Christianity, Culture, and Spirituality…

There is an interesting debate which crops up from time to time amongst my fellow Christians.  It has to do with all three of the things mentioned in the title of this piece; Christianity, Culture, and Spirituality.

The Olympics in China have actually brought this back into my thoughts, as well as some discussion on a Christian message board.  The debate usually starts (just as one example of a larger phenomenon) something like this, “Is it ok for Christians to do yoga?”  There are many many different POVs on questions such as this…I have one too; it depends.

It’s going to be my standard answer right off the bat; what you do and don’t do is between you and God.  Remember, freedom in Christ, but freedom comes with a lot of responsibility.  But, to get more detailed, I would say it totally depends upon what form of yoga someone is talking about, who’s teaching it, is it aimed at spiritual matters, or merely physical?  Can you as an individual separate the spiritual aspect from the physical? etc…

One side of the issue is that yoga began as a Hindu practice, and some of the forms are indeed aimed at certain “gods.”  But the thing that gets me, is that for most Christians who are against yoga, they say that if the forms are changed slightly and accompanied by scripture (just as an example) then it is ok.  I understand this point of view, because that is exactly what the Roman church did with things like Christmas and Easter.

Take a pagan occurrence, practice, celebration, etc… and take it over, change it, Christianize it.  It is all a very interesting discussion, one which I’m not going to go into any any great depth here, I’m more just thinking out loud, so to speak.

How about meditation?  How about Tai Chi?  How about any martial arts?  I know you know what is coming from me at least; it depends.  What are you meditating on?  Are you chanting, or even repeating a vain “prayer?” Then no.  Are you simply calming you heart and meditating on God’s word…why not?  But, again, some people will be able to completely divorce the spiritual aspects of things like Tai Chi from the purely physical or mental.  The Holy Spirit is there to guide each one of us; some should stay completely away, and some can and will handle it.

If you are going to an instructor, or a dojo, or a studio; use your eyes and also talk to the instructor.  Is there a shrine?  Then stay away.  Do they force you to participate in the meditation exercises and you don’t really want to?  Don’t go back.  The Holy Spirit does guide us, and God gave us common sense…well, most of us, anyway.

It is a heart matter.  You know if you are offering up something to false “gods” or if you are simply trying to maintain your physical flexibility.  Now, of course, as in the rest of life, there are certain things that no Christian should “mess with” such as playing around with  an ouija board; there’s nothing to “separate” there folks, it isn’t a mere board (or bored) game…you are asking questions to whom exactly whilst “playing” with a ouija board?

So, I do think there are some “black and white” issues; should you light a “punk” and place it in front of a statue of Buddha because the rest of your family is Buddhist and wants you to because it is a part of “your culture.”  Probably not a good move.

Anything that the Bible explicitly touches upon and instructs us to avoid, we should.  If you are in doubt about something, stay away from it.  If you are feeling guilty about something, don’t do it again, or find an alternative.  Long discussion short; pray about it, read any pertinent scripture, and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Scripture?  Romans 14 speaks to issues such as these I believe.  We should indeed always keep our “witness” in mind as we either participate or refuse to participate in certain activities.  We should not help to cause a brother/sister to stumble in the exercise of our freedom (look over 1 Corinthians chapter 8).  As always, don’t trust my ideas on all of this, I’m a fallible human; dig into it on your own and pray about it…I would be interested in any thoughts on this subject if anyone cares to comment.


Filed under Of Interest, Philosophy, Sacred Secular, Theology

5 responses to “Christianity, Culture, and Spirituality…

  1. chowder619

    This is an excellent observation to the simple question ‘what is alright in the eyes of Christ?’. It is obviously stretched far beyond its means in today’s culture. To add to the activities portion of the article in terms of yoga, tai chi so on and so forth, these practices are man made, named created what have you. In other words, more often than not, a Christ driven work that promotes His utmost priorities seems like it would be accepted. However, the question of hot and cold Christian comes into the picture. Figuratively speaking, gray does not appear in God’s color scheme.

  2. Kliska

    I agree with much of what you present, but if we look at humanity, and scripture, what we find is that some people will consider something a sin which is not…but if they truly consider that something a sin, or feel led to stay away from, then the faith act is to stay away from it.

    To give a concrete example, I do think that the Holy Spirit will lead some believers away from drinking alcohol; however, drinking alcohol in and of itself isn’t a sin. Faith is following what we are led to (and of course what we are led to will not contradict scripture)…the only “gray” area I see is the personal guidance only in the sense of some things may be a bit different from person to person.

  3. DB Williams

    “…the only “gray” area I see is the personal guidance only in the sense of some things may be a bit different from person to person.”

    Yes, Jesus, was scorned, by the Pharisees, because his disciples were picking and eating grain on the sabbath. This was the legalistic dogma of the Pharisees, which still, unfortunately, keeps many from experiencing the freedom that Christ came to give us, but…, as you said, “…freedom comes with responsibility.” If we’re stumbling anyone with our freedom, then we are doing harm to them and ourselves. Paul said, “All things are legal, but not all things are profitable….but I will not be enslaved to anything.

    We, as believers, must realize that God is leading us to the same end, but in, sometimes, very different ways, and unless we know a believer, in a very personal way, then we have to be careful of making judgments about their actions. This is not to say, of course, that if a brother or sister is blatantly outside of God’s will that we shouldn’t become involved, but we have to be weary of our tendencies to be legalistic and judgmental, which isn’t of Christ or God either!

    As you said, very well, if it feels wrong, according to the spirit, then it is! I struggle sometimes to hear and sense what His spirit is trying to tell me!


  4. Kliska

    I agree; it can be hard to discern His guidance, but praise Him, He has a way of correcting us if we get it wrong. Heh.

    Of course, the correction isn’t always pleasant, but always instructive, and done in love! I’m totally with you on the judgment issue, I’m still trying to dig the log out of my own eye…

  5. DB Williams

    “Of course, the correction isn’t always pleasant, but always instructive, and done in love! I’m totally with you on the judgment issue, I’m still trying to dig the log out of my own eye…”

    Agreed, and me too!

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