The Sacred and the Secular, Both/And

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by Alex Aivars

Image Description: An Image of Kesha with praying hands on a gray background.

I always love when pop music uses Christian imagery. One song that has stood out in recent years is Kesha’s “Raising Hell.” In the song, Kesha does an amazing job of blending the sacred and secular, using Christian slang to describe secular things, and vice versa. 

“Hands up, witness”

When I’ve heard a favorite song in worship, I’ve raised my hands in praise. When I’ve heard a great song when I’m out dancing at a bar, I’ve raised my hands in appreciation. I’ve witnessed the Holy Spirit in both places. 

“Solo cup full of holy spirits”

At the church I serve, we use wine and grape juice in a cup during communion to signify the blood of Jesus during our worship services on Sunday mornings. Before seminary, either at a party or at a bar, while holding a cup of alcohol, I would have many conversations about God. These conversations helped affirm my calling to be a pastor. Both were and are holy moments. 

“No walk of shame ’cause I love this dress

Image Description: A grayscale photo of Kesha on a black background with the words, “I love this blending of the sacred and secular, using words from each world interchangeably because it reflects my own sense of self.” – Alex Aivars

I love this blending of the sacred and secular, using words from each world interchangeably because it reflects my own sense of self. This speaks to me as a gay Christian. I’ve been told I should be ashamed of my sexuality. I’ve been told my love does not belong in the sacred world. I’ve been told I can’t be a Christian and gay. I’ve been told I can’t be a pastor and gay. But, I have found my sexuality to be holy and good. The Holy Spirit has shown itself in my life, time and time again. I can be both Christian and gay. There is the divine in my love. Yes, I’m #blessed. 

“But I don’t wanna go to Heaven without raisin’ hell”

Jesus raised hell while on earth, flipping tables and sparring with the religious authorities. Jesus was, in fact, the perfect mixing of the sacred and secular, the holy and profane. In Jesus, a profane human contained sacred God. In fact, the two were so well mixed, that you couldn’t parse out which part was secular and which part was sacred. Jesus was both holy and profane, secular and sacred.

“This is our salvation”

After raising hell on earth, Jesus was then raised from hell, from the dead, to new life in heaven. God in Jesus saved us from death, so that we could share in holy, sacred, eternal life. Thanks be to God.


Alex Aivars (he/him) is currently in his first call as pastor of  St. Stephen Lutheran Church in Lansing, MI. Since this is a part-time call, he also develops websites for businesses, non-profits, and other churches. In his spare time he likes to read, hike, bike, ski, and make art out of post-in notes.

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