Download a pdf of this series of posts HERE.
So, it’s been a while since I posted on Elmer’s Cross-Cultural Connections but we were at a CMS event the other night that has spurred me to finish the series off with one last post. And the reason for the post is this: I struggle with the wisdom of many very experienced brothers and sisters that recommends conformity to the status expectations of another culture, making adjustments where possible to give honour as you can.
Elmer writes (p 168):
Keep in mind that if you insist on imposing your cultural values [e.g., gender equality] and even your biblical values on the rest of the world in a way that others perceive as crude or harsh, you will not get a hearing for the gospel… find a way if possible, where you can uphold the cultural values [of status/respect] while bringing your own biblical values to bear on the situation in a sensitive way.
I find this a hard word. I want to do away with gender inequality, I want to break down the caste system and I want to treat the cleaner with all the respect and dignity I would give to my colleagues. Yet the word from Elmer, and from others I respect with years on the mission field, is that certain concessions need to be made when working within the structures of power and authority in other countries.
I don’t want to be ‘crude and harsh’. I want to act ‘in a sensitive way’. But I struggle to know what that will look like. This is just one of those things I don’t think I’ll figure out until I’m in a country where it matters. But it confounds me and it tears at my left-leaning, bleeding heart.