The Christian community has a long and unfortunate history of building walls to separate themselves from the outside world.
“We don’t go to movies.”
“We don’t read those types of books.”
“We don’t talk to those types of people.”
Sometimes it looks small, a verbal warning, a silent resignation from the culture. Other times it’s big and bombastic. Book, movie, or CD burnings. Designated nights for youth groups to bring their “questionable albums” to their youth pastor for prompt and proper disposal.
I believe much of the reason that Christians, certainly young people, collapse like a house of guards when met with the slightest resistance from an opposing worldview is due to this separatist ideology. I remember at many points feeling compelled after youth events or sermons to purge my film or music collections. I remember taking a large black trash bag and chucking nearly every horror or R-rated film I owned into it.
Some may applaud a decision like this, but what did it accomplish? I rid myself of films from “HELLywood,” but to what end? How did this strengthen me? I propose the notion that it didn’t. Did it block me from hearing opposing worldviews? At times, yes, though I would argue that many popular horror films actually reflect the Christian worldview more than the films many Christians would deem “acceptable.” (Films like Zootopia or Frozen present far more troubling worldviews than what is found in, say, The Conjuring series or even – content in some of the films aside – the surprisingly moralistic Friday the 13th series.)
Honestly, all it accomplished was to shut me off from the world. I was in a running position. Fleeing opposing worldviews.
The only issue with that was, as Christians, we are not to flee opposing worldviews, we are to engage them.
When I was constantly diverting and fleeing engagement with culture, I was inadvertently losing a lot.
First, I lost the ability to experience much of the beauty and artistry that can be found in the mediums of literature, music, and cinema. Even in media where the artist is presenting a worldview contrary to that of the Christian faith, the beauty of the art itself ironically reflects the creative character of God. Because we are made in his image, we cannot help but craft new and beautiful things. Creativity points to the glory of God.
Second, I lost my ability to truly “give an answer.” How could I defend my faith to the world when I had no understanding of the world’s philosophy? Paul – the apostle you likely hear the name of every other Sunday – was constantly engaging culture. The account of Paul’s visit to Mars Hill (Acts 17) alone shows his ability to properly engage with the ideology of the times. I think we’d do well to follow his example.
The best part of deciding to stop fleeing and start engaging is, we have the only logical worldview. There’s literally no reason to fear the world’s opposition because they don’t have a philosophical, theological, or scientific leg to stand on! We have that unique privilege as followers of Christ.
So engage! Don’t fear a culture that your Lord has dominion over.