Define Worldliness

From my 2012 Journal. When I was growing up, the adults in my life defined worldly as doing anything that looked like you might fit into or embrace the culture around you:

  • Wearing certain clothing (the list might include too short, too long, too revealing, too flashy, pants vs skirts)
  • Going to a bar / drinking alcohol / smoking / drugs
  • Facial hair on men / short hair on women
  • Going to the movies (or the pool hall or the bowling alley)
  • Wearing too much makeup (especially red lipstick) or jewelry
  • And, of course, dancing!

So I was surprised when I read that the Apostle Paul defined worldliness not with outward-appearance restrictors but as “jealousy and quarreling among yourselves.”

You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? (I Corinthians 3:3)

Whom should I believe . . . ? Perhaps those adults in my life were more worldly than they cared to admit!

Scott and I, young and in love, and apparently not caring about outward appearance!

7 thoughts on “Define Worldliness

  1. I think there are two definitions of worldly. One is being more interested in the world’s material values rather than spiritual values and the other is being sophisticated or experienced in different ideas and cultures around the world.

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  2. Oh my-Karen… Great picture –
    also, very true words-how different scripture can look when we see the simple wording -in the context – not informed by our cultural biases.

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  3. You completely look like your girls there!
    Worldly was also playing cards, listening to “modern” music, laughing too loud or too often, not wearing “good” clothes to church (that also got the label slovenly) and a host of other things, including wearing store-bought clothes. Nice to know that all those Victorian/Edwardian values we got taught were false. Hopefully, I am not so worldly as per Paul

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  4. Oh, yes, I forgot about the playing cards. Music was not such an issue since we only had records (of Mom’s choosing). Of course, later in high school, the dorm parents tried to control that too.

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    • One of my dorm parents set up a sound system in the dorms he ran and played Tijuana Brass (to wake up) and some sort of classical/elevator music to put us to sleep. Our fifth grade teacher believed music helped kids learn, so she brought a bunch of fun light pop songs for us to listen to. Our dorm parents never tried to tell us what we could listen to, and kids that went on furlough brought back the latest rock or pop music. So I heard the Beatles, Abba, Bay City Rollers, Hall and Oats, the Eagles, Chicago, (although Santana and Kiss were considered too outre for good MKs), and a bunch of British artists. It was Mum and Dad who tried to control our musical tastes when we came to the States (Dad was a country fan, and that was as far as Mum would allow; it was all hymns with her). But they gave us radios and lost that battle.

      Mum allowed us to play Old Maid and Dutch Blitz, but “real” playing cards were verboten. Good Christians didn’t use “gamblers” cards. We didn’t drink, smoke, swear, and unmarried girls could only wear pink lip gloss and clear nail varnish. I bought my own red nail varnish and shocked my mother. She tried to take it away, but I hid it and she couldn’t find it! Yeah, I know, I was so rebellious. Permed hair would have been an issue, but my aunts got their hair permed, so that was permissible. Jealousy, bickering, and judging, that was not only allowed, but encouraged, especially if someone didn’t believe like we did.

      This is a fascinating topic. It’s always about our hearts, and not about the outer person. Do you think that also applies to the passage where women are not to wear hair adornments, etc.?

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