Can the Secular Truly Be Sacred?

A few weeks ago Relevant magazine ran a story about the sacred and secular that spoke to the delineation between the two and how many secular songs are also worship songs.

The supreme current example of secular songs written to and/or about God is “Awaken My Soul” by Mumford and Sons. I love the song, but I don’t know that it becomes a truly sacred worship song because of that. Easily one of my favorite songs over the last 6 months. Listen to the song in this video:

(come watch the video here RSS readers)

Liz, in her Relevant magazine article said:

Worship music doesn’t end when the standard four-song medley ends. It’s everywhere—it’s interposed in moments of “secular” songs by “secular” bands. It’s written on the walls of bar bathrooms and shouted amongst audiences by people who may not even realize what they’re quoting—but that’s the thing. It connects with people in a vastly authentic way because it reaches a genuinely sincere feeling in the human soul. We need our God, and sometimes we try to exist without Him. And all these songs, whether written or not, are about just that” (read the full article here, emphasis mine).

I think a distinction must be made between Christian music and corporate worship music, otherwise all Christian music could also be called worship music.

With that in mind, I’m wondering what your experience has been with the use of secular songs for congregational worship. Couple quick thoughts on my end:

  • I’ve always tried to avoid doing that because it often turns the attention to “oh my gosh, we’re doing a secular song right now” instead of God. And I don’t know that it is easy to avoid thinking this way.
  • Does the intention of the author/band make a difference? I think so. Most songs we sing in church were written to be sung in church or at least to be sung in a time of worship. Secular songs weren’t written for that purpose. Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t sing those songs, but we definitely need to be more cautious with them.

What say you?