3 Lies Our Culture Tells Us

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1) You’re not bad.
2) Old is bad, new is good.
3) What you do with your body is your business.

1) You’re not sinful/wicked/wrong/rebelling against God.

Okay, so we all, apart from Christ, absolutely are wicked.

This is pretty much a given in the Bible. If you read through the prophets, Moses’ rebuking of the Israelites for idolatry in his 5 books, Jesus’ amazingly harsh (and overlooked) words demanding repentance in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, or almost any of the Old Testament’s “exile” books (Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, etc.), you will see God and His Word informing people of their sins and telling them that they are sinners.

I realize that that is pretty much the opposite of what you’ll probably read in Chicken Soup for the Soul or see on Dr. Phil, but it’s just simply the truth.

I am not, and was not, a decent guy with a beautiful heart who just needed some encouragement to reach my destiny. I was a dead evildoer who sinned and died in Adam and who sinned against the perfect and loving God myself. I deserved death and judgment, not a cupcake and a hug.

Our culture oozes the idea that either nothing is wicked or that only what it deems inappropriate is. Objective, unchanging standards of good and evil are shunned.

And so instead of free pardon and eternal peace in response to nasty and horrible sins (God’s Gospel), we’re offered cheap self-esteem in response to things that supposedly weren’t sins anyway (our culture’s gospel).

Instead of receiving real forgiveness for real atrocities, we’re told to take fictional forgiveness and never apologize for who we are.

But according to the Bible, who we are is precisely the problem.

We are, God says in His Word, spiritually dead. Hardhearted. Spiritual adulterers. Unable to please God.

Who we are in our sin is terrible. We still have the image of God, we still should be treated as human beings, but we are due God’s judgment for our being this way.

And instead He offers us forgiveness through repentance and faith in the Jesus who died and was raised.

When the world tells us we’re not sinful, it is telling us not to repent. And if we do that, 1 John would say that we are unforgiven liars.

2) Newer is better, older is worse; society is progressing.

First off “society” isn’t really a thing. There are thousands of people groups all over the planet, speaking thousands of languages. They are all made in the image of God, but people across the Earth live in vastly different nations or groups, and those nations/governments/groups exist across a huge spectrum of behavior. There are child soldiers being used by rebel groups functioning like governments in much of sub-Saharan Africa. Meanwhile here in the US a seventeen year-old needs a note from his school and a physician before making sandwiches at Subway.

So “society” isn’t really a global thing. You have a planet filled with people doing different things in different places.

But secondly, this whole “society is progressing” thing is off-kilter because the whole thing hinges on (a) you knowing all the necessary facts about each past generation you’d need to know in order to tell how good or bad each was, and (b) what your definition of “progress” is.

And guess what? (a) We don’t, and (b) our culture’s definition of “good” and “progress” is wrong.

I would argue that the 21st century American culture’s definition of a “good” country, culture, or person is something like this: Someone who is tolerant of who other people are are at the moment without changing, and who has generally favorable feelings or emotions towards other human beings.

In other words, a good person is someone who doesn’t think anything anyone does is wrong or sinful (other than thinking things are wrong or sinful). Also a good person should have warm thoughts.

But Jesus describes love as action, not as passive tolerance or warm feelings. He does it in the parable of the Good Samaritan, where the one fulfilling God’s command to love one’s neighbor is the one who spends his own money (not someone else’s money) to care for a stranger who’d gotten robbed. He does it at the Last Supper, when He tells His disciples that the greatest love is what He’ll do at the Cross: painfully and sacrificially laying down your life for your friends.

The Jesus who commanded and demanded repentance said that true goodness lay in righteous actions pouring out from a changed heart. Not in some sort of benign tolerance that seeks to not bother anybody.

Good trees, He said, bear good fruit.

So is society getting better? Are the older parts of the Bible icky and we now know better?

Well, do we have more people laying down their lives for their friends?

No, I think we have less people, in 21st century America, who lay down their lives for anything.

I think a large number of us put off having kids so we can play. Watch more TV than we pray. Spend more money on our NetFlix subscriptions than on the world’s poor.

Jesus said where your treasure is is where your heart is. And I think 21st century America treasures worldly pleasure.

So no, we aren’t better than Moses, Joshua, David, Ezekiel, Isaiah, or Paul. We do some things better than the sinners of the ancient world, and a lot of things worse. But there ain’t nothing new under the sun, to paraphrase Ecclesiastes.

The only real kind of progress is the kind that takes you closer to Jesus Christ.

Everything else is just cheap goosebumps and Disney songs.

3) What you do with your body is your business.

Wrong. God gave me this body, He knit it together in my mother’s womb, He decided what human bodies would look like, and it is His business what I do with it.

We have a ridiculous sense of our own authority in this culture. We claim to have the right to change or misuse things we didn’t author, create, or define. Things like gender, the womb, and out body parts.

God created the first man and woman. He gets to decide what humans are for.

We have arms and legs and hair and eyes and get married and have children because He decided that’s what He wanted humans to do for His glory.

He tells that story, the story that Jesus affirms when He teaches on marriage in Matthew, in Genesis 1-3.

God is good, beautiful, awesome, holy, pure, and loving. He designed men to leave their parents and cling to their wives. To make love with them and produce children.

That’s what our good God says.

He gets to make the call.

Our culture is blind in a lot of ways. Arrogant and in need of a Savior it denies and says is unnecessary anyway. It likes parts of Jesus’ message but refuses to bend its knee to His Kingship.

Bow before the good God, and take truth to a warped culture that needs it. Receive what’s true from a God who loves to share, and then share it yourself.

Do it so that lame and harmful lies can be repented of, and so that truth can heal, be celebrated, and enjoyed in the presence of its Creator forever.

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