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What do Christians think when it comes to personal expression and individuality?

Discussion in 'Christian Philosophy & Ethics' started by BlackSabbath, Jan 13, 2018 at 7:14 AM.

  1. BlackSabbath

    BlackSabbath Member

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    Hi,

    So one thing that I've been curious about is self expression, art, culture and individuality, what do Christians think of this? The only thing that has ever really irked me about church is that generally I feel like it can either be too controlling or repressive or not very open to different ways of seeing things and different kinds of self expression or individuality.

    Even when it's just culture and generally removed from anything else, is it really wrong? I just feel like it's human nature to a degree and I question which merits or standards then certain styles of dress or some such thing are more puritan, or godly? I understand that in a sense it's to stoo conflict between people, because for fear some people might get jealous or some such thing. I guess I think either way, there wil always be decietful and manipulative individuals amongst us, and you cannot at least keep someone from rebelling mentally on the inside first at last with thought. So what I say by that is you can't exactly force peace on everyone, if exactly it makes out to that all of the time. You can force peoppe to accept just about anything and call ot peace but it does not always make it so.

    It all comes down to our authentic selves deep down; but of course likewise we all struggle between two oppposing sides of light and dark.
     
  2. Shoetoyou

    Shoetoyou Forgiven Sinner Supporter

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    I would say that from my understanding of Christianity, our faith is never removed from everything else. We are to live our faith on a daily basis, not just attend worship services, so that our faith should permeate every aspect of our being.

    That does not preclude personal expression and individuality, but we should endeavor to glorify God with our whole beings, being a mirror to reflect Him within us.

    (That doesn’t mean that churches and clergy are always right when telling us how to dress and act, but all of what we do should be undertaken with love for God and neighbor, with due consideration for what the Scriptures say, and what our clergy/more experienced laity advise.)

    (Of course, I am so far from this ideal that I may understand it wrongly...)
     
  3. SkyWriting

    SkyWriting The Librarian Supporter

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    I have a flashlight. Can I use it to oppose your darklight or
    does a darklight not actually exist.
    If it was a sin-light it could distort the beam of my flashlight
    but without my flashlight to project a beam, a sin-light would
    have no effect of it own, at all.
     
  4. seeking.IAM

    seeking.IAM Episcopalian Supporter

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    I think it depends upon the branch of Christianity with which you identify. I have been part of churches that discouraged individuality while encouraging group-think. For example, one church placed a very high value on stay-at-home moms and women not working. My wife, who practices a profession while being a mother, was made to feel unwelcome and looked down upon for working. All women's activities were during the day so she could not participate. It became so discouraging for her she decided to be done with church entirely, much to my dismay. My bias is that the more conservative and fundamentalist a church is, the less diversion from the norm is accepted. That may not be fair, but it's how I feel about it.

    In contrast I now attend a church whose foundation is scripture, tradition, and reason. The "reason" part of that three-legged stool allows for people reasoning things differently. We are a "big tent" church gathering religious and political conservatives and liberals bound together by common worship, not dogma. Individuality is both expected and accepted here. So, this question about what Christians think of individual expression reminds me of my friend who is fond of saying "What you see depends on where you sit."
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018 at 4:51 PM
  5. Monna

    Monna Well-Known Member

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    Don't use your own flashlight. There is a more reliable source of light and truth.

    Psalm 119:105
    Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

    1 John 1:5
    This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

    And you could say that Jesus is the Sun of God.
     
  6. BlackSabbath

    BlackSabbath Member

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    That is why I almost wonder if religion is for me but I am still so undecided I guess.
    I realize that religion itself in general is just kind of extreme in nature and expects one to follow very specific guidelines and I don't know if I need that personally. I mean I guess a lot of people feel more comfortable or at ease with lots of structure, tradition, and authority figures to guide or give you direction.

    I mostly believe in the Bible, but I have my own way of looking at it and don't take it literally.

    I am really kind of unsure or decided upon things like collectivism, and conformity or personal rights. I really am uncomfortable and dislike it when groups of people try to exert too much control over me. When it comes too far or is extreme it starts to make me very uncomfortable and I don't like it. When others are trying to control everything in your life, which often times the group does, It makes me angry resentful and I desire to mly be as much as an individual as possible. but in some regards I suppose it is "selfish" But my motives and desires are not motivated by such, it is purely I desire some degree of personal autonomy. The group as well is prone to just as many infallible, inconsiderate behaviours. So why is it always a case of the individual versus the group and placing one over the other so easily? Often times, groups make themselves open to manipulation and being mislead and just taking away my ability to do just that makes it even worse. In collectivist societies, they simply take away the self, because to them it is the root of all problems, but is it? We are still who we are, I think everyone has a self, different personalities and those name internal motivations or desires do not simply cease from existing.

    I can only ever preach love, and that is why it hurts me so much, I want only the best for world, but I cannot help feeling I have been awoken in a truly broken amd dysfunctional wrld full of heartache, war, famine and ruin.

    I don't think, motivation, or being industrious, self expression are those themselves "evil" are guises by Satan? When I think of Adam and Eve, I imagjne them being more likened in reality probably to indegenious culture. It is just human nature to an extent, the real problem that exists is what happened between Cain and Abel. I mean is being blank slates that are waiting to ne told and have your existence entirely ecided upon by those with ppwer or authority really the plan for humanity?
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018 at 4:18 PM
  7. Sketcher

    Sketcher Born Imperishable

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    Generally speaking, my attitude is "meh". My workplace is one of the few that doesn't have a dress code to speak of except "Don't be that guy that forces us to make a policy." There are people with lots of tattoos and piercings, and people without them.

    Personally, I think it takes too much time and energy to take up the styles of punks or goths or the like. I honestly wonder if either of those styles were normal what those people would dress like. Perhaps like me. Either way, I don't think that people who intentionally deviate from normal styles of fashion should be surprised at getting attention, even negative attention. This isn't to say that it is right to hassle people. It's not.
     
  8. BlackSabbath

    BlackSabbath Member

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    It's not for attention though most often I don't think. It can entail and cause that reaction, but I think often it's just selfish expression.
     
  9. Sketcher

    Sketcher Born Imperishable

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    Whether or not it is for attention will depend on the individual. But something that everybody should get is that how you look creates an impression. If you're going out of your way to look different, don't be surprised if some people don't like that or make assumptions about you.
     
  10. mathinspiration

    mathinspiration Member

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    Many great artists,actors, and musicians are Christians so it depends on your talent or skill or money pockets.
     
  11. SkyWriting

    SkyWriting The Librarian Supporter

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    The flashlight story was just for illumination.
     
  12. Monna

    Monna Well-Known Member

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    Good word play! That's what flashlights are for.
    Psalm 119:105 also uses a lamp for "illumination;" as a simile.
     
  13. Chesterton

    Chesterton Whats So Funny bout Peace Love and Understanding

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    I think it's to God's glory that the He creates us all as unique individuals with unique personalities. That's a great thing. However I have a problem with "self-expression". There's enough of that, and it's almost always boring as can be. I think people should use art to express something higher and better than their "selves".
     
  14. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

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    Not necessarily. Christianity is about following Jesus, not being Puritan or any other traditional Christian cultures. But churches have varying degrees of uniformity. Within the same denomination and theological perspective you can find congregations made up of people who are all alike, and more varied congregations. As a single guy, I look for a church with a more varied membership. I once visited one with just young families. Fine
    people who were probably fine Christians, but not the place for me.

    We're not big on intervening in members' lives except in counseling.
     
  15. BlackSabbath

    BlackSabbath Member

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    Ha ha ha, I don't think the self is an illusion, it benefits at least creativity.

    I read a book about economics because unfortunately being flung into this capitalist system, once must adapt and conform to it. They said that creativity was one of the highest sought after abilities now. It's just that when creativity is allowed to flourish, one is allowed to experiment and try different ways of looking or at things, and the possibility to find novel and inventive ways of looking at things that keep other people engaged or interested.

    I think many times, it's perhaps an attempt to transcend the self and cross many multi-dimensional boundaries in human communication and understanding.
    I just think the the self is complicated and I don't they can really define or say what it is, doing so is the antithesis of the concept of our human rights I believe.
     
  16. Monna

    Monna Well-Known Member

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    A thought struck me reading the last couple of comments....
    Did Jesus express himself?
    He claimed he came to show us the Father, that he did nothing on his own, but only what the Father showed him, or told him to.
    How does self-expression fit together with the instruction to "deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him?" If we are to become like him, we will reflect him in our lives - not ourselves. Or?
    At the same time people (preachers, Christian writers) tell us that it is only when we let God take over our lives ("when it is Jesus, not I who lives in me") that we become truly ourselves. ???
     
  17. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

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    It's impossible to speak and act without making decisions that result in a certain personal style. It's also impossible to speak and act without expressing yourself.

    So it's hard to see how one could avoid being creative and self-expressive. The opposition usually assumes that there's a certain specific Christian style, which of course is really the traditional style of a particular Christian community. I don't see any Biblical reason to accept such a thing. Paul at times advocated matching the style of his listeners, 1 Cor 9:20. Jesus, of course, taught using the style of 1st Cent Jewish rabbis.

    Someone trying to be Christian in the 21st Cent US should use approaches appropriate to that culture, which often expect and respond to creativity and honest self-expression.
     
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