I read this week that Mary-Kate Olsen of Full House fame will be playing the role of “a devout Christian” on an upcoming TV series. And it made me think… is there such as thing as a non-devout Christian?
The dictionary lists two definitions for the word “devout”… 1) devoted to religion or the fulfillment of religious obligations; and 2) sincere, earnest. If you Google “devout”, you’ll find the word is often used to modify Christian (Muslim, atheist, etc.) but there are also non-religious references, such as a devout bachelor, devout mother, devout husband.
One doesn’t wake up each day and say “I think I’ll be a mother for today” – being a bachelor, a mother, or a husband are all undeniable points of fact. And as there are clearly “bad mothers” and “irresponsible husbands” – the word “devout” is a good modifier, letting you know who is serious and who isn’t.
Sadly, being a Christian these days seems to follow the same line of thinking – more likely to be a point of fact, and less a point of faith. Ergo, I guess the word “devout” lets you know whose label is really sincere.
You would think that if you scanned the Bible you would find thousands of references to “devout” people – after all, those Bible folks were certainly sincere in their faith. But that descriptor is only used a handful of times, and often to depict someone like Cornelius, a Roman Centurion who you wouldn’t expect to be one with the Lord.
I guess back in the day, if you called yourself a Christian, the word “devout” would simply be redundant. And superfluous.