James 4:4:  "… know ye not that the friendship of the world (culture) is enmity with God (gospel)?  Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."   This shows that there is a difference between the standards and practices of the world and God's righteous standards.  Although there are some standards of behavior that both culture and gospel uphold,  such as murder  being a hateful crime, there are many ways in which culture and gospel are not in harmony. 

First we would define gospel as the good news that Christ died for all mankind to have the opportunity to follow him now (or in the future in Christ's kingdom on earth.)  Those who follow Christ now recognize the absolute standards put forth in the gospel; these people try to live righteously and follow God's will in all things.   We would define culture as "the sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings," Random House Dictionary.  For this answer, culture means the behaviors that society considers acceptable; these standards of behavior are also called norms of behavior.

Using these definitions, we see that there are inevitable conflicts between culture and gospel. God and Jesus have given absolute standards of behavior.  These standards do not change.  James 1:17 says, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."    On the other hand, cultural norms of behavior established by men, are relative, not absolute and may change.  A given group of human beings determines what is acceptable at a particular time.  So it is easy to see that gospel and culture may clash as to what is acceptable.


 The Bible has many examples of those who kept a righteous standard while living in an evil culture.   Noah worshipped and trusted God and followed His will in building the ark even though he was surrounded by those who laughed and scoffed at him.  Daniel refused to partake of the Babylonian food which was a part of the culture in which he was a captive.  Jesus gave us comforting words and hope in our struggle with a culture that encourages us to lower our standards, to follow the crowd, so to speak.  Remembering The Lord's prayer which says "Abandon us not in temptation," can help us in our struggle to do the right thing.  Jesus prayed directly for his followers in John 17:15, and 16, "I pray not that thou should take them

[his followers] out of the world, but that thou should keep them from the evil.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."  Jesus prayed for his followers to be protected and strengthened by God as they struggled against a tide of the world (culture).   He gave his followers hope when he said, "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world," John 16:33.  What courage these words give the followers of Jesus!  We too can overcome the world.