I’m not quite over the hill yet, but in a lot of ways I’m already old-fashioned. I like old music and old manners and old standards for grammar, and I still don’t get the new trend of using emoji skulls in the place of laughing faces. More seriously, I don’t think that the modern trend of commitment-free relationships has been good for children. Or relationships.
On the other hand, there are some old fashions that I don’t like. I don’t like wearing neckties—who decided that tying a rope around your own neck was a good idea? I also don’t like old systems of religious rules that measure love for God by obedience to commands he never gave. And I don’t like being measured by my social connections or income level instead of the content of my character—an age-old fashion that is still circulating today. So I guess I’m not completely old-fashioned.
Some of the new fashions are good, if you ask me. I’m a fan of beards, and putting less weird chemicals in food, and less plastic in the ocean. So what am I? Old-fashioned, or new? I don’t know, and honestly, I don’t care, because I don’t think the age of the fashions was ever the important thing about them anyway.
Some old fashions are terrible.
Some are wonderful.
Some new fashions are wonderful.
Some are terrible.
A lot of times they are both wonderful and terrible at the same time. For example, old fashions taught people to be polite, which is good, but at times politeness was valued over the truth itself, or people were taught that it was ok to insult each other as long as they wrapped those insults in flowery polite language. New fashions encourage people to be genuine and direct, which is good, but often feelings are valued more than the truth, and we’ve built systems that reward people for being direct in the way they destroy others with verbal takedowns. Fashions have changed. Human hearts have remained the same.
Just because a fashion was widely accepted in the past doesn’t mean it’s worth accepting now. Just because it is widely accepted now doesn’t mean it’s worth holding on to for the future. We must not accept fashions merely because they are new, or because they are not. Everything new is not progress. Everything old is not the wisdom of the ages. Some fashions really are destructive, others are genuinely helpful to human flourishing, but we won’t be able to tell which is which just by looking at their age. We need a better standard to evaluate our fashions by.
Thankfully, we have one. As Psalm 119:98-104 says,
Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies,
For they are ever mine.
I have more insight than all my teachers,
For Your testimonies are my meditation.
I understand more than those who are old,
Because I have complied with Your precepts.
I have restrained my feet from every evil way,
So that I may keep Your word.
I have not turned aside from Your judgments,
For You Yourself have taught me.
How sweet are Your words to my taste!
Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
From Your precepts I get understanding;
Therefore I hate every false way.
Fashions come and go. God’s truth endures.