Sacred, Profane or Somewhere in Between
October 5, 2017

"The f-bomb is alive and well."

So says my college student son, surprised by its prevalence in daily conversation amongst strangers, form-fitting a variety of grammatical uses from adjective to participle, noun to verb. It also appears gender-neutral, an equal-opportunity employer of both male and female.

I’ve heard the argument that such use is not profane but rather cultural. “Words and meaning shift with the sands of culture,” or some such reasoning.

I wonder if it’s more of a matter of eliminating sacred, striking it from a standard list of social norms?

Sacred speaks of a divine source. From the word flows a sense of awe, respect and honor.  A separation of use, perhaps, along the lines of “holy” in the Bible: set apart for a divine purpose. At its root, the word implies a Divinity behind the curtain, directing a production both entertaining and educational.

Christianity historically speaks of all of creation possessing a sacred quality. Especially life in its various colors and shapes.  Secular culture denies such reality, and thus language norms follow suit.

When a people turn away from the reality of such Divinity, the work of said God loses something. Call it value, worth, beauty. Creation and the created have to stand on their own, leaning subjectively on perceived inherent characteristics rather than a Universal given.

Once divine value ceases to exist – at least in the cultural lectionary – words that distinguish said value cease as well.  And words denigrating value, increase in value.

No such thing as sacred. Or profane. A word is a word is a word.

Words are not the leading indicator of such posture. They trail by years, perhaps generations. By the time they enter the daily stream or swirl down the historical drain, they are simply announcing a changing of the guard that took place on a past watch.

So while the f-bomb might soon be as culturally acceptable a descriptor as say “awesome” or “amazing,” don’t let its prevalence be taken for granted. Something’s gone missing. That Something is Sacred.

Ponder the following in your personal time with God, with your small group, with your new start team?

  • So what do we do with Sacred or Profane or Somewhere In Between in our new starts to reach new for Jesus? What are the implications for the conversations we have with those far from God, far from considering anything sacred? 
Jesus prayed, “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (John 17:22-23 ESV).

Jesus said, “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8b ESV). 
  • How are we to be witnesses of the Sacred, of Jesus, in our our that the world would know Him? 
by Bill Woolsey


  • Craig Britton

    Great points to consider. I would even point to the fact that seldom do we hear the Bible referred to anymore as the "Holy Bible" or "Holy Scripture". Perhaps the very way the church views the revelation of God is a key to the loss (losing) of the Sacred.

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  • John Kieschnick

    Thanks for the comments and insights, Bill.

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