“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” Romans 12: 2 (The Message)
Chameleons are best known as lizards that can change their body color to fit in with their surroundings. The pigment of their skin helps them blend in with their habitats, in an attempt to survive and avoid being seen – and eaten – by their predators.
“One of the most amazing techniques for survival in the wild is camouflage. Animals can mimic plants, ground cover, or even other animals in order to hide or hunt. Camouflage is a coloration or pattern that helps an animal blend in with its surroundings. Animals use various types of camouflage to hide themselves from predators, as well as for predators to hide themselves from potential prey!” (www.kingscamp.com/blog/camouflage-in-nature)
Today, as intense political correctness has morphed into “cancel culture”, there are plenty of cultural chameleons, who change their look – and their opinions – in order to blend in with what’s “trending now”. The lack of a foundational constant in their thinking stirs in them a desire to put on camouflage and regurgitate the current mantra, with the hope of avoiding an attack by any lurking piranhas or predators.
RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) is a label given to some people who camouflage their ideology to appear in line with the latest opinion poll or media hype. Certainly, there are politicians on both sides of the aisle who don’t represent their constituents who elected them and are now “going with the flow” with some of the most extreme policy decisions in Washington.
But it’s not just politicians who are cultural chameleons. In this category are some TV personalities, podcasters, radio talk show hosts, athletes, movie stars, corporation CEOs, and even a number of Christian leaders and pastors. Several Christian denominations appear to embrace the latest social swing away from biblical precepts, only to endorse and promote the viewpoints of current social media influencers. As social media platforms take an increasingly dominant position in the world of mass media, the desire by many followers to acquiesce to the latest viewpoint and “fit in” increases as well. The result is that those who hold fast to what they believe to be “right and true” seem to be old-fashioned, out of step, and perhaps even dangerous to those attempting to influence the norms of the masses.
Social issues abound, including illegal immigration, transgender athletes, climate change, supply chain problems, critical race theory, the green new deal, abortion, gun rights and gun control, infanticide and imposed euthanasia, gay marriage… the list goes on and on. Many of our friends and colleagues, church members – and maybe even family members – are finding their minds have been influenced by social pressure and they have indeed become cultural chameleons – indistinguishable from the current landscape of definitive views touted through various media.
Certainly, Christians must be concerned about social issues. The theme is reiterated throughout the Bible to “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” (Isaiah 1:17 NIV) We are not meant to just stand by and watch injustice and mistreatment of our fellow man. Action is required.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:24-25: “These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.” (The Message)
It’s difficult to remain steadfast and in line with God’s Word as Christ-followers in a high-pressure world of new – and sometimes hate-filled – controversies. But is it necessary to modify our beliefs and thinking to fit into the rapidly moving waters of the current? Or is taking a stand now more important than ever?
So how can we help teens become media-savvy about the culture that surrounds them?
Controversial topics arise each week, it seems, and teens need guidance to work through these concerns. Conversation is more necessary than ever. There is no “values vacuum”. If values are not personally and passionately shared in the home, church, and youth group, young people will absorb the values of the culture as declared through various media and their social interactions. Try these discussion starters:
• “How would you describe a cultural chameleon?”
• “What issue is the most bothersome to you in our culture right now? Are you aware of any scripture which might tell us God’s view of the issue? Let’s open God’s Word and see if we can determine His perspective.”
• “Let’s watch the news on TV this evening together and discuss the latest events that are stirring up people’s emotions in our country.”
• “As we live our daily lives, what hope of a firm foundation for knowing right and wrong can we have?”
• “Do you know of leaders from any time in history or any place on earth who took a stand for righteousness, despite unpleasant – or maybe even fatal – consequences? Let’s make a list of those leaders.” (Suggest investigating Rosa Parks, William Wilberforce, Jim Elliot, William Tyndale, Eric Liddell, Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA, Tim Tebow – former Denver Bronco, Kirk Cameron – Hollywood actor, and Joseph Kennedy – football coach at Bremerton High School who just won the Supreme Court ruling about prayer).
• “What makes it so challenging to speak against popular views with the words of our Christian beliefs?”
• “What cultural issues did Jesus speak about when he walked on the planet? Which of these issues bothers you? Do any of these issues still exist today?”
• “How can we take a stand for what we believe to be right, even knowing it may be dismissed and perhaps even mocked by others?”
• “Romans 12:2 in The Message states: ‘Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.’ What does this mean to you?”
Note: Share this blog with your church’s youth pastor as a lesson for youth group gatherings.
Sue Summers is a Christian media analyst, teacher, author, and speaker. She is the Director of Media Alert!
#MediaSavvyKids, #ChristianParenting, #ChurchAndCulture, #YouthPastors, #YouthGroupCurriculum, #HelpForChristianParents, #TeensAndCulture, #AChangingCulture, #CriticalThinkingAndTeens, #IAmNotDefinedByTheCulture, #CulturalChameleons, #BlendingInToBeAccepted, #PuttingOnCamouflage, #TakeAStand
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