Interaction of Religion, Culture, and the Society





Interaction of Religion, Culture, and the Society


Religion is not only a societal structure that defines the ideal role of human beings in the universe with respect to their spirituality but it also influences the cultural principles accepted by a certain portion of the community. Through these spiritual frameworks, adherents of various religious convictions use the predetermined moral standards to guide their proceedings in political, cultural, and social facets. Consequently, affiliates of these associations uphold a definite set of behaviors that differentiates them from other members of the community. Nonetheless, in the modern world, the cultural transformations of the society have affected the religious component. Several denominations have conceded on certain issues including elements of sexuality, and their involvement in political opinions (Armstrong 12). This indicates the connection between the society, culture, and religion.

Historical Elements of Christianity

Christianity is a religion founded on the practices and teachings of Jesus Christ as well as the beliefs stipulated in various Hebrew Scriptures (Latourette 55). The general framework of Christianity has numerous similarities with Judaism. The principles promoted by this religion are in accordance with the events and ideologies regarding the existence, philosophies, death, and renaissance of Jesus Christ. These philosophies combine the documentations of the old and new testaments (Chadwick 91). Additionally, the adherents of this religion believe that Jesus Christ is a sacred and immortal life form sent by God to save humanity from the earthly evils perpetrated by Satan. Nonetheless, there are certain dissimilarities in the practices promoted by some denominations within this broad religion. For instance, the followers of the Roman Catholic Church perceive the Virgin Mary as a major facilitator of salvation while Protestants only view her as a unifier of God and humanity (Latourette 59).

Historical Elements of Islam

Similar to the values of Christianity, Muslims believe in a supreme being that controls the entire humanity in addition to guiding human beings away from the manipulations of the earthly forces. This monotheistic spiritual association began through the crusades of Prophet Muhammad (Esposito 79). This spiritual leader urged the general population to surrender their lives to Allah in order to conduct an existence free of earthly worries and consequences of their immoral deeds.  Prophet Muhammad compiled various components revealed to him by Allah. The Quran, a holy scripture of Islam, governs the social and cultural lives of Muslims. Nonetheless, the Sunni and Shi’a have dissimilarities in their beliefs regarding the main principles of the Islamic religion (Esposito 82). Moreover, the religious and social lives of Muslims are similar with both facets concurring with the commandments stipulated in the Quran. Additionally, some rituals such as Hajj and Zakat are major events in the Islamic calendar with Prophet Muhammad being a key advocate of offering assistance to the less privileged in the society (O’Connor 111).

Theoretical Frameworks of Religion

Despite the differences between Christianity and Islam, various theoretical frameworks connect both religions. To start with, exported ethnocentrism attempts to define the superiority exemplified by major religions. According to this speculative structure, the adherents of each association perceive their religious principles as the ideal way of existence (Olson 44). For instance, Muslims view Christian women as provocatively dressed for not veiling their heads and wearing long gowns. Conversely, Christians perceive Islamic principles as faulty by asserting that Prophet Muhammad did not have a direct connection with God (Arnold 69). Through these ideologies, the adherents of each religion attempt to convert members of the opposing association. They persuade individuals to abandon their religious values as a way of improving their spirituality and conducting an ideal existence.

            Cultural relativism is also a crucial theoretical framework that relates to the cultural segment of Islam and Christianity. This structure justifies cultural principles unique to a certain community. This framework does not include cultural comparisons. For example, the ideology of marriage is different between the two religious categories. According to Islamic beliefs, parents are responsible for identifying the right suitor for their daughters. Additionally, the girl under consideration has to approve of her parents’ decision. In contrast, Christians encourage their adherents to marry individuals based on their emotional connection. Parents usually accept the partner chosen by their children because of the ideology that love is the main foundation in a marriage.

Cultural diffusion is also a theoretical framework that indicates the interaction between religion, culture, and the society. This hypothesis involves the extension of a cultural component into a larger portion of the societal aspect.  For instance, in the ancient periods, the Islam religion discouraged women from actively participating in political affairs (Olson 88). However, the impact of modernity has transformed this situation with a substantial number of Islamic women attaining significant positions in the political, commercial, or social elements of the community. Furthermore, various denominations within Christianity have adopted polygamy in the society. This is because of the   transformations in the setting of a typical family unit. Since religion and the society have a concrete connection, the change in one entity causes the alteration of major proceedings in the other social association.  

The element of global diffusion has also affected the religious operations in Christianity and Islam. This is because of the intertwinement between various social groupings in the community and the impact of various forces on the culture of a society. For instance, in the modern world, the element of sexuality has transformed certain components in the religious, social, and cultural settings of the global community. A large number of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and members of the transgender category have publicized their sexual orientations. This has altered the moral standards stipulated by religious convictions and the entire society. For instance, some Protestants in such countries as the United States and other states in the European region have modified their religious principles in order to accommodate such individuals.

Women and Religion

For a long time, various religions have depicted women as people who ought to follow the ideologies presented by their male counterparts without raising any concerns. An analysis of the Islamic and Christianity principles indicates a male-dominated setting in this social aspect. To start with, Christianity puts emphasis on the need for women to be submissive to their husbands. Adherents of this religious category have used this term to justify the oppression of women in the society. Christianity tends to discourage women from holding crucial positions in various professional fields. This is because the community views such females as irresponsible in the family setting. The proceedings in the Old Testament are the origin of this anti-feminist ideology (ulé 55). In the ancient periods, women could not access the front segments of the church. Additionally, they could not engage in important conversations in the family unit or social gatherings.

