that you should "go ahead" even if it stinks.

Just my opinion. I do know that many people liked the film as well, but I thought Facing the Giants was pretty bad.

No matter the budget

C said...

My mom started watching Facing the Giants with my dad after a friend loaned it to her -- she knew nothing about it and within the first 2 minutes she looked at my dad and said "Is this a Christian movie?"
It's a shame that the movies that churches have made have been so poorly done -- we should strive for so much better and if we can't do it well, then maybe it's better to not do it at all.

Tim Faulted said...

It amazes me how we have turned "Christian" into an adjective to describe things that are palatable to us.

Anonymous said...

You did a great job of defending your "opinion" but that doesn't have any bearing on the subject. If you want to patronize the world, go ahead, I won't post blogs ranting against your decision but you are playing Biblical gymnastics when you try to use scripture to argue your position. There is absolutely no Biblical proposition against Christians wanting to do business with other Christians! I agree that any marketing that uses Christianity as a "tactic" for making money would be unethical and unscriptural but that doesn't mean that the thousands of Godly business folks out there are wrong for the open display of allegiance to Christ. The problem with blogs is that people can give their opinion on limitless amounts of topics and therefore run oun out of substance.

Seth McBee said...

Thanks for dropping by. I would ask that you be more specific. And my opinion does bear weight, because this is my blog :)

I will tell you that I still stand by what I wrote.

I also think that the passage that I brought up in 1 Corinthians is very applicable to the situation.

I also never said that those with a "Christian" business are necessarily bad, I just hope their motives are pure.

I get tired of people bagging on those who are Christian and don't decide to put the Ichthus in their name.

If you want to be more specific or bring verses to light to show me I am wrong, I am always up for that. But your comment was ALL opinion and no use your own logic and your comment was very poor and "without substance."

If you want to bring Scripture and let me know where I was wrong...please do.

Anonymous said...


By way of preface, let me say that I think our differences are practical, not Theological. From a review of your blog and the links provided, I'm rather confident in our Doctrinal unity. With that said please trust that I intend for all of my comments to be constructive.My comments about your opinion: Simply put, the fact that it's your blog doesn't make it right, although much of what you write inasmuch as it is Biblical, would certainly be "right". When I say opinion, I am referring to things like quoting from I Corinthians 5 and making the "application" that this means we should make buying decisions based on this principle. The passage clearly teaches concepts regarding discipline in the Church (in accord with Matthew 18). With this line of thinking, Galatians 6:9-10 would seem to imply we should work with Christians (note the word "especially"). Correct me if I missed something, but Paul did not say "do business with immoral people" he simply qualified the message of the text. In my business (at this point in our discussion, I'm remaining anonymous but I want to assure you that I'm considerably qualified to speak on this topic) I have met hundreds of Christian Business owners and many understand the Burkett principles (Business By The Book). However, the majority of Christians (professing) are not doing business with excellence - a significant of agreement for you and me! Regardless of those facts, what I mean by our practical differences can be traced to our conclusions. So, rather than speak for you, let me close with my conclusion: when confronted with a choice between two businesses, christian and non-christian, and both excell in character, integrity and excellence, I will give my business to the Christian and unless you are able to show me a scriptural mandate to the contrary, I find absolutely no compelling reason to do otherwise (admittedly, my testimony to the "lost" business would be a good motive but not one of primacy).

"In essentials unity, in non-essentials charity, in all things love" or something along those lines!

Seth McBee said...

As a whole...I completely agree with your comment. Look at the post again and I think you will agree with it more than you think.

My main point in the post was to not just pick a business because it is "Christian" but pick it based on the business and also the impact you might have with the business if they are, in fact, "non-Christian".

I will tell you that I am a business owner and I don't agree with a lot of what Burkett holds dear. He actually makes many blunders when it comes to financial planning.

Although 1 Corinthians 5 speaks to discipline that is not the entirety of that passage. Paul is very strong in his wording on associating with those that are not of the church. In verse 9 when Paul says,
"not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral"

This, not at all is a very strong reference to basically say that they are "not even close" or "missing the point" if they decide to not associate with those people.

My point in this post is to show people that to try and judge business on whether or not the people who run them are Christians are not is a weird way to judge a business. Because, again, people decide to not shop at Target or Wal Mart because they are okay with homosexual relationships or they say "Happy Holidays." This is absolutely frustrating in my eyes that the Christian continues to withdrawal from the world instead of engaging it.

My clients know that I am Christian, and that it is apart of my life. But, we never would call ourselves a "Christian" firm, but a firm ran by Christians. We engage the world instead of running from it. (I am not saying you are running, but just making a general statement regarding others mentioned in the post)

Let me know if there is anything more. I don't mind the discussion, so no worries there. But do know, that this is something that is close to my heart as I am a small business owner and have been for "many" years.

In love.

Seth McBee said...

By the way, I did some searching and found out where you work and why you are fighting so vicariously for this...because you want to stay anonymous though I will respect that.

Anonymous said...

I'm still not sure what you want to accomplish. I'm fine with your intentional "lifestyle evangelism" and would agree it is part of our overall mission. But I'm not understanding why you have such a problem with Christians doing business with Christians. We both agree on the call to excellence in business for the Christian and we agree that advertising one's business as Christian for the sole or atleast primary purpose of attracting "fish" from the bait. is inappropriate. However, it doesn't have to be "pick one". I can still be in the world and make an impact for the Kingdom and at the same time, do business with a brother (let say a plumber) who desires to run his business with integrity and based on biblical principles and who has a Godly testimony in the community and who uses some of his revenue to support the Kingdom. The adjective "Christian" is not the problem; intentions, motivations and issues of the heart are where the focus should be. Some Godly business people I know like to say they are a Christian business or call their company by a Christian name (Alpha and Omega Painting) simply because they are proud of "who" they serve. Now come on Seth, we're arguing (in a positive way)the "the dot and tittle" when we agree on the substance. Scripture could be "used" on either side but it would be in application of the text only, not original meaning. Since you "found me out", you should also be able to find my number, I would love to talk. One of the reasons I don't use my identity is because I don't want to seem duplicitous; using your blog for my advertising. Merry Christmas!

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