Thursday, May 20, 2010

Culture, and where to draw the line

All of us have a culture that surrounds us. In certain parts of the country, the culture usually changes with the people living there, or the climate of that area. Most times the culture that surrounds us has good things and bad things about it. Some Christians try to lock themselves out from the culture, some Christians just sink right into all of it, and some Christians try to change it. :) Most of us are familiar with the good things, and bad things in our culture, but how do we know that they are good, or bad? I was talking with a friend, and how culture can affect people and countries. Soon the question came up of how can we determine when something from a culture is good, or bad. Many times this is obvious, like in the case of Halloween, or Thanksgiving. But in some instances, it can be very hard to tell.

First of all, the was you can tell if something is good, or bad is by using the Bible. It's the only true way of testing anything. Culture in itself is not bad or good, its an inanimate object, like a movie, or a book, but what it contains, and the message that it projects is what shows us if it is good or bad for us. We all know that Halloween is a pagan holiday, but it is part of our general culture. I don't mean we celebrate it, I mean that the world around us does. It has to do with death, and the occult. These things are not things to be celebrated, and the Bible makes that clear to us. (Deuteronomy 18:9-11) In the case of Thanksgiving it is a whole different background. We all know how the Pilgrims came on the Mayflower and thanked God for a plentiful harvest: way better holiday. We can also use this to praise God, and even though it should be every day its a great excuse to do it with friends and family. The Football games and parades are also part of the holiday, but they are not against God, they are inanimate.

Those two were some of the easy ones. :P What about movies? Or what about T.V? What about music? What about sports? What about books? In my opinion, all of these things are part of culture. Now, maybe you don't see/listen too/play/ or read many of these, but they are still a big part of the world around us. I don't think that any of these things are bad in, and of themselves, but the message they are sending out to us may be. Again, the Bible is the way we see whether these things are good or bad. As Christians we are to be "the light of the world." We should be different, there should be a distinct difference between our worldly neighbors family, and our family. Without us the world would be nowhere. :) Christians should not change because the culture changes, Christians should change the culture. (Col 2:8)

Psalms 101:3:
I will set before my eyes no vile thing. The deeds of
faithless men I hate;
they will not cling to me

This is a great verse regarding what we see. :) The Bible is the answer for EVERYTHING and this is no exception. Any question you have, the Bible has the answer. One more verse I want to share with you all.

1 Corinthians 10:23:
"Everything is permissible"- But not everything is beneficial.
"Everything is permissible" But not everything is constructive.

Many times we will be faced with activities that might not be "good" or "bad." Like taking a vacation twice a year. :) When these things come up, we can ask the question "Is it constructive? Beneficial?" When something is neither "good" or "bad," we can decide what to make it. I happen to chat allot. :P And when I am chatting a great question to ask is, "Is this beneficial? Is this constructive?"

Tell me what you all think. :) Have you come up with several conclusion on your own? What are some views on the culture around us?



  1. I agree. Alot of times, I find myself conforming to our culture because it isn't necessarily "bad". It's just not productive. I've learned (and still am learning ;) ) how to behave regarding to our culture. I like what you said in the last sentence of the first third paragraph. It's true...

    About if we've come to any conclusions about anything...hmmm... well, I don't really have a problem deciding what books or music is good and bad. I just read and listen to Christian material. Now, movies is a different story. Most of the times, the movies I watch aren't Christian, yet they're not bad. Now, I'm not so sure if that's good... One way I've thought I can decide is by first asking myself if it'll produce a negative result in my life. If it does, then by all means, I wouldn't watch it. But if it doesn't have any negative influences, then I'd think if it would give a positive outcome. If it does, then I think it can be watched. If it doesn't have any positive effects, I don't think it should be watched. I'd be learning, well, nothing... :P It's wasting time that can be used on much more productive things. Life is much better off without nonsense. ;)

    Can't wait to hear what the rest think about this topic; it's really interesting! :)Thanks for the post, Jerry.

  2. What helps me the most for deciding whether something is good or bad is to use Philippians 4:8 as a guideline. "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." This verse pretty much sums up what God would like for us to be filling our minds with. Whenever I have a question about anything, I ask myself if this verse would apply to whatever it is I want to see or listen to.