Furthermore, as part of the history of Christianity, the society viewed women as unclean beings during their monthly biological cycle or after conceiving. These principles have led to the male chauvinism experienced in various denominations within this religious conviction. For instance, in the modern Roman Catholic Church, priests comprise of men. This is evident in the social order of this denomination. The main administration of the Roman Catholic Church only considers priests for the position of the pope with nuns supporting the church at the community level. These male religious leaders are responsible for conducting major ceremonies and rituals within the church calendar. In contrast, women who attain religious education regarding priesthood only assist in managing social facilities such as schools and sanatoriums.  

This state of affairs is similar in the Islamic religion. The principles of this religious conviction have been suppressing women with the opinions of these females having minimal relevance in the community. For instance, in the mosques, females cannot visit certain regions considered by Muslims as holy grounds. Additionally, women are not part of crucial ceremonies in the community including the negotiations of bride price. These religious principles have affected the social and cultural components of the community. Islamic communities hardly support women who seek crucial political posts in the society. Since the religious and cultural facets have a strong connection, a large percentage of women from the Islamic religion focus on attending to various household chores (ulé 71).

Nonetheless, in the recent past, this societal setting has commenced its transformations. A large percentage of females have been campaigning for major posts in professional fields such as politics and headship of religious convictions. For instance, several protestant churches in various geological zones of the world govern the operations of the churches as the main priests of these structures. These vocal individuals have facilitated the transformation of religion with reference to the social structure and cultural values. These modifications illustrate the interaction between culture, religion, and the society. These elements are influential forces in the community and affect the way of life of a societal group. However, male chauvinism is still evident in the practices and beliefs of major religions such as Christianity and Islam.  

Religion and Economy

These religious institutions have also shaped the economy at the regional, national, and international levels. Although the values of these components are contradictory, religious institutions in the modern world have been active participants of the economy through lucrative business activities. Over the years, major religious convictions such as Christianity and Islam have worked closely with other stakeholders of the national economy including the government. This is through the numerous commercial activities facilitated by these denominations. Several theoretical approaches are relevant in evaluating the relationship between religion and the economy.  For instance, the secularization concept asserts that the economy of a country affects independent institutions in the society depending on the level of growth in the regional and national financial systems (Spilka and Daniel 112). This concept is more apparent in the developing countries since their commercial activities are still in the stabilization process.

The main ideology of this speculative concept is the role of the centralized government in elevating the living standards of its citizens by offering support to its main markets. According to the secularization supposition, the improvement of a national financial system leads to the decline of religiosity in a community. People tend to attend religious institutions less often while increasing their participation in commercial activities (Clarke 166). For example, in the United States, some analysts relate the decrease in church attendance of its inhabitants to the stable nature of the economy. This is because people tend to adopt lucrative activities at the expense of their spirituality.

The religion market theory is also an appropriate supposition that attempts to analyze the relationship between the economy and religion. This hypothesis asserts that the government influences the deeds and beliefs of religious institutions. The regulation of the regional, national, and international markets facilitates the development of certain denominations while disadvantaging other religious convictions (Susin and Erik 45). For instance, the centralized government in a region predominantly served by the Roman Catholic Church may offer funds for the physical expansion of the worship center in order to acquire political support from the adherents. This monopoly and institutional interactions are common in regimes that support communism. This unique relationship may affect the moral values promoted by the religious institution. This is because the leaders of these churches tend to promote ethical principles that are in accordance with the ideologies of the government.  

Developments in Religion

Over the years, the moral values and proceedings of various religious institutions have transformed based on other influential factor in the community. For instance, the element of sexuality is no longer a taboo topic of discussion in major religions such as Islam and Christianity. As opposed to the ancient periods when individuals with unique sexual orientations had to live a hypocritical existence, some religious convictions have shown their support to such individuals. This has altered the beliefs of most denominations especially those adhering to the principles of Christianity. Nonetheless, some religions are still rebellious of this social transformation. For instance, Muslims strongly opposed same-sex marriages and sexual relationships between members of the same gender. These differences in principles and beliefs have resulted in conflicts. For example, the Roman Catholic Church has condemned the actions of certain protestant churches that support same-sex marriages or sexual relationships (Susin and Erik 91)

Additionally, some adherents of the Islamic religion have lowered their religious principles regarding the involvement of parents and other elderly individuals in the identification of a suitable marriage partner for their children. Due to the interactions between culture, religion, and the society, modernization has affected the social norms as well as religious values upheld in various groups in the community (Atherton, Elaine and Ian 134). Most Muslims in the modern world choose their marriage partners although parents are still involved in the entire process. Moreover, most religious institutions are active participants of political affairs at a regional, national, and global level. Unlike the ancient periods, religious institutions publicly state their opinions regarding certain political issues. In conclusion, religion is not only a societal institution that promotes spirituality of an individual but it is also an influential force in the cultural, economic, political, and social aspects of a community. Modernization has also affected certain moral values promoted by these institutions. Owing to the relationship between the society and religion, other elements of the community influence the religiosity of the public as well as the values emphasized by their religious leaders. Nonetheless, these differences in opinions have resulted in conflicts between certain religions.
Works Cited                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

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Chadwick, Owen. A History of Christianity. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 2005. Print.

Clarke, Peter B. The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of Religion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. Print.

Esposito, John L. The Oxford History of Islam. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. Print.

Latourette, Kenneth S. A History of Christianity. New York: HarperOne, 2000. Print.

O’Connor, Frances. History of Islam. New York: Rosen Pub, 2009. Print.

Olson, Carl. Theory and Method in the Study of Religion: A Selection of Critical Readings. Australia: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2003. Print.

Spilka, Bernard, and Daniel N. McIntosh. The Psychology of Religion: Theoretical Approaches. Boulder, Colo: Westview Press, 1997. Print.

Susin, Luiz C, and Erik Borgman. The Economy and Religion. London: SCM Press, 2011. Print.

ulé, Allyson. Gender and the Language of Religion. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. Print.

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