The next edition of Webster’s Dictionary will probably include a new definition for “zoom.” For most people, life during the pandemic included Zoom meetings, Zoom classes, Zoom calls, Zoom church services, etc. Everything’s gone virtual.
The shift has been culture-wide, especially in the area of work. Earlier this month, the Institute for Family Studies released findings from a new survey of 2500 American adults. More than 50 percent of working moms and dads said that the COVID-19 pandemic had changed their preferences. They’d now prefer to work from home than at the office at least part of the time.
The pandemic has also changed other work preferences of parents. Though economic realities leave many parents without the choice of whether to work or not, the study found that working, college-educated moms, in particular, are now more likely to want to work only part-time. And the most significant percentage of both moms and dads of children under five described their ideal arrangement as sharing childcare duties with a spouse instead of hiring a nanny or using daycare.
This study was only about preferences, and preferences don’t always coincide with reality. Not every parent gets to choose whether or not to work or the job arrangement they prefer. And not every job can be done from home. However, because logistical realities so often shape our lives, whether we’re aware of it or not, we should be aware of them and how they are changing us, and we should be intentional about them.
Not everyone is aware of their worldview, though everyone has a set of assumptions about the world that informs everything they do. Likewise, not everyone is aware of how much a changing cultural landscape can shape their worldview. By understanding how modern life and outside forces, like a pandemic or new work arrangements, affect the ways we order our lives, we can better align our choices with a Christian worldview instead of being blown around by cultural winds.
In the Psalms, David implored God to “teach him to number his days.” Elsewhere, he asked that God would “search him and know him.” It is a Biblical mandate to think about why we do what we do and align with how God calls us to live.
It’s one thing to know that in principle, it’s far more complicated to practice it. Does God want us to work? Does he want us to work that job? Do we justify our work’s type, intensity, or location merely by the lifestyle we prefer, or based on other factors: what’s best for the family? What’s best for mental health? What is most conducive to church life or Christian service?
For the Christian, there are immovable Biblical principles that should mark and form the structures of our lives. These should not be moved, edited, or altered by cultural shifts. For example, the reality of marriage is a real thing, like gravity, ordained by God within the created order and reclaimed by Christ for the health and growth of His kingdom. Marriage is not made something else by changing cultural norms. In the same way, the obligations of parents to their children are fixed. Despite how they are so often treated in our cultural moment, they are image-bearers who belong to God, not ornaments to decorate our lives or pieces of clay to mold into our images.
A song by Christian singer Sara Groves called “Scientist in Japan” questions the pride humans have in the technological advances we’ve made or wished we’ve made, such as artificial heart muscles and front-load washing machines. “We set machines in motion just to set machines in motion,” she sings, but “Who’s going to stay to think about it? Everybody’s left the room… there’s no one here to talk it through.”
Christians, of all people, should be the ones to stay and think about the ways our culture is changing and how these changes influence and dictate our decisions. God’s truth is unchanging. How we live out of that truth in a changing culture must always be considered. No cultural wind should blow us around without us at least noticing. And no circumstantial change should stop us from living as God has called us.
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