Resisting Culture’s Mold

Scripture Focus: Genesis 30-19-20
19 Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son. 20 Then Leah said, “God has presented me with a precious gift. This time my husband will treat me with honor, because I have borne him six sons.” So she named him Zebulun. 

“Well, it’s right there in the Bible, so it must not be a sin. But it sure does seem like an awful dirty trick…” — Rich Mullins

Reflection: Resisting Culture’s Mold
By John Tillman

Laban’s daughters both recognize that they have been badly treated. The women describe their marriages as being “sold” like foreigners. (Genesis 31.14-15

Leah, in particular, was dehumanized by her experience. Laban sold her like overstocked inventory that had to be cleared off the shelf to make room for the new. (Genesis 29.25-28

Despite this, Leah continued to believe that fulfilling culture’s expectations of womanhood would bring her love and honor. She even resorted to purchasing sexual attention from Jacob, treating him (and her children) as mere tools in her war with her sister. 

The powerful often stay that way by setting groups that are less powerful against one another. Leah and Rachel are set against one another by their culture and family environment. They allow this cultural pressure to press them into a combative mold.

Our culture is not as “modern” in its morality as it thinks it is. Weaponized sexuality is not new. It is only the methods of weaponization that are new. Not only are women set against one another, but women against unborn children, and minorities against other minorities.

The cultural marriage norms followed by the patriarchs and passed down by Moses were condemned by Jesus as being the result not of God’s will but of men’s hard hearts. (Matthew 19:3-12) By contrast, God tenderly saw Leah was not loved and blessed her with children. (God sees all of those struggling amidst injustice.) God’s blessing was more than pity, but a tangible means to power and influence. (Genesis 29.31-32

Culture works to force us into its mold. God works to help us resist. The patriarchs were not immune to this pressure and neither are we. Just because our culture isn’t pressing us into the mold of polygamy, doesn’t mean that there is no mold or no pressure to conform.

Culture’s pressure comes with a false promise that, if we just submit to the mold, there will be peace. But, we can see from Leah’s example, that is false. Even though God worked within this sinful cultural practice to accomplish good purposes, Leah never received the love or respect she deserved.

Whatever hard-hearted cultural “solutions” we are pressured toward that are not of God, we must resist. Instead of being combative toward one another, we must be compassionate. God sees our struggle. We must never define our marriages, our sexuality, our politics, or anything else by culture’s mold.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
Show me your marvelous loving-kindness, O Savior of those who take refuge at your right hand from those who rise up against them.
Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me under the shadow of your wings. — Psalm 17.7-8

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Genesis 30 (Listen – 6:10)
Mark 1 (Listen – 5:05)

This Weekend’s Readings
Genesis 31 (Listen – 7:47), Mark 2 (Listen – 3:55)
Genesis 32 (Listen – 4:40), Mark 3 (Listen – 3:41)

Read more about It’s In The Bible
Polygamy was never in the Bible because God approved of it. It was there because the culture approved of it.

Read more about Cringing at Culture or at Christ?
When we don’t understand biblical culture, we tend to assume that our culture is better. This is always the wrong lesson. Always.

Grace that Makes Us :: Worldwide Prayer

Mark 1.14-15
Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Reflection: Grace that Makes Us :: Worldwide Prayer
By John Tillman

Through his grace our weakness is made strong.
Through his grace he leads us from doubt on to faith.
Through his grace we can share the gospel with others.
His grace makes us his own.

This prayer from Brazil celebrates and thanks God for his grace and its effects in our lives.

A prayer of thanksgiving from Brazil
Our Heavenly Father,

We praise your name and adore you with all our heart. We lift our hearts with joy because you are a great God who, regardless of our sins, loves and watches over us. With great compassion and love you have led us through the valleys and up the mountains to the right paths. Help us to overcome our weakness and lack of faith.

Lord,
It is your grace that makes us what we are. We are not worthy to stand before you, but at Calvary you bought us with a price which we cannot measure nor understand. You have given us a new name and a new life. We praise you and offer ourselves to you.

Lord,
Help us to remember we are strong only in you. We ask that the Holy Spirit will control our lives. It is you Lord Jesus who holds onto us in every circumstance. Renew our faith in you, expect us to “bear fruit” and make us willing to share with people around us, the needy, the lost, those who need a word of hope.

May all see Jesus in us.

For it is in Jesus’ holy name we pray.

Amen.

*Prayer from Hallowed be Your Name: A collection of prayers from around the world, Dr. Tony Cupit, Editor.

Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Come, let us sing to the Lord; let us shout for joy to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving and raise a loud shout to him with psalms. — Psalm 95.1-2

– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Prayers from The Divine Hours available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Genesis 30 (Listen – 6:10) 
Mark 1 (Listen – 5:05)

Join Our New Facebook Group:
This weekend, in our new Facebook group for email subscribers, we will continue a series of short live videos discussing some simple, practical tools of spiritual practice using modern technology. Join the group to discuss them with us.

Follow this link to find the group. When you request to join, you will be prompted to answer questions about the email that you have used to subscribe to The Park Forum. Once we check that you are a subscriber, we will approve you to join the group.

Read more about Free to Become Like Children :: Worldwide Prayer
Spirit of God, we thank you
That you have brought the riches of salvation
Into the poverty of our human experience.

Read more about Emptiness Filled by Love :: Worldwide Prayer
Compassionate God, we are sinners in need of forgiveness. The emptiness within us can only be filled by your love.


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