What defines what’s acceptable for a given period of time?
That was the question we were discussing on my way home from work yesterday. It had to do with music and dancing in worship in Africa, and the question asked was, is this acceptable for Christians to do, or are they wrong to do it?
I likened it to our conversations on modesty and clothing, that modesty is somewhat defined by the culture at the time and some absolutes. This means that I believe that there are clothes that are modest, but that what must be covered or the way in which it is covered may vary by culture. I postulated that when Peter and Paul admonished women in the New Testament to be modest, they didn’t think of the whole pants/skirt debate, but were probably thinking about the type of robe she wore. Does that mean that all Christian ladies should dress the way that they were thinking when they wrote it– that all Christian women should be dressed like New Testament women? I don’t think so.
Same thing with music and dancing. I believe that there is a component of deciding what music is glorifying to God that includes association. If you have a tune or a melody that’s associated with evil, it does not glorify God no matter if you pair great words to it– the association still makes it bad.
But this might not exist in a different culture, so it could be acceptable there– it depends on the other factors– those that are intrinsically right or wrong.
How would you respond to this challenging question? What’s an absolute and what can vary with culture, and how can we rightly discern what is permissible and what we should be admonishing our brother to leave behind?