by Kevin V. Rutherford


Those who have preached the Gospel in foreign lands understand that one must be sensitive to different cultures.  Where culture does not conflict with the Word of God there is no need to try and change that aspect of culture. However, when culture conflicts with the Gospel, culture must change.  For example, there are some tribes in Africa that allow multiple wives for their chiefs. Culture accepts that, but God does not (Matthew 19:1-9).  God allows a man to have only one wife.  Those who preach in those villages must not compromise God’s laws concerning marriage in order to fit in with the culture.

This is just as true concerning our own culture as it is any foreign culture. Our own culture is constantly fluctuating.  We saw an increase in cultural moral standards from the late 1800’s to the 1950’s.  Our nation then began to see moral decline within its culture beginning perhaps in the 1960’s.  No matter how much our culture may change, we must always remember that God’s Word never changes (1 Peter 1:22-25).  We must also remember that the Bible always take precedence over culture.  For example, it has become common within our culture to accept homosexuality.  However, homosexuality is condemned by the Bible as sin (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).  We must not compromise with the culture.

Christians today have lowered their moral standards in response to culture.  It is culturally acceptable and normal for young girls and women to dress immorally.  While it is just as wrong for men to dress immodestly, the push in our society seems to be mainly aimed at exposing women.  Women are to emphasize the “hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God (1 Peter 3:2-4).”  Instead, we have “Christian” girls and women who seem much more interested in showing off their bodies than in setting forth a pure example of modest Christian beauty.

Many churches of Christ today are compromising with the religious culture of the day.  Rather than looking to the New Testament as our guide, congregations of the Lord’s body are looking to the denominations.  So many of our brethren are more concerned with what is causing growth in numbers among mega denominational churches than they are with what the Bible says.  We once advocated going back to the Bible and doing only that which we find authority for in the Bible.  Now that idea is ridiculed by “Gospel” preachers and elders in the Lord’s church.

In compromising with the religious culture of the day, churches of Christ have begun to incorporate all manner of unauthorized practices.  Some examples would include: choirs (choruses/praise teams), drama teams, “religious” rock, pop, and country singing groups, “religious” comedians, and all kinds of other forms of entertainment.  Our culture is an entertainment soaked society.  That cultural aspect has filtered (or perhaps flooded) into the church. Now, our brothers and sisters in Christ find it boring to listen to sermons and sing congregationally.  However, a very important question must be asked of all of the modem cultural innovations in the church.  That is, “Where is your authority for such a practice?”

The influence of the culture upon the church of Christ is partially the result of ignorance (willful disobedience is another reason).  Hosea said the Jews were destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6).  The Lord’s church today is being destroyed for lack of knowledge.  We need to educate our congregations in fundamentals of marriage, morality, worship, doctrine, etc.  So many times preachers have begun to preach so many “feel good” sermons that the brethren don’t ever receive hard hitting and much needed lessons.  Congregations no longer endure sound doctrine and are hiring those preachers and “youth ministers” who will tell them what they want to hear (2 Timothy 4:1-5).  It is no wonder the culture is having so much influence on the church,

It is the purpose of the Lord’s church to influence the culture where culture needs to change.  The Lord’s church must not be influenced by culture where culture conflicts with Bible principles and precepts.  Are you compromising with the culture?