These thoughts are adapted from Natasha Crain’s book “Faithfully Different.”
As a Christian, I often feel like I’m going against the grain of popular modern secular culture and living for Jesus. Sadly I sometimes look at others in a judgmental way and think, “I am different. I’m not living like the world.” Maybe you’ve felt the same way. If we’re honest, we allow modern secular culture to influence us more than we think. We see it everywhere, whether online, on social media, in music, or even on Netflix. It is hard to push away all influence of modern secular culture, and it is all around us. So are we to embrace some of it or have nothing to do with it? Should Christians hide or run from every new and modern cultural trend? But wait, what exactly is modern secular culture? How would you define it?
Authority of Self
Modern secular culture, defined in a simple phrase, would be the “authority of self.” Authority of self in that I do what feels best and makes me the happiest. We hear phrases beating this mantra, saying, “do what makes you happy.” We also hear people saying “YOLO” (You Only Live Once) and other phrases such as “self-love.” These popular phrases are just repeating the authority of self belief systems. Authority of self seeks to make you believe that nothing or no one is more important than yourself. It seeks to shift all your attention to who you are; based on that, you have all the power within to do all you want to do if only you can look deep down within. It is a push towards self-worship and elevation of pride that “you are self-made, self-direct, self-determine.”
Feelings guide the modern secular culture. Its goal is to seek happiness, God and money become a means to these ends, and man becomes the ultimate benefactor. Below are the main tenets of the Morden Secular culture.
Feelings are the Ultimate Guide
The first pillar of the authority of self is that feelings are the ultimate guide. We see this through popular statements such as “self-love”, “follow your heart”, “be your authentic self”, “you do you”, or “only you know what’s best for you”. Such statements encourage that only you are the authority and know what to do. So how do you know what to do? The answer is to listen to your feelings because they are the ultimate guide. Here you only do and pursue things and people that make you feel good about yourself and your decisions, regardless of how right or wrong you may be. There is an emphasis on ‘my truth’. As long as something feels ‘right’ to an individual, whether right or wrong, it is what you should follow when it feels right.
Happiness is the Ultimate Goal
The second pillar of the authority of self is that feeling good is the ultimate goal. We see this in that people say well, this belief, practice, thought, religion or anything makes me happy; therefore, it is right and ok. Since it makes someone happy, no one can say anything different; it is the ultimate mic drop. We see famous statements such as “do what makes you happy” or “live your best life now” strengthen this second tenant of the authority of self. Happiness would be the ultimate goal because if the ultimate authority is ourselves, then we must please ourselves by being as happy as possible by whatever means possible.
Judgement is the Ultimate Sin
The third pillar of the authority of self is that judgment is the ultimate sin. Saying that someone is wrong, misguided, or not based in reality is being judgmental, and that is the ultimate sin. Everyone is to celebrate anything that makes you happy because it shows you have reached your ultimate goal based on your truth. If you feel that what makes someone happy is wrong and verbalise it, you’re being judgmental. You must be quiet and think, if they’re happy, it’s ok. If self is the ultimate authority, then why would anybody be able to contradict what someone feels? That would be blasphemy in modern secular culture, and such thoughts are to be cancelled.
God is the Ultimate Guest
The fourth pillar of the authority of self is that God is the ultimate guest. A substantial percentage of people that follow modern secular culture believe in God. They may not believe in the God of Christianity, but they believe in a higher power or some form of a traditional culture power. The key is that God is a guest and not the ultimate authority. The ultimate authority belongs to self. Those who truly follow the authority of self are fine with others believing in God. However, whenever someone starts to say that God was manifested in the person of Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:15, 2:9, 2 Corinthians 4:6) and has revealed himself clearly through scripture (Luke 24:27, 44-45, 2 Peter 1:20-21, 2 Timothy 3:16) then things begin to get hostile. Scripture begins to cause a hindrance in being an authority above feelings and happiness. God is a guest, but he’s not an authority or revealed himself through scripture according to modern secular culture. If God had revealed himself through scripture, that means there is definitive truth above even feelings and happiness. Therefore in modern secular culture, God is only welcome as a guest. He is to rubberstamp what we are doing and feel is right. God is not the authority. To say otherwise would be to commit the ultimate sin of judgment.
Scripture Vs. Authority of Self
According to modern secular culture, authority is yourself, but the ultimate authority according to scripture is God (2 Chronicles 20:6, Isaiah 14:27, 46:10). But, is it good to have God be your authority? According to scripture, God is good, and as such, he would be excellent in leading you (Psalm 31:19-20, 34:8). God never changes and remains someone that you can rely on, unlike our feelings which change all of the time (James 1:17, Numbers 23:19, Hebrews 13:8).
Our happiness is subjective and inconsistent. Nothing is strong enough or enduring enough to make us happy consistently, but God is the only person that can fill us with joy forever (Psalm 16:11, Psalm 107:9, John 6:35, Psalm 22:26). Consider that even if someone gave you a new car, new house, prime land, and millions of dollars eventually your happiness in those four things would decrease and they would not satisfy you. On top of that, you will die, and those four things will not be able to stop death and judgment from coming your way (Hebrews 9:27).
The God that you face after death hates sin (Psalm 5:4-5), calls self-love sin (2 Timothy 3:2), and desires the worship of him and him alone (Exodus 20:3, Jeremiah 25:6). Therefore, don’t follow modern secular culture; but reject it and follow the Lord alone (1 Chronicles 16:25). He is a God of mercy (Ephesians 2:1-5) and desires a relationship with you (Matthew 11:28-29, Zephaniah 3:17) and knowing him is superior to anything modern secular culture can give (Psalm 16:11, Psalm 107:9).
1. Defending Your Faith In a Secular Culture – https://open.spotify.com/episode/5zczIW8CdaUzlMu3Nj9F95?si=aa5a25cb71f44f1b