If we’re Christians, we are in one sense always living cross culturally. We have our church cultures, and our work cultures, our friend cultures, our family cultures, and – unless you live and work and socialize all within the walls of the same exact cultural grid (which isn’t super healthy) – you’re probably experiencing some real tension right now.
Because all the different spaces we’re a part of are saying a lot of different things, especially when it comes to women.
If you’re a Christian – you move in spaces that remind you of the truth that you don’t take your lead from the world. You know that the world doesn’t tell you what it means to be a woman. And, at the same time – it’s hard to deny that some of what the world is saying right now resonates.
You may not believe that you’ve experienced any kind of sexism and you may feel totally loved and valued and safe as a woman in your cultures – but every woman reading this knows that you can’t walk home alone at night if you’re a woman, and you know that you have to watch your tone when you talk passionately to make sure you aren’t considered bitchy, and you know you can’t be emotional in meetings if you want to be respected, and – if you’re anything like me – you’ve watched as women you have done life with forever typed #metoo into their feeds and you suddenly realized – you can count on one hand (and have fingers left over) the number of women you know who haven’t experienced some kind of harassment or assault.
And, honestly, shouldn’t time be up on all that?
We had the women’s thing to talk about how God wants us to respond to this mess around us. I had pages and pages of things I wanted to share and unpack, but ultimately, God won (as He does), and focused me in on His word, and this verse specifically:
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
So, God wants us to:
Not be conformed to what the world says is good and acceptable and perfect
Instead – listen to what God says is good and acceptable and perfect and believe it
And then test what God says – put weight into it- walk in it.
FIRST OF ALL: who are we supposed to stop conforming to?
We do this thing a lot, where we use the words ‘culture’ or ‘world’ to refer to spaces that are actually NOT our cultures or worlds. When we use the phrase ‘what culture is saying’ we generally mean – “what people who aren’t in the room are saying”. It’s like accents. We use the word to describe someone else’s accent. It never occurs to us to think that we are anything but the neutral default of humanity.
But the culture that is shaping us the most is the one we don’t even call culture – it’s what we think of as normal. The cultures we are most likely to conform to are the ones we don’t even see. The way our family operates – the way our church operates – the way our friends operate.
The truth is – no no matter how great our culture is – it is not safe to confirm to. It’s not God. Every culture has some values that are healthy and in line with God’s will, it has some values are neutral, (just neat ways for us to reflect diversity of His complicated personality), and – every culture (even ones that love Jesus) – has some values that are counter to God’s will.
It doesn’t matter how much you love God or how much the leaders of your culture love God – we all have cultural blind spots. Don’t believe me? Go listen to Jonathan Edwards defend slavery.
The command to stop conforming to the world is a command God wants us to obey regardless of the values of the cultures we are a part of. If you want to let His word show you what is in your heart, you have to start with this question: which cultures are you most likely to conform to around you?
name some environments/structures/groups you have you been a part of that might have shaped (or are shaping) your unique culture?
what (if any) tensions have you felt between the ways different cultures you are a part of are engaging with women?
what are some processes you can think of that might have subconsciously shaped your thoughts around women?