Colossians 2:8 “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”
I want to discuss in this post about what many Christians proclaim on traditional values. Among very conservative Christians, there is a lot of discussion on what or lack of the long forgotten traditional ideals and morals of the by gone era and how society as been hindered because of some of its loss and the longing to bring back these ideals for the modern society. The debate can be about a variety of beliefs regarding roles, attitudes, behavior whether it’s the lack of defined gender roles, family values, good parenting, behaviors among the youth or basic civility and common decency to each other.
In many of their minds, things were so much better in the nostalgic golden days where things were so much simpler and everyone knew their roles and place. They blame a variety of changes that came in the past several decades that destroyed these ideals, whether it’s the rise of the women’s movement, the hippie culture, the sexual revolution, etc. The only solution for these Christians is to revive the traditional models of past and blend them into modern society which many are already doing by teaching in the churches, books, programs, movements and on websites. The beliefs among such groups will vary depending on how ultra-conservative traditional they are.
For example, there is Dr. Robert Lewis of “Men’s Fraternity: Authentic Manhood” who also wrote the book “Rocking the Roles” which goes beyond the old fashioned 1950s family model and the 1980s modern family unit altogether with perfect balance of both. Many others follow this philosophy trying to avoid pandering to either extremes of the patriarchal model and the post-feminist model. However, there very patriarchal and traditionalists groups who want to rebuke many of the modern values of today for nostalgic cultural idealogy blaming feminism for most of the confusion, the changing gender roles and lack of morals in society. It’s not just Christians who long for revive the traditional way of life.
Even some in the secular society are becoming less satisfied of today’s society bellowing how some of the old ways were so much better, be it the morals, the attitudes, the fashion, movies, TV, music, gender roles, family models and basically how people treat others, how things were less expensive. For them, many things were so much better in the by gone eras of the past decades and they longed to have been born in another time period era. There is a retro style going on recently among younger and older folks who are fascinated by all things in the past especially the fashion, hairstyles, music style, books, classic films, celebrities, etc. Many of these folks run blogs and websites expressing their new fascination. TV shows like “Mad Men”, “Downton Abbey” and any time period dramas also perpetuate the theories of the innocence and simplicity of the past. I will admit that I agree to this only to an extant.
I myself have some partially old fashioned morals and beliefs balanced with some modern views depending on the circumstances. I support reviving some good ideals that are considered traditional or even outdated that are beneficial, while other negative ideals we can leave in the past. In fact, most modern people have some of old fashioned views they follow. However, I can’t help but think for many who long for the nostalgic ways of life hold onto a very romanticized idealistic image the golden eras. Mostly from people who are fed up with drudgeries and standards of the modern world benefit the most from the past generations. Mainly women who don’t desire the equal responsibilities of today and revel in being housewives, focusing only on caring for the homes and children, being treated like ladies, etc or men desire being the main breadwinners, not debating their wives over careers, and household chores and all the privileges of the patriarchic society and when things were much cheaper.
This is mostly true among Christian traditionalist groups, as many want to abandon all the modern values altogether and live as if they are living in a different era, with al the different standards, customs, values that were common. Although there are many positive things about the past generations, there were also plenty of downsides and not all people would have benefited the by gone eras. For example, decades ago racism, sexism, Anti-Semitism and other forms are bigotry were more rampant than today. Laws were made to discriminate against others, like the Jim Crow laws in the deep south that encouraged racial segregation. Basically, laws didn’t protect all people due to their race, gender, or religion.
Black people were oppressed especially in the south where unfair treatment, lynchings, abuse, rapes etc commonly occurred. Women were regarded as second-class citizens and marital rape, spousal abuse, sexual harassment were not illegal during past decades. There weren’t any stalking laws to protect citizens from harassment. Also, back in the days, many people were more narrow-minded, naïve or ignorant on certain things in situations. Many had to fight for rights and opportunities many others already had, for the black people it was the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, for women it was the women’s movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Other minorities also had to fight for fair treatment and dealt with many of the struggles in the process. T
Today, we live in a more egalitarian society where all people are protected equally under the law, have gained more equal opportunities and fairness. We are also less ignorant upon becoming more acknowledgeable in certain fields which is making good progress including technology. We also have many advantages than we had in the past.. Having growing up in the more equal society, I wouldn’t to live in the era my parents grew up and deal with all the struggles that black people and women as well as other minorities had to endure. I’m satisfied in living in an era with all the progress it has made. Of course today, there are also some downsides and disadvantages as not all things have changed for the better but for the worse, but that doesn't take away many of the positive sides of in the present time.
As a Christian, I strive to live the modern society adapting godly principles in today’s culture, learning to differentiate between biblical ideals and culture ideals not confusing the two. I think it is better to stop moaning about how great it was in the past and wishing to have been born in another era or to go back to the way it used to be. The by gone era of the past decades are over and we can never go back to those time periods and shouldn’t. Instead, we should accept the present and look to the future. However that doesn’t mean we have to abandon all of the traditional ideals and customs of the past.
As I said before, part of moving forward could be preserving and reviving some of the good ideals, morals and customs of the past generations for the newer generation to adapt to adapt and honor which could be beneficial in today’s society while balancing them out with some progressive ideals of the changing times.