What is secularism?Question: "What is secularism?"
Answer: Essentially, secularism says that man does not need God. It can be defined as “a system of doctrines and practices that disregards or rejects any form of religious faith and worship. Its primary objective is the total elimination of all religious elements from society.” Secularism, also known as secular humanism, teaches that there are no objective or absolute truths defining right and wrong. In essence, to secularize something is to make it worldly and unspiritual. Its intent is to deprive something of its religious character, its spiritual influence and significance.
Secularism permeates all facets of our society: education, government, the criminal justice system, the news media, the entertainment industry, etc. Secularists believe that man is the measure of all things, that morals are man-centered, not God-centered. Therefore, no one is entitled to determine right from wrong, and morality is best determined by what is good for today’s culture. Secularists do not believe that mankind can have a set of permanent values such as are taught in the Bible. Secularism pays lip service to tolerance and diversity, yet many times secularists are intolerant of those who look to the Bible as God’s standard for morality.
When the things of God are removed from schools, courtrooms, and congressional hallways, it naturally leads to a deterioration of personal morality. The acceptance of situational ethics does away with moral absolutes and dictates that there are no limits, no values, no real standards.
The more our nation embraces secularism, the more it becomes like ancient Israel, where “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6; 21:25). When the mindset is “if it feels good, do it!” wickedness, perversion, and sin become the norm. In a completely secularized society, marriage is disparaged, morality is mocked, and human life is devalued.
The truth is that, left to his own devices, man always descends to a lower level. Following the Bible’s precepts lifts us to a higher moral plane (Deuteronomy 4:7-8; 10:12-13; Proverbs 14:34). However, man has hardened his heart against God (John 12:40; Romans 1:18-22). We have sown to the wind and are in danger of reaping the whirlwind (Hosea 8:7).
Even the church is being impacted by secularism. Many churches are dealing less and less with the moral conduct of its membership for fear of offending them. After all, accommodating a wayward member is much easier than correcting him. However, the church cannot allow itself to become secularized. Jesus taught that, though we are in the world, we’re not of the world (Romans 2:2; James 4:4; 1 John 2:15).
Secularism promotes the idea that religion is nothing but a relic of the past. But the truth is, God exists, and we do need Him. Despite the claims of secular humanism, the Bible is God’s truth (John 17:17). As believers living in a secular society, we must “become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15, NKJV).
Recommended Resource: Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview by William Lane Craig & J.P. Moreland
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