Being a Foreigner in Your Own Culture
My lifestyle and my attitudes are ridiculed in films, on the TV, in media and in daily conversation. As a Christian, I want to live my life as a disciple of Jesus, and sometimes this leads to me feeling like a foreigner in my own culture.
Waiting before sex
A good example of this is my lifestyle as a single. Due to my conviction that God has created us and our sexuality, and that He therefore knows what’s best for us, I’m living a celibate life until (if) I get married.
I understand this seems strange in Norway today. Our society is extremely sex-focused, and promotes attitudes that assert that sex is a ‘must’ for a good, exciting life, and that confining sex to marriage is old-fashioned.
My lifestyle and my attitudes are ridiculed in films, on the TV, in media and in daily conversation. As a Christian, I want to live my life as a disciple of Jesus, and sometimes this leads to me feeling like a foreigner in my own culture. Virgins are labelled as boring, insecure, unpopular or just weird. Additionally, you can be portrayed as pitiful, and being oppressed by religion because you’re making a choice based on an authority in your life which is not defined by your feelings or the opinions of the majority.
People won’t always understand and you can feel alienated.
Not of this world
This is perhaps a result of the fact that God’s kingdom isn’t of this world (John 18:36). It is really only to be expected that you are different from most other people in some areas when you follow the culture of a kingdom that you don’t live in.
That’s because you have a different point of reference regarding the meaning of life, and how life should be stewarded. Imagine that I have a geometry compass. If I place my needle apart from all the others, then of course my circle will be in another place and contain different things than the others’ circles.
It’s not easy to be different, particularly in vulnerable phases of life.
I think it’s natural that we want to fit in. It’s not easy to be different, particularly in vulnerable phases of life. But I still think that it’s important to dare to go against the flow. Paul wrote to the church that they should not be like the world (Romans 12:2). I don’t think he meant that we should be against everything for the sake of being against it, but that there are actually areas of life where society’s culture has to give way for the kingdom of God’s culture.
There can be a cost sometimes, but we’re not meant to do it alone. In order to manage I think it’s important to be with others who have the same ‘compasses’, and talk openly and honestly about what’s happening in our lives, and what Jesus says about the choices we make. Furthermore, I think it’s important to read the Bible together, ponder over what it means and talk about the questions you have.
In our individualistic culture we can easily lose sight of the importance of Christian fellowship, but I think it’s a necessity if we are to cope with being a foreigner in the culture we live in. Remember: Christian fellowship isn’t limited to church on Sundays. It’s totally possible to meet other Christians at your school or place of study, in order to pray, read the Bible and talk about it!
The relationship with the Creator
Everything pales into insignificance when we gradually realise that we can have a relationship with the Creator of the universe, and that we’ll continue this relationship in eternity. Nothing else can be so great, so we can understand that life is about much more than trying to get as much recognition as possible, short-lived pleasures and positive psychological experiences during our 80–90 years on earth.
This article was written by Aase Victoria Wangen, intern at Laget (Norwegian Christian Student and School Association), and was originally published in iTro.no (republished with permission).