Cultural Conditioning When Evaluating Christian Morality
Many people reject Christianity because they disagree with one or more of its moral teachings. They reason that, “If the Bible really was from God, it would not prohibit/condone _______.” What someone puts in this blank space will usually depend on the time and place they live in. Those who live in the 21st-century Western world will often cite something like restrictive sexual standards, abortion, gay marriage, etc. They will argue that Christianity is wrong on these matters and needs to “get on the right side of history.”
But those who live in other times and places will disagree with other issues. In certain Middle-Eastern countries, many people argue that Christianity is too permissive on matters of sexuality and modesty. In other societies, Christianity’s stand against infanticide and child sacrifice (which was commonly practiced in the ancient world) made no sense. And in still other places, the Christian notion of forgiveness is preposterous. Almost every society has some issue on which Christian moral standards are regarded with disdain. And in each of these societies, the standards they hold to are “obviously” correct.
Although it is understandable that people would use their moral intuitions and moral reasoning to evaluate the Christian worldview, these same people often fail to appreciate their own limitations. What are the chances that, of all the societies that have ever existed, one particular society is the only one to have gotten all of its moral standards perfectly correct? Isn’t that rather arrogant? Isn’t it much more likely that every society has something wrong? And if that's so, shouldn't that be factored in when evaluating Christian moral claims? Being aware of how our cultural conditioning can distort reality is an important step toward discovering truth.