Essay: Modern Christian Beliefs

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Work, Career, And Vocation

In contemporary times, the concept of work has changed radically since the time of Christ. Today, work, career, and vocation typically comprise issues and purposes that can either bring the individual close to God or that can take the individual farther from God and from Christian values. Certain approaches to work, career, and vocation are consistent with Christian values and ideals whereas others are decidedly contradictory to Christian values. As a contemporary Christian, it is the responsibility of every individual to identify the types of work, career, and vocations that support and fit within the Christian perspective and to distinguish them from those that do not support or that actually conflict directly with Christian ideology.

In principle, the main issues in this regard are those that pertain to the glorification of personal ego rather than respect for the supremacy of the Lord; those that produce or contribute to products or outcomes that are inconsistent with Christian values; and those that focus excessively on the accumulation of wealth or material possessions for their own sake. Meanwhile, it is also possible, instead, to conceive of work, career, and vocation in a manner that fully supports Christian ideals, such as in connection with honoring God, providing benefits to other people and to society in general, and that do not emphasize goals that contradict Christian values.

Personal Egoism vs. Recognition of the Lord's Supremacy

The nature of many contemporary work opportunities is such that they can emphasize and reward the motivation toward self-importance and the inclination of some individuals to dominate others or to demonstrate their superiority or accomplishments. In that respect, the fact that the activities themselves also generate gainful income or even that they provide beneficial goods and services to others does not purify them of their underlying contradiction with Christian values to the extent they serve to glorify the importance of the individual instead of acknowledging the supremacy of the Lord. That is not necessarily to suggest that all work must relate directly to glorifying God directly because most types of work, career, and vocation are entirely neutral in that respect: they neither glorify God nor do they contradict the notion of God's supremacy. However, where the work that one chooses expressly glorifies the individual instead of God, or where work promotes the special qualities or character of the individual, it contradicts the fundamental assumption that God is supreme and that any and all natural talents, abilities, and attributes of individuals are merely gifts bestowed on mortals by God.

Outcomes of Work that Contradict Christian Values

It is also possible for gainful employment to violate Christian values and ideals by virtue of the inherent nature of the products or services furnished by that work. That is particularly true in contemporary societies in which secular law rather than biblical law set forth the standards and laws that govern what types of work may and may not be performed in society. Contemporary examples would include operating establishments that promote irresponsible consumption of liquor and various entertainment industries that glorify and exploit sexuality completely outside of the scope of Christian values with respect to human sexuality and fidelity in marriage.

The Accumulation of Material Wealth and the Exploitation of Others

In principle, the practical purpose of contemporary work is to earn a monetary living; that is simply a natural function of the system of monetary currency as means of bartering the goods, services, and talents of all members of society efficiently. However, it is also possible for work and career to become overly focused on the accumulation of wealth for the mere sake of wealth and for the perceived social status and relative power with which accumulated wealth typically is typically associated. To the extent work generates income necessary to provide for the needs of the individual and family, work supports Christian values of responsibility and good sheppardship over dependents. However, where work and career become focused on the accumulation of wealth for the sake of self-glorification, social status, and the achievement of power over others, it contradicts Christian values in that respect. Finally, there are some forms of contemporary work that are considered legal under secular law but that, in principle, violate Christian values. For example, secular law permits sales techniques that would be considered exploitative under stricter Christian values. Typical examples might include some of the approaches taken by product advertisers and the sales strategies used by automobile dealerships.

Strengths and Weaknesses

There is no question that Christian values as applied to the concepts of work, career, and vocation help prevent man from straying, even inadvertently, from Christian values. The adherence to a Christian analysis of work issues is particularly important in contemporary society by virtue of the fact that secular law defines what is permissible and impermissible but secular law is not necessarily always consistent with Christianity. There are no conceivable weaknesses to adhering to Christian values in the workplace except to the extent that doing so might sometimes conflict with the expectations of others.

Sex, Marriage and Family

Introduction

Christian values recognize the importance of sexual relations in human life but in a manner that is radically different from the manner in which sexual relations are promoted and valued in contemporary Western societies. In particular, contemporary Western culture encourages elements of sexual expression and conduct that directly conflict with Christian ideals and moral values. Generally, contemporary concepts of Marriage and Family are consistent with Christian values except in particular circumstances where individuals may depart from the expectations of society.

Sex

According to Christian values, sexual relations are intended as a gift from God meant only to be enjoyed within the bounds of formal marriages between husband and wife. The most important purpose of sexual relations within marriage is the furtherance of God's command to be fruitful and multiply and in that respect, there is no doubt within Christianity of the significance of sexual relations in marriage. While different interpretations exist with respect to the propriety of marital sexual relations outside of the express purpose of procreation, general Christian values tend to allow marital sexual relations for their value to maintaining the marital bond irrespective of specific intention to procreate. Provided that no measures are taken to prevent procreation through natural processes, it is likely that marital sexual relations need not necessarily be specifically intended to result in procreation to be consistent with Christian values. By contrast, contemporary Western societies frequently glorify, promote, or merely condone sexual relations among unmarried people and among individuals of the same gender. Naturally, all of those forms of sexuality violate Christian values in fundamental ways because they occur outside of the bond of marriage that is recognized by God.

Marriage

In general, contemporary marriage reflects a union of one man and one woman before God. That is precisely the notion of marriage that is sanctioned by Christian authorities and that fulfills the intention of God with respect to the commandment to be fruitful and multiply. Christian values require that marital partners love, honor, and obey one another as well. In some situations, contemporary marriages do not conform to the Christian definition of marriage, such as where they may be undertaken for convenience, citizenship status, financial considerations, or where the fundamental purpose of marriage is not genuine love and a desire to procreate.

In general, all of the Christian ideals that pertain to life outside of marriage also apply within marriage. Specifically, marital partners are obligated to treat one another as they would wish to be treated and to do unto one another according to that fundamental Christian principle. Naturally, Christian concepts of marriage absolutely preclude extramarital sexual relations with or without mutual consent. Likewise, they also prohibit engaging in other types of social relationships or interactions that could potentially be harmful to the emotional psyche of the partners, irrespective of whether or not there is any sexual component to those interactions. Respect of the marital partners for one another is of paramount importance in Christian concepts of marriage in general. That is a concern in contemporary times because many types of social interactions that are encouraged in secular society may violate the limits of what would be acceptable in terms of showing respect for marital partners according to the Christian perspective on marriage.

Family

The Christian view of family is one that assumes that parents will be fully responsible for shaping the moral values of their children and for providing the necessary background and foundation to enable them to choose the Christian path for themselves as they mature. Secular notions of family relations tend to be more permissive because they generally recognize autonomy of choice in children with respect to their beliefs and values before they reach the age of majority.

Just as in the case of Christian values with respect to marriage, Christian values that pertain to family life also recognize the fundamental importance of basic principles of mutual respect and dignity except that the will and desires of parents… [END OF PREVIEW]

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