That is the basic question of this blog post. Why do we tend to separate the faith part of our lives and everything else? This doesn’t have to be real deep but I would suggest that there are some good reasons for doing so. If you don’t read any farther than this, just go to the comments below and answer the question posed in the title.
I started looking at the two main blogs I author, a faith blog (called Damascus), and one called My Life in LA (now combined into this one blog), and started thinking about how and why we often separate or put up barriers in our life between our Christian beliefs and faith, and our secular or culturally driven part of our life. This is not a new discussion, just comes up from time to time and I thought this time I would write it down.
We All Live Our Faith and Cultural Life Differently
If you say you don’t, I would love to hear from you, because I think if we take an honest look at ourselves, we all do this in one form or another. We try not to, and we try to keep our beliefs alive in everything we do, not just on Sunday morning, but it isn’t always easy. It isn’t always easy because we, for the most part, live in the society and culture of our time. Most of us don’t live in a closet.
We can’t escape it, if we are alive and breathing, most of us have a cell phone, or an Internet connection, or cable TV, or a car, or a washer/dryer, or own an iPod and listen to Coldplay, or all the other things that we tend to collect by being alive in this world today. Notice the arrows on the top of the whiteboard.Â We do exchange these from one to the other, but we also put God in the square box too.
The Stuff We Collect, Does It Help?
Does all this stuff help our faith or hurt it, or does it even matter? There are several sects of society you can look at and see them living without the modern conveniences we have created, like the Amish, Buddhists, Monks, or even parts of Islam and Orthodox Jews.
My wife and I work part time at a thrift store and the sheer volume to “stuff” that we see come through the building is just mind boggling. All the things that were nice and expensive in its day, now discarded as useless and worthless to someone (a new found treasure for others). I often look at how much goes the way of the dumpster and I am amazed at what a consuming society we are now.
My Reasons Why We Separate Our Faith Life
I am sure everyone could have 100’s reasons or answers to this question, but I thought I would just write a few down. I actually think in some ways, it is not a bad thing to separate our faith based lives and our cultural lives. Take my reasons for doing so on my two blogs. I separated the subjects on my blogs basically in faith, and non-faith posts. The non-faith based blog is about my life, so why wouldn’t it include my faith? With blogs at least, you are writing to a specific audience.
Although you do want one to cross over into the other, the people reading this blog probably don’t want to read about photography and farm equipment, or where I am doing my next photo shoot. Likewise, the people interested specifically in photography do not want to read my “Jesus posts” (as a friend of mine recently put it), but either can make the choice to go from one to the other.
Does this mean my heart for the Lord is not in my other blog, certainly not. That is the key, even if we are engaged in a culturally relevant church group, or a college football game, examine where your heart is, that is what is important to the Lord, not how we draw lines in our visible or public life.
A Quick Top Ten of Separating Faith and Culture
- We separate our live out of convenience for ourselves
- We want to fit in to our society
- We don’t think about it and just go with the flow
- We separate on purpose for reasons we deem important
- Money (because money is always on the list)
- To reach people across the faith isle
- Our friends who are not Believers
- Stuff (all the things we collect)
- Embarrassment (not wanting to look like a Jesus freak)
- Government or power requirement
I put in that last one because we still have to recognize that there are part of our world today that still do not want people of faith to be able to express themselves. The Summer Olympics in Beijing China are a good example. The Catholic church is allowed, under specific rules, but that is about it. North Korea, parts of Africa, and other hot spots around the world require people to separate their faith from their culture.
And yes, I would even argue here in the United States we are required to separate our faith from our society. Not in an oppressive manner at all, but through the separation of church and state, parts of our culture in the U.S. today require a parting of the ways.
That is certainly not an all inclusive list, or a comprehensive look at the issue, but some quick thoughts for a Saturday morning. So how do you separate your life?