Compartmentalization is the concept that we can separate and isolate our lives into categories. This compartmentalizing might be like this: secular, spiritual, domestic, political, leisure, business and social. This kind of rationalization allows for inconsistency and even hypocritical lives to be lived.
Those who say, “I believe homosexuality is wrong, but I think committed gay couples should enjoy the same benefits that married couples do” are able to have such contradictory beliefs because of compartmentalization. That is, they have their religious convictions tucked safely into the compartment labeled spiritual, but their dedication to “fairness” comes from the compartment marked social. Those who say, “I personally believe abortion is wrong, but I’m voting for a pro-abortion candidate” are also living compartmentalized lives. Again, these pull from the spiritual box their belief about abortion but they refuse to let that belief influence anything in the political compartment.
This is why you hear politicians say they will never allow their personal faith to influence how they would vote in congress. Judges say they have personal faith, but they will not let that faith influence how they might rule on a particular case; again we are witnessing compartmentalization.
Some Christians also are guilty of such compartmentalizing. A man who refuses to let the Bible determine how he treats his wife and children (Ephesians 5 & 6) is trying to keep his domestic life in one box and his “church life” in another. The real estate saleswoman who fibs to sell a house (Ephesians 4:25) but teaches Bible class is also dividing her life into compartments. The Christian who loses his temper and flails into another man during a pick-up basketball game is keeping his religion in one box and his recreation in another. The believer who retaliates against a neighbor because the neighbor’s child picked his roses without asking is keeping his religious life in one box and his secular in another. “Business is business and church is church” is said by the “Poster-boy” of the compartmentalizing party. “I wouldn’t wear this low cut dress to church, but I think it’s just fine for the wedding” is said by the “Madonna” for the compartmentalizing crowd.
Christianity is not a compartment; it is a life to be lived. When Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33), he was telling us ALL our lives are to be lived consistent with the will of God. In every walk of one’s life, he or she is to be seeking the kingdom of God, seeking to submit to the rule of God regardless of where he is or what he might be doing. In every relationship a believer has, he or she is to reflect the righteousness which must accompany one’s conversion to Christ. Anything less is not Christianity. Paul makes this truth evident in Colossians 3.
He starts by asserting that if you are a Christian, then “set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2). Such commitment then invades the believer’s entire life; social (Colossians 3:5-13), domestic (Colossians 3:18-21), business (Colossians 3:22-4:1), and in reality every corner of one’s existence.
Christianity is not a compartment in which we place Jesus, his word, righteousness, etc. Instead it is a vocation to be lived. “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called” (Ephesians 4:1). This has tremendous implications. It means I bring my Christianity with me into the voting booth, into the work place, the neighborhood, to the baseball diamond and behind the closed doors of my home.
In reality, I am either a Christian all the time and in every place or I am not a Christian at all.