How should we relate to our culture?
This is a subject that comes up regularly in the church as well as in conversations with parents.
Since our culture does not espouse the same values we do, and in many instances is opposed to our values, how should we relate? What should we allow our children to be involved in?
When we think about this subject it is not just about moral values, but philosophical or thought processes as well. And it appears to me that there are at least 5 reactions or responses:
1. Ignore–it’s just a fad, it will go away
2. Fight–it’s evil, let’s try to push back the philosophical time clock
3. Acquiesce–it’s the way it is, let’s make the best of it
4. Accept–it’s the way it should be
5. Engage–it’s here, let’s interact, learn and make a difference
Put another way:
I think some people see culture as intimidating and so they seek isolation. They fear the effects of culture on themselves and their children, so they seek to create an isolated environment to protect their children. And while there may be some things we need to protect our children from (like sinful behavior), is isolation the best solution?
Others are not fearful, but definitely wary of the effects of culture so they seek to instruct their children so as to provide insulation from the effects of the world around them. This is how I often thought of my role as a parent. To instruct my boys in the way they should go–not fearing the world, but trying to prepare them to not be affected by the world.
Now that our boys are older, I think there is another approach. Rather than isolation or simply insulation I want my sons to be influencers. This requires intentionality–intentionally influences others. Rather than the reactive approach–insulate them so they will not be affected by the world. I want to be proactive–help them intentionally influence those around them.
There may be a place or time for each of these three approaches. But I think the last is the ultimate goal. Too often we seek isolation simply for our own benefit and forget that we have been placed here to be witnesses (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8). When we simply seek to instruct for insulation we again forget that God has called us as His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). The intentionality I am speaking of means that we (and our children) need to evaluate the use of our time, money, and energy to determine how best to invest our influence. This may require choosing not to do certain things (even isolating from certain activities) in order to do better things.
In the next post, we look at ways that we and our children might be intentional influencers.