Cultural Christianity

Cultural Christianity

I tend to be less of a Christian critic than many of my contemporaries.  I have been given the gift of acceptance from God, and I pass that gift onto others. It has been a long growing process, when I first became a Christian I believed I could tell who was heaven bound by the words they spoke or the things they did. Today I am hesitant to claim any knowledge of specific in or out decisions. This started a somewhat heated discussion with my husband a few weeks ago.

He has a much more firm standard of Christianity than I do, he has an in and out list.  I suggested he leave those decisions to God.  He suggested I be careful what I believe. I explained that accepting that I my not be the ultimate authority in what God expects of his people was OK with me. He explained that God expects us to have different relationships with those who do not believe. I explained that accepting people did not mean I beleived everything they believed. He explained that if I found problems with their beliefs perhaps I needed to question why I thought they were Christian. Yes, it was a long night. And true to form, I think we both has some legitimate points.

My main point was that the Christianity I know, United States at the change of the millennium, is only one type of Christianity. I explained that Christians in other countries may not subscribe to the standard US list of dos and don’ts. I explained that for most of history Christian’s didn’t even have access to their own copy of the Bible, and were probably illiterate anyway, but is their Christianity any less pleasing to God than mine? I explained that I am not accepting of everything as truth, but I am willing to accept the potential in Christian practices of other cultures. I am willing to seek the truth from God and to learn from those whose Christianity looks a little different from mine.

Last week my husband brought me a book he had read a few years prior. He said he had been thinking about a comment from the book ever since our discussion. In the book, the author shares that if I, as a modern Christian, were given the opportunity to travel to medieval times to visit with Christians of that era, they would never accept me as a Christian. My beliefs would not line up with theirs. For starters, I believe the Earth revolves around the sun. I believe the Earth is not the center of the universe. My clothing would be considered completely immodest and offer proof of my prostitution. And though we know know these things are not true, they made complete sense to the science and religion of that day and to suggest otherwise made me guilty of  heresy. I am simply not a Christian when the standard is medieval Christianity.

I mention these things, because when you offer yourself as a Christian providing services for other Christians, you must accept that not everyone who considers themselves a Christian will believe all the things you believe. This will leave you with two choices, either you decide they are not really a Christian (and it will come across in your attitude, voice and words), or you relax your standard and accept that just like you they are seeking to know Christ better.

I am not suggesting you have no standards for your Christianity. But I am suggesting that if you want to work with other Christian families you broaden your definition of what it looks like to actively seek to serve Christ. In that way, not only do you give the other families the best opportunity to grow in Christ, but you also allow yourself the best opportunity to learn more about who God is and what he desires of you.

The following two tabs change content below.
Jennifer Vanderlaan CNM MPH is the author of the website. She has been working with expectant families since 2000, training doulas and childbirth educators, and midwives. She has worked with midwives in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her interest in public health grew in 2010, and she is now a PhD student in a nursing program learning to become a producer of knowledge.

Latest posts by Jennifer Vanderlaan (see all)