Sunday, January 24, 2016

Belief as Influenced by Culture

I grew up in a conservative, Evangelical home. We believed the Bible was God's word, we mainly read the King James Version, we went to church twice on Sunday, and on Wednesday nights. Church camp was a requirement in the Summer and we always helped and attended VBS.

We never talked about God much in our home though, we said grace over our meals and sometimes got into theological arguments. (My dad was Oneness Pentecostal, my mom was nominally Southern Baptist with liberal leanings). I went to a private, Christian (Baptist) school. Very conservative, with a dress code, code of conduct and mandatory Bible classes in every grade along with Chapel services every Friday morning.

My life was filled with Jesus and all the trimmings of belief in the Bible and how we interpreted it as conservative Baptists. But it never filtered into our talk at home, in the car, or our life as a family much. Maybe it affected how we acted, I'm not actually sure about that, but I see little evidence looking back on our life as any different than many moral, blue collar Buddhists or atheists. Sure we have a different underlying justification for acting how we acted but I think that's probably the extent of it.

This makes me wonder how much our culture influences how we act. I grew up in a culture where being a “Christian” was what was expected. Some bad behavior was allowed but not too much. There were exceptions to the rule but they were always looked down on with disdain.

The culture today influences peoples in much the same way. It's culturally appropriate to be a Democrat, it's fine to be gay and to be tolerant of homosexuality in general. Our culture says it's fine to believe in anything you want or nothing, but Christianity is pretty iffy. It's culturally apropos to be pro-choice, against the death penalty and a million other topics of interest that we could place on the chopping block.

How did the culture influence people, say, 50 years ago? Much of these beliefs were still held but were not acceptable and were held in secret or by the minority. Why? People grew up in church, even if they didn't believe what they were hearing. People did a lot of things we don't do or find debatable to do, today. Yes many of the views that people held were out dated and racist, we have that to throw into the stew as well.

It's just a thought to bring to the forefront for discussion. How much are we letting culture influence what we think and what we view as acceptable? We can even go back 10 years ago and find, in music, television, print and other media certain things that are not acceptable now, but at that time were thought of as fair game to make light of in entertainment.

What has changed? It's been my experience that people don't change that much. But we, as a culture, do seen to make gradual changes. Due to marketing, due to money and influence, due to pressure from outside groups. Romans 12:2 takes on a new meaning with all this in mind, “Do not be conformed to this world...”

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