Social Conformity, Tradition and The Opinions that Matter

This quote stood out for me. I read it at the beginning of summer but it has been sticking with me. As it says, “how we look at other people also
shows our standard of honor and shame”, and so many of the sins we wrestle with daily come down to this. How we look at others affects what we strive to protect in ourselves. How we see others is intimately related to how we desire others to see ourselves which is the basis of much sin. And sadly we too often use Traditon, customs and history to mask this fact as Christians.

“Paul’s words challenge us to examine our
hearts to identify those whose opinions matter
most to us. Who, with a single comment, can
make or break our day? Who can most easily
change our mind or crush our spirit? These
questions reveal our motives and our moral
compass. How we look at other people also
shows our standard of honor and shame.
Whom do we criticize or praise, and why?
Shame is usually associated with noncon-
formity, yet conformity also can be an expres-
sion of sin. As long as we satisfy social expec-
tations, we can handpick certain sins to con-
demn while we ignore others. So long as we
gather with people who agree with us, we can
overlook our own vices. We face the subtle
temptation to use tradition, custom, and his-
tory to justify behaviors or attitudes as normal
and right.

Community, denomination, and cul-
ture mask our injustices and insecurities.
We scarcely hear the voice of conviction
amid the applause of a crowd. Those in the
church might confuse social conformity and
godly character. We secure good reputations
by following social rules. At the same time,
those norms can blind us to sin. No one is free
from sin simply because other people do not
know about it. Greeks boasted in wisdom, yet
this is precisely why they excused prejudice to-
ward “foolish barbarians.” ²⁰

As with wisdom, many of God’s gifts can
become reasons for shame.”

– Reading Romans with Eastern Eyes: Honor and Shame in Paul’s Message and Mission (Jackson Wu)

Published by davetcourt

I am a 40 something Canadian with a passion for theology, film, reading writing and travel.

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