Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Culture versus the Bible

In Puerto Rico cock fighting is legal and most towns have at least one public arena where it takes place--it's part of the culture and goes way back, probably to the early 15oo's. And not only is there the cruelty to the roosters: gambling and drinking are part of the "fun". When people here eat a meal, alcohol, especially wine is frequently present--they follow the European customs in this (and other) areas.
Virgin Islands culture includes Carnival (think Mardi Gras) and dancing that one brother described as sex with clothes on. Other cultures practice abandonment of unwanted babies, polygamy, etc. Many cultures make sausage with blood, the one food the New Testament reminds us we cannot eat. When the Bible and a culture disagree what should a Christian do?
I've heard Christians say: "It's our culture--there's nothing wrong with that". God's Word is for all cultures, of all times. "God commands all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30). The fact that a culture approves of something is not the final judgment on whether something is pleasing to God or not. God calls us to rise above sin and worldliness, not just remain in the status quo. The fact that a whole nation, even nations, approves of a particular action does not mean God does.
Fornication of every kind was an integral part of Greek and later Roman culture. Polygamy was, and is, part of many different cultures. Idolatry has frequently been tied to this or that culture. If the fact that something is "cultural" makes it right, then could we condemn fornication, polygamy, or even idolatry, if it is "a part" of some culture? Yet our Heavenly Father wants what's best for His children, so He forbids these things. Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly".
Culture does not legislate truth--it may obey the Truth or it may disobey it, but man is not the source of authority, no matter how many generations have done. But the only way you'll know that is if you study God's Word.

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