    It is also very important not to have the mentality of getting as close to the "line" as possible. Many times that results in going over the "line". It is much better to get as far from the "line", and temptation as possible. Joshua Harris said, "Purity is a direction, not a line." That not only applies for purity, but for this area as well.

    These are just a few things that I have been able to apply to my life. :) Thanks Sophie and Jerry for posting, I really enjoy seeing what other people have to say about these topics :)

  3. That is a great verse, Joana, to determine what we should fill our minds with. We should think of that verse when making any decision. And you're absolutely right. That quote can be used for anything, not only purity. It's a great reminder of what it means to "be on the line" and how to get away from it. I like it. :)

    As I was reading my Bible this morning, I found this verse; a prayer by Paul:

    And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

    I thought it was such a good verse and applied to this. It isn't necessarily a guide to determine what to watch/read/listen to, but it is an encouragement. We need to pray that God would give us wisdom and knowledge to discern what is right so that we may be pure and blameless until Christ comes.

    Glad you liked the post, Joana. :)

  4. Wow, those are both awesome verses guys. I really liked how clearly Paul says that. Its almost as if he were talking to us! O_O the Bible is full of People who were sucked into the culture around them. Like Solomon, and how all those wives brought their pagan God's. He gave the world a foothold in his life. It was only a matter of time before he would be ruined. We also see this pattern in Samson, he had so much to live for, but he traded it all for his downfall.

    The Bible is also full of stories where men change the culture around them. Like Josiah, the boy king. Even though his father, and basically his whole kingdom, was going against him, he chose to do the right thing. We see how courageous Josiah was, and how God blessed him for that. Also Gideon is an amazing example. He was only a farmer, but God took him and made an outstanding leader from him. Not only did Gideon lead the Israelites to victory, but he also destroyed all idols to pagan gods, even though his countrymen were against him. Shadrack Meshack and Abednigo (I probably misspelled those names) stir up a whole kingdom because of how they chose to stand firm and make a statement.

    Jesus is the ultimate example for everything good. We see how his life was not loud, or attractive, yet we see how he has had more influence in the world than any other person in history.

    We see so many Christians in our day simply slip into the background of our culture, not making a statement, not wanting to be noticed, and not wanting to do anything. They are not necessarily doing anything wrong, but they aren't doing anything, they are lukewarm.

    Revelation 3:16
    "So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth."

    That is John speaking to a church. God hates a "lukewarm" Christian. He would rather us be lost than not doing anything.

    Glad you guys liked the post, I really love those verses your shared!

  5. Wow, Jerry, that verse is so good and so relevant to this issue. Imagine that we proclaim ourselves as Christians yet choose to watch/listen/read non-Christian material. We are living like lukewarm Christians with one standard for one thing and another standard for something else. We need to remember that we need to have ONE standard. I know sometimes, when I go to someone's house I may listen to things that I wouldn't usually listen to (music wise). Sometimes, there's nothing I can do about it, yet I'm sure if there is a way for me to get out of the situation, and I'm not doing anything about it, I'm not keeping my standard, therefore, I'm behaving like a lukewarm Christian. :( I need to consistently remind myself that life in Christ cannot have a double standard. There needs to be one standard and that being the one that is most pleasing to Christ. :)

  6. Well, Sophie, I don't think it’s wrong to choose to watch/listen/read to certain non-Christian material. As Christians we are pursuers of the Truth. This is God. God can speak to us in so many ways, and even in non-Christian media. If something is not contrary to the Bible, then it is one of those things that are "grey." In other words, we can choose what to make it in our life. Certain thing, like a scary movie, that perverts the truth is wrong in itself because the message it portrays is wrong. A song that has no real meaning is neutral. I am going to use Firelies as an example. :P This song is totally useless, and it has to real moral meaning. These types of things are what Paul was saying when he said "All things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial." Fireflies is not beneficial, and you could be listening to many better things than this song. This "grey" can fill our life, and if it controls our life then we are lukewarm. Going to church is neither good nor bad. The reason why we go to church is what determines if it is good or bad. There are many "grays" and the line is SO thin, that we better stay really far from it to avoid confusion. The less "grey" we have, the better.

    On your song issue, if the song is talking about how beautiful Cuba is, or how much some guy misses his family, then I wouldn't call these songs bad. If the song curses, or talks about an immoral relationship, then I would not listen to it.

    In a movie like Star Wars, some of the messages and lessons are those of courage, loyalty to a cause ect. You can learn these virtues from these movies. These movies are not all gold though, they do have bad things in them. In this case, we are to determine what is wrong, and what is right. I am not allowed to watch Pirates of the Caribbean because I think that the movie has a distortion of right and wrong. The stealing, lying pirates are the good guys? What is that? In Star Wars, good, or the Jedi, are always good. Bad guys, like Anakin, are always bad, or become bad, but you can tell they are bad. Even in Pirates you can see good things that the characters do, but they do it for the wrong reasons. I am not putting Pirates down, or Star wars up, I am just using them as examples. If certain things are shown, that are directly ageist God, or that provoke sin, then it is way better that we not even get close to that, whatever it may be. A song that has bad words (which are contrary to God) is a bad song. If a movie has some nudity, or portrays the hero as a cynical, evil person, then this movie is a bad influence in our life.

    I know I am a bit confusing. Am I explaining my self?

  7. Oh, and by the way, in case you guys want the reference to the verse I shared, it's Philippians 1:9-11. I forgot to write it. :)

  8. I'm sorry if I didn't make myself clear. I completely agree with everything Jerry has said. What I was talking about is un-Christian material that is just wrong in all aspects. I know there are things (like fireflies) that are not wrong. There is no perversion or anything bad in it. The time used on that song can be used for other (better) things, but it doesn't mean that listening to it is bad. I think your examples, Jerry, explain it all very well. Thanks for pointing that out, and sorry for not being clear enough. :)

  9. I'm sorry for posting so much, but I'm enjoying this and like to hear other people's opinions on these matters. :)

    Now, what do you think if you're exposed to something, and you have no way of getting out of it? For example, being at a family member's birthday party and a song starts to play and you know it's wrong. What do you guys think us as Christians (with standards) should do? (just like music, it can be anything else).

  10. That's ok Sophie, I like responding to people's posts. :)

    Great example and I think there are several things to do. One of them is nothing, you could endure it, and you could simply refuse to be influenced by its negative effect. I am sure Jesus was tempted in hundreds of ways, but he didn't stop the tempter, he just refused to fall into it. The other thing you could do it stand up against it. Like Daniels friends, they didn't choose to bow down to a golden idol, but they were placed in that situation, and God was testing them. They stood their ground and trusted God that what would happen was His will. If you really feel as if the song is offensive to, not only you, but other people as well, then ask to have it changed. Jesus saw countless sins being done around him, and in front of Him, but he didn't stop every one's sinning. Like the lady that was caught in adultery, she had just sinned! But Jesus didn't punish her, or ask her politely not to sin any longer. He gave her eternal life! And that is what she really needed. The person playing the song, if not a Christian, has a bigger problem than bad music, he/she needs Jesus more than a change of I-tunes. If the person is a Christian, then ask politely for him/her to change the song, God will show that person the fault in the music. Maybe God will use you. If you do anything, do it with love, if you do, everything ells will fall into place.

    There are many choices, but each has it's limitation. If you are at the theaters and a curse word comes out of the speakers, you can leave the theater, or stay there and swallow it. You obviously cannot go to the manager and ask him to skip the scene. :P So again, each one has its limitations.

  11. yo, jerry, I don't suppose you are the jerry that I happened to talk to on the Reb forums are you?

  12. Actually it is! The one and only, and funny, I don't really remember you from the forums. I think you are a moderator, but I am not sure. :) Glad you could see our new blog. :)

  13. Welcome to the blog, Lauren! :)

    Thanks for your response, Jerry. Both options are very insightful and are both good ideas for those kinds of situations. Thanks for answering my question. :)

    Well, I was reading Romans 12 this morning and just at the beginning of the chapter, I read this verse:

    "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your
    mind, that you may prove what is good and acceptable and perfect will of God." (v.2).

    I read it and immediately thought of this discussion we have here. :) I realized that I really need to pray that God would keep me from conforming to this world. God wants to give us wisdom and He'll give it to us if our desire is to please Him. Imagine having enough wisdom to determine what is God's acceptable and perfect will! Wow! I find that so cool! I hope that I'd learn to live so close to God that God would give me that wisdom! After reading that this morning, I felt the need to pray that God would renew my mind and keep me away from falling into the pattern of this world. :) well, I just felt like sharing that with you guys. :P

  14. actaully no, I am not a moderator. You would have talked to me as "Haley"
    we talked about LotR.

    here is my blog.
    I used to have a completely LotR devoted blog but I changed it to stars in my grey eyes. but that one is private.

  15. Yes! I remember you Haley! Just joined your blog. :)

    This morning I was reading Galatians. In the first few chapters Paul addresses the problem that the Galatians were allowing Jewish culture to mix in with the perfect gospel of Christ. (I also thought of this blog, first thing :P) They were allowing "spies" to infiltrate their "ranks" and preach another message, contrary to Gods. They let their culture influence the Gospel, instead of the Gospel influencing the way they looked at culture. God's word is a rock, it never moves. It doesn't matter if you are from the North, or the South, or China, there is only one way to see the Gospel. The verse that Sophie shared fits perfectly with this situation. The gentiles from Galatia thought they had to be circumcised, or keep the Law of Moses, to be saved. Being circumcised, or keeping the Law of Moses, was part of the Jewish culture, and they were not wrong in them selves, but when it was used to twist the Gospel of Christ, and it became a stumbling block.

  16. I really enjoyed this post! Psalm 101:3 is a verse that God really used in my life to show me that much of what we see on television and read in books probably ought not be a part of our lives. Like you said, we should be shaping our culture, not allowing our culture to shape us; but when we allow those negative influences into our lives, they will shape us. Thanks for the reminder, Jerry.


    By the way, I have a similar blog you might like:

  17. Wow! Great topic.

    Firstly let me warn you that at the moment I can only view blogs on weekends because of the internet at work, however I do like this, so I'll try to comment on weekends.

    Back on topic.

    Certainly it is absolutely biblical and right to test things. Honestly if you stay close to God you will know without having to logically going through it whether something is right or not. Last year I went on several trips. Some people would see that as a waste and frivolous, but I knew that I was doing it for the right reasons - Ministering to people, spending time with God to just totally relax in His presence and praying, and being ministered too myself. I always came out of that time empowered and invigorated. Some of the things that I learnt when I was there have been invaluable.

    Unless you know for sure, I would be asking the questions before you do anything, "Is this building me up on my most holy faith? Is this edifying me? Is it leading me closer to Christ?"

    Also it could be good to ask, "Is this going to be a stumbling block to weaker Christians?" Some people will be offended if you are doing the right thing. (i.e. like the Jews with Gentles not getting circumcised) In that case I think you have to just ask God to search your heart and try your motives. Sometimes you do need to not do/do things things so not to cause a brother to stumble, but sometimes, as Jesus said, "It is impossible that offences will not come."

    I realised a few months ago that someone I knew had gotten the idea that I was some spoilt rich kid. Nothing could have been further from the truth. While I didn't have to worry about where my next meal was coming from or if there would be a roof over my head I didn't have heaps of money, and I had to be very careful with what I spent it on. Now when you say you've been here, and you're going there, and you drive a nice car, wear nice clothes, have your own computer, own phone, etc., then people can have the wrong idea. Now all those things have explanation - it's not like I was trying to just some rich kid who has it made. (i.e. the car wasn't mine, the computer was one we got for free from a school that was chucking out their really old ones... haha, phone is considered a necessity by my family, etc.)

    In that case, after I realised what she was thinking I was more careful, but I basically had to just keep my heart in the right place. Sometimes just being causes people problems.

    Anyway, I hope that wasn't too long or sidetracked...