The argument of cultural relativity has been making its rounds within Adventism. It is used as an excuse for many actions and the erosion of foundational truths.
Just a few examples: The wedding ring, contemporary music, immodest apparel, and the ordination of women for various positions within the church.
Though the Bible shows repeatedly that whenever there was a reformation there was a coinciding removal of jewelry we now have many who add this and other items of jewelry to their wardrobe, claiming it is culturally acceptable here and abroad.
We are supposed to be preparing for the heavenly Canaan yet we see more worldliness entering into the church and less primitive godliness. We are subjected to bedlams of noise at many SDA churches with their electric guitars, drums, and base players with the repetitious lyrics being palmed off as gospel music because those in leadership of these churches and conferences and unions feel that they have to be “relevant” in regards to what they perceive as appealing to the masses (hymns were good for Grandma and Grandpa but not for our “modern” church goers). Do the ones in charge forget that God is not impressed by their vain repetitions and bedlam of noise?
We get treated to attire that is immodest because that is what is popular on the clothing racks at the stores and in the magazines; Clothing that would not even be tolerated in a court of law (I know, for I recently was summoned for jury duty and at the door of the building there was a sign stating what type of clothing was acceptable).
We have the Spirit of Prophecy to refer to for those elected to leadership positions and what the qualifications for certain positions within the church organization are, yet we have women ordained as elders, women presidents of conferences, women being ordained as ministers because it is culturally and politically-correct to do so and it is flaunted in our church periodicals on a fairly regular basis. We also have LGBTQ making inroads into the church all in the name of cultural relativity.
Please note that in some cultures it is acceptable for polygamy, incest, infanticide, genocide, extortion, bribery, disfigurement of wives, and much more to be practiced but does cultural practices and/or beliefs make it all right with God? To understand what culture we are to live in we must go back to the call of Abraham. “And if you be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29). A close look at Abraham will show several aspects of the culture we are to embrace. We also need to go back to the post-Flood and Garden of Eden scene. Then we need to look forward to the Earth made new.
Abram was a man of one wife (until he made the mistake of Hagar at Sarai’s insistence and was again the man of one wife after he sent Hagar away) so this is a heterosexual and monogamous marriage. He also had flocks & herds so his life involved an agricultural aspect. He ate according to God’s standards and was the leader of his household instructing them to worship the God of Heaven so he knew and followed a healthy lifestyle, was the patriarch of his family, and worshiped his Creator. He also was a family man.
Noah too was a family man who worshipped the Creator, had only one wife, was the leader in his home, worked in agriculture (and ship building at God’s direction) and lived a healthy lifestyle (until he decided that wine was desirable--to his hurt).
Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden were pursuing agricultural interests, monogamous and heterosexual in their relationship, worshipped their Creator, loved to eat healthy food (though as we all know they made a bad choice with the fruit on the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil). Adam was first formed then Eve (I Timothy 2:13) showing patriarchal leadership, and instructed to "Go and be fruitful and start a family."
So we have at least 7 cultural applications for humanity that span hundreds and hundreds of years namely; 1. Heterosexuality, 2. Monogamy, 3. Family, 4. Agricultural employment, 5. Healthy lifestyle as defined by God’s standards, including not only what one consumes as food, but also cleanliness, modesty, simplicity in dress and appearance, 6. Patriarchal leadership, and 7. Creator worship.
Modern man has decided that the definition of a relationship is whatever one wishes it to be including LGBTQ. Modern man determines that divorce is an option for any reason, that the definition of family is anyone who loves someone else and lives together. That the type of employment doesn’t matter as long as you get paid, lifestyle choices are open to whatever feels good. Women’s lib with its agenda is the only definition of equality, and there are many ways to heaven through any and all of the religions of the world, though the deities worshiped are as numerous as the religions they represent.
The question now needs to be asked: What will we be doing in the new earth?
Our relationships may or may not include marriage but there will be no abomination practiced there! Families will be reunited and we will all be brothers and sisters in Christ. We will be planting vineyards and performing other agricultural activities, we will return to our original diet, Christ will lead us, and we will worship the Godhead and rejoice in Their grace and mercy.
So, in summary:
There is a way that seems right unto a man but the end is the way of death when it comes to using the modern culture in which we live to define us, our actions, and our beliefs. Any aspect of culture must first be filtered through the Bible standard, and if it passes the test then it can be safely embraced.
If not, then it must be discarded.