No… I did not say Christians, please don’t be romantic. I said please don’t romanticize. That is,
Do not say, “Why is it that the former days were better than these?”
For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this. Ecclesiastes 7:10*
I am just going to say it: there is too much romanticizing of either time periods or cultures (or both!) by many Christians–and by too much, I mean to say that any is too much. In case you are wondering, I am not the only one to notice.** Beyond the ridiculousness of “Amish Romance” novels and other ways Christians romanticize cultures, is the romanticizing of time periods. For whatever reason, there are Christians who romanticize the 40s or 50s (15, 16,17,18, or 1940s or 1950s Take your pick.), Elizabethan or Georgian or Victorian or Edwardian England. If it happened between Shakespeare and Downton Abbey, “It must have been magical,” in the eyes of some. For others, it involves a medieval sword and shield or the thought that all men of past periods were noble and respectable.
What is wrong with this? Why is it wrong to “hearken back” to when things were simpler and outwardly more “noble?” Why is it wrong to fantasize that you were born in/live in medieval or Victorian or Edwardian Eras? (For whatever reason, these seem to be the two of which I see most Christian pining.) What is wrong with longing for a bonnet and suspended trousers?
Well, there are several reasons Christians should not romanticize time periods or particular cultures:
It is a fundamental misunderstanding of sin/sinfulness. The times have never been less sinful or more sinful. Men and women are sinners and every generation is full of sin. Some generations’ sins are more widely known thanks to 24 hour news stations and the internet, but wickedness and sin have been in every generation since the fall. To long for other days and times when things were “simpler,” is either naivete or a genuine disbelief in original sin.
It is a grumbling at providence. “I was born in the wrong time period,” is something that moody teenagers say when they want to appear to have a deeper taste in music/movies/literature than they actually do. Surely, Christians recognize that God’s sovereign decree is perfect and that they have been born at precisely the right time of God’s own choosing. (See Psalm 139:16, Isaiah 46:10, Ecclesiastes 3:1, etc.) Not to mention that our time is better in many, many ways; I for one, like our hygiene practices, air conditioning, medical practices, etc. more than any other time period or cultures’.
You would not love God more or serve Him any better than you do right now. Sadly, this is where it lands for most who romanticize other time periods and cultures. Many Christians that I know, who romanticize different time periods, often do so because they think that all that we have in our day and time is a distraction to their service to God, and that they “could serve Him so much better in a simpler time, without all these distractions.” (“These distractions” being often TVs, smart phones, etc.) Here’s a little reality check: if you do not love or serve Him well now, in His sovereign placement of you in this time and in your culture, you would not love or serve Him well in any other time period or culture. Self-control has to be exercised in every day and age, it is only the distractions that vary, not the temptations.
All of these things being said, it is not wrong to have an appreciation for other cultures or time periods. Just don’t romanticize them as if there was somehow less sin or as if you would be better suited to certain times or cultures. The Lord has you right where He wants you. Serve Him here and now and where you are.
*Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible® (NASB), Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. http://www.Lockman.org
**Links to articles do not mean endorsement of said articles; I am simply pointing out that such romanticizing has not gone unnoticed. When it is being satirized (by the Babylon Bee), it has been noticed.