Thursday, July 28, 2005

Conversations with Angie: Cultures differ in their moral values


Well, I understand all the arguments so far. One thing that struck me
in particular was when you said:

"Cultures may come up with rules, but they can change them any time
they want. They can get rid of them altogether. Whatever rules they
came up with would only be conventions that applied within those

Ever since I first traveled to a foreign country (1998), I've thought
a lot about the relationship between culture and religion. It seemed
to me that a number of beliefs and practices that Christian Americans
believed to be imperatives inherent to their faith were, in fact, only
culturally ingrained beliefs.

I noticed, for example, that while many Christians in America believe
that President Bush is a believer who is not afraid to stand up for
his beliefs, Christians in France, Switzerland, and England are
completely perplexed because it seems to them that although Bush
claims to be a Christian, his actions are a direct contradiction to
that claim. I also noticed, for example, that many young believers in
Switzerland and France (I spent 8 months in France and 6 weeks in
Switzerland before) do not seem to feel that it is wrong to be
sexually active outside of marriage. Now, I know that that is also
true for some here in the US, but there is generally more of an
attitude or underlying consensus here that says that fornication is a
sin. I didn't really get that impression there.

Another example is capital punishment. I never met a Christian in
Europe who felt that capital punishment was acceptable. In fact, they
believed that their faith - even Jesus himself - forbade it. They
could not comprehend why any Christians anywhere would be supportive
of such a practice. In fact, one man actually told me that it made
him wonder about the state of the Church in America.

But I've also seen some cultural differences on a smaller scale - from
church to church here in the US. The most obvious example from my
experience regards dating. My old congregation basically taught that
young people should not date. Obviously, this was very different from
the what was (and is) the cultural norm in many churches. But even
more interesting - and this is an illustration of cultures changing
the rules - I recently saw someone from my old congregation, and she
admitted that they had probably been a little too strict in that area.
Basically, after the conversation, I understood that although they
still didn't feel that dating as it happens in America was the best
way to go about meeting a spouse, it wasn't entirely dangerous,
either. So I thought, "huh. In the space of a few years, they've
really changed their tune about this."

Anyway, all of this is kind of a side note, I guess. But it really
does make me wonder.

Looking forward to reading about premise two...


Conversations with Angie:  Different moral opinions do not negate the existence of objective moral values


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