How quickly we can offend without even realizing it, in South Africa we have 11 official languages that’s right 11, of which sadly I can only speak 2 fluently and 1 I can help my self with to a point. So strictly speaking there are 11 official different cultures to contend with.
I think most of us don’t even make the time to find out how the other cultures work and I am not talking about things that are biblically not right I am talking about everyday things from dress code to the way we bring up our children.
Let just take the difference in my up bringing (English) to my husbands (Afrikaans) and this is just what I have been exposed to so this is no hard and fast rule about it but judging from the environment I have been exposed to this is more or less correct: I will sketch a scenario: we where both about 16 there was a movie showing that we both wanted to see my home:
DAD – no you can’t go ME- why not dad? DAD – I feel that at your age it is not appropriate there is too much violence sex etc maybe in a year or two okay.
My hubby’s home: DAD – No SON: why not dad? DAD- Slap to son I said so finished.
We where always given a chance to ask why and where given answers to why my parents felt we could not go.
My husband was not ever allowed to ask why or even question something.
When we got married we both decided together that we would allow the children to ask why when we said no, we would still give boundaries and our answer would still have final authority. In many respects it’s easier for me to relate to Father God on a loving Father Daughter relationship then it was at first for Fred, (he does have a wonderful relationship with Father God)
So I last night was quite in awe of a situation that unfolded in our lives Rene my friend and I have been over enthusiastic about helping someone that is getting married soon with out realizing that even though we go to the same church and that we love the Lord with all our might that culture differences and the way we do things could be offensive to other people, you kind of forget that even though you are both Christians there are still differences in how different cultural groups do something. When we get married its our family and closes friends, but in this case it’s the whole community where you grew up comes to the wedding and there is food to feed a whole nation, and that if you don’t invite everyone you will be bringing shame and dishonor to your family name…. I grew up in the city imagine inviting all the people to your wedding ….. Scary very scary. We where so over enthusiastic (I love weddings and the whole romance of the time… I think I would make a great wedding party crasher just so I could be around all the beauty of the day) that the bride did not have the heart to tell us that we would cause offense if we did things the way we saw it as right. I am so glad that is sorted we would never want people to turn away from the gospel just because of our own ignorance…. Which brings me to something our church does a lot of outreaches in to Africa more central and west Africa… and I have heard younger woman complain about wearing dresses and not having your arms upper arms exposed….rather that then a message of offence been send out… and yes I know that the gospel can be offensive to those that don’t have a revelation of the wonderful grace we find in Jesus Christ…. So my challenge this week is to learn something about at least 2 of the 8 cultures I know very little or nothing about.