“Secular” isn’t a Genre.

I’m a Christian.  I love Jesus, and do my best to serve Him in what I do.  In this journey as a Christian though, I have heard secular come up in sermons and casual conversations as a genre.  Christian is a genre, Religion is a genre, but that doesn’t mean that is the case with Secular.  As a writer this drives me nuts.

When classifying everything that isn’t overtly Christian or religious as a part of the phantom “Secular” genre, it automatically implies that these stories are somehow subpar or less godly.  In the Christian community there is a general consensus that Christian books, movies, and music should be number one, and other genres should be secondary.

While I love Jesus more than words can express, I rarely find a connection to the Lord through “Christian” entertainment.  Honestly, I find it subpar in quality.  Obviously, this isn’t true in all cases, but it is far too common and rarely admitted.  I have heard the argument that quality doesn’t matter, it’s the message.  Oh really?  Try telling that to any author that’s ever lived.  I connect with the Lord best through things that make me ponder, think, rejoice that He is the way He is and not some awful pagan god that was once worshipped.

Thinking anything that doesn’t wear the “Christian” label is necessarily “Secular” also opens the door to the possibility of the audience missing the messages present.  Just because something isn’t thrusting Christian ideas in the audience’s face doesn’t mean the artist isn’t any less valuable or godly.

Matthew 25:31-46 is the passage used by believers to justify condemning another person’s tastes.  Yes, it is true, we believers need to guard our hearts.  However, if you are going to apply this passage to entertainment choices, I would submit everyone in the west is guilty of consuming media that others would say is ungodly.  We say we use Scripture to determine what is an isn’t Godly.  However, when some are convicted that they shouldn’t read Lord of the Rings because it has magic, where does one draw the line of condemnation?  This is where the Christian genre comes in.  Some say Christians must only consume Christian media.  Many times, Christian movies and fictional books are lacking in quality.  I think this is because there is an argument within Christian culture that quality doesn’t matter the message does.  Well, quality impacts the message, so yes it does.

Recently, I came across a blog post that gave ten signs you might be a lukewarm Christian. One of which was that you listen primarily to “secular” music. Secular music does not make a believer less faithful than Christian music.  As with everything, discernment must be used, but we also must consider everything effects people differently.  The words of Jesus come to mind when it comes to this logic, “Beware the yolk of the Pharisees.”

2 thoughts on ““Secular” isn’t a Genre.

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  1. 1st class message here. If you stop and think about it, books like Lord of the Rings, and the entire Narnia series are “Secular,” despite being written b two Christian men. Recently I had to sit back and ask if my “Lawman” series are Christian. By every definition I found, the answer is no. Despite having a Christian message, and despite strong Biblical and Christian values espoused, what I have doesn’t fit all the check marks. Will is man who found what he needs to survive and overcome in a desperate battle. He firmly believes in Christs message, and repeatedly has to apply it to whatever he’s facing.
    The part that clearly cause it not to be labeled “Christian” is that the world Will lives in is pretty dark. He faces murderers, drug pushers, and human trafficking to name a few. None of these are nice worlds and can be taboo in some circles. He’s killed people, and will kill again to protect himself and others. When asked, he’d explain that the bible says to turn the other cheek. it says nothing about dying without fighting for you life. In that respect, he identifies a lot with King David and some of the judges of old.
    So, some of those views most definitely do not fit the mold.
    That said, how far would Lord of the Rings or Narnia if the central characters allowed themselves to be steamrolled over without a fight. The books would have ended about page ten.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly! Many times “taboo” topics in Christian circles need to be explored, even if we are Christian writers. I’m under the impression that Christian culture doesn’t generally understand that writing, reading, watching a character isn’t an endorsement of behavior. Real people swear, real people struggle, real people don’t live up to their moral standards. Real people commit sexual transgressions and so forth. Obviously there are stories that take things too far and are garbage. When violence isn’t a consequence of evil but the point of the story then that’s crossing into toxic territory. However, it seems like many fellow believers cannot distinguish between the two sometimes.

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