Culture is the enlightenment and refinement of taste acquired by education, discipline and training. As Christian parents, it is our responsibility to inculcate a biblical framework into our children and introduce Jesus Christ to them, so that they can approach the music, literature, art and anything else this world system offers them and increasingly discern between good and evil. The Apostle Paul gives the test for discernment in Philippians 4:8 “Finally brethren, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
A subtle danger
More and more I am hearing Christians say it is important that we become familiar with the culture of our world, so that we might better relate with the Gospel. Armed with that argument, we immerse ourselves in the sinful culture of the world via movies, TV, music and literature, hoping to be able to sort out the good from the evil. Instead, we find ourselves being gradually drawn into the world’s culture and enjoying it. It may sound like good logic, but I question whether teaching our children to be familiar with the culture of this world is Scriptural.
Listen to God’s Word on this.
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the Law of the Lord and in His Law doth he meditate day and night.” Psalm 1:1-2
“I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.” Psalm 101:3
“Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken Thou me in Thy way.” Psalm 119:37
“Learn not the way of the heathen.” Jeremiah 10:2
“I would have you wise unto that which is good and simple concerning evil.” Romans 16:19
Speaking, not of God’s creation, but of the world-system, the Apostle John writes, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away and the lusts therof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever. I John 2:15-17
Concerning our walk as Christians Paul wrote, “But fornication and all uncleaness or coveteousness, let it not once be named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which is not convenient; but rather giving of thanks. For this know that no whoremonger nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolator hath any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them…. Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done in secret.” Paul goes on in this extended passage in Ephesians 5 to teach us rather to be filled with the Spirit and he shows how this affects our lives in every situation.
Our responsibility to the world today
In Old Testament times God required Israel to kill the heathen lest the heathen’s children marry Israel’s children and turn the hearts of the children to false gods. Deuteronomy 7:1-6 God does not command Christians to kill the heathen today. Rather, we are to evangelize them and leave in the hands of God the saving or judging and destroying of unbelievers. But the point here is that God did not instruct Israel to learn their culture and teach it to their children.
In fact, God directed Abram to leave his family and his culture to go to a new land where God would direct him and there God would prepare him to be the father of a new nation, Israel, with its own distinctive culture, totally separated from the rest of the world. The purpose of this separation was to eventually make them a blessing to the whole world.
Jesus prayed for His own before He went to the cross, that as we live in this wicked world system, we would not become a part of the wickedness, but rather be a witness to unbelievers. John 17:15-18 “I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them (cleanse and set them apart) through Thy Truth. Thy Word is Truth. As Thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.”
The trouble with modern American Christians is that we are all too much at home in this world. Under the guise of “learning to become culturally sensitive” we are becoming well adjusted with the world’s culture and lifestyle. We even enjoy it. It is becoming our life.
The pilgrim stranger mentality
Hebrews 11 is filled with examples of the Old Testament saints who lived as pilgrims and strangers; never feeling at home in this world. I challenge each of us to read the entire chapter and then contrast their lives with our lives as we consider how immersed and how at home we are in the culture of this world system.
I hear some of you reminding me of what Paul said, ” I am all things to all men that by all means I might win some.” I Corinthians 9:22 Yes, Paul tried to understand and identify with the people he was attempting to reach with the Gospel. There is no question about that, but in verses 24-27 he speaks of living a disciplined life. Christ was his life. The world system had little attraction for him. In Galatians 6:14 he said, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world.”
The ultimate goal of teaching our children discernment
God rewards parents who have developed a Godly culture in the hearts and minds of their children. They are described in Psalm 144:112. “That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth and our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace.” Strong, vigorous, beautifully charactered children rooted deeply in God’s Word and prepared to live a godly, useful life in a godless culture; that’s all any parent could ever ask.