MEATY: