Secularism: The Cost of Consumption

The following blog is the second in a six-part series on worldview and work taken from Darrow Miller’s new book, LifeWork: A Biblical Theology for What You Do Every Day.


Mother Teresa, visiting the city of New York from her home city of Calcutta—perhaps one of the most physically poor cities in the world—said she had never seen such poverty as she faced in New York. She understood the sad truth: Western society has largely exchanged material development for moral and spiritual bankruptcy.

The concept of work held today in much of the Western world, including Canada and the United States, has been framed by the materialistic or secular paradigm. In this worldview, there is no spiritual reality, only physical reality. From this perspective, what does work do? It gives us access to material things. The purpose of work is to allow us to consume. Man is an animal, a highly evolved animal, but he is basically a consumer. In this paradigm, man has no intrinsic worth. There is no God in whose image we are made, giving our lives value. Instead, our value as human beings is determined by what we have. According to this worldview, the more we consume, the better life is. As the modern proverb reads, “Whoever dies with the most toys wins!” Accordingly, success in the workplace means moving higher up the career ladder, accumulating more money or power for the purpose of affording greater consumption. Falling far short of God’s intentions, work in the West is largely utilitarian and self serving; money, power, leisure, and self-fulfillment are the goals. Hedonism reigns: “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you die!”

The consequences of this view of life and work are systemic for both individuals and whole societies. Home and community are diminished as work becomes the primary social environment. Because life is reduced to having things, people sacrifice what money can’t buy—their spiritual identities, their marriages and children, their friendships and families—for success in the marketplace, doing whatever it takes to get ahead. Truth and virtue give way to pragmatism. Professionalism replaces character as the primary virtue. There is no metaphysical foundation for creativity. The future disappears for present consumption. Service to community is lost in service to self. Stewardship of creation is replaced with a rape of resources for opulent consumption. Ultimately, people miss their purpose in life, spending not only their dearly earned money but also the very days of their lives on what can never satisfy the human soul.

We invite you to explore our new website, www.MondayChurch.org where you can learn more about Darrow’s new book, LifeWork: A Biblical Theology of Vocation for What You Do Every Day, as well as discover a host of resources to help you connect your work with the Biblical worldview.

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