My family and I lived in Ghana, West Africa for several years. One of the many things that experience taught me is that a society must be viewed through a “cultural lens”.
For example, in Ghana, when we arrived, it was practically taboo for a married couple to show physical affection in a public arena. To hold hands or share a kiss, even to sit together in a church service was just not done.
The point isn’t whether this is right or wrong. The point isn’t whether or not this practice was healthy or even serving the marriages well. The truth is that, for better or worse, this was the predominant cultural view adopted by the Ghanaians at the time.
Therefore, when a well meaning national told me that she had been offended when my husband had put his arm around me in church, I was quick to reply, “When the Africans stopped urinating on the street in front of me whenever and wherever they felt the urge, I might consider her point of view.” I was simply reflecting my cultural opinion.
You see, the environment in which we live shapes us. I am not concerned with which culture holds the correct view. My goal is to inspire each of us to examine the culture in which we live and determine how it might be “deciding for us”. You might agree that growing up in the United States has shaped your opinions. Would you also agree that within any large group there are also cultural subsets at play? These might include religious, political and economic affiliations. Where we were born, what family we were born into, the friends that crossed our path, and the schools we attended can influence the way we see our world.
I believe in certain absolute truths. However, ABSOLUTE truths are not cultural. The fact that it is absolute means that it is true no matter where you are standing. For example, gravity is gravity whether you jump off the Empire State Building or a grass hut in Ghana. If you cannot get oxygen, you will suffocate. Are you with me so far?
Yes, I believe in absolute truths; however, I do not believe that a dominant cultural idea or opinion equals an absolute truth. In some of our cultures and subsets there are ideas that are so pervasive that we feel pressured to accept them simply because we have to live within this arena. It is my belief that in allowing these pervasive cultural views to shape our decisions (and ultimately our lives) we fail to seek the absolute truths that should guide us. Simply adopting the societal opinion can close us off to being truly loving, compassionate, forgiving human beings.
For many years in this country, the dominant cultural view was that all black men should be owned as slaves. I wonder how many white men felt in their heart of hearts that this was a moral wrong, but lacked the courage to make a stand against the predominant viewpoint. Where was the compassion for another human being? Where were the men and women who could see past their cultural opinion, and make a stand for what is an absolute truth, that ALL men are created equal? Perhaps the moral fortitude of the white men that lived then was located in the same place as that of many of the “Black Lives Matter” leaders today. When your culture says that any man’s life is more worthy than another man’s (regardless of your reasoning), you are pushing your agenda, not a truth.
I haven’t lost you all yet? Let’s try this one on for size. I believe that the existence of God is an absolute truth. I believe that His Word is and absolute truth. I believe that, in His Word, God list things that are considered sin. By that I mean actions that, when committed, open us up to consequences that have been set in place since the beginning. I do not believe that God is sitting up there waiting for us to break one of these rules so that he can exact vengeance.An absolute God makes it very clear in His absolute Word that ALL of us have sinned and come short of His glory. The consequences of our actions, just like gravity, have always been in place. Therefore, to get up and preach that any group of “sinners” is somehow worse than any other group is pharisaical at its best and downright evil in most cases. To say that a homosexual with his choices is any more of a sinner than the best christian on the front pew is with his choices is to not have a clear understanding of the teachings of Christ. In adopting this cultural view, we sit self righteously on our church pew and fail to reach out and show Christ’s love to what we have concluded as a group of people somehow less deserving than ourselves. I repeat, when your culture says that any man’s life is more worthy than another man’s, regardless of your reasoning, you are pushing your agenda, not a truth.
I’ve probably lost most of you, but I’m gonna go for one more. If you have stuck with me this far then I’m betting that you (like me) believe that all men are created equal. You believe (like me) that we are to show Christ’s love to everyone. Including that person who hurt you? That person who has done so much damage to you and your family? The person who made your heart hurt so badly that you wished you didn’t have to wake up? That one person who causes you to embrace your anger, perhaps even hatred? Even him? If your culture, including the one in your own heart, says that any man’s life is more worthy than another man’s, regardless of your reasoning, you are pushing your agenda, not a truth.
My only goal as a blogger is to incite introspection and growth. I do not ask that you believe everything that I believe. I ask only that you analyze each cultural influence in your life, from the part of the world you were born into, down into the deep recesses of your heart, and if you find there lack of love, forgiveness AND restoration for all men, alter your life accordingly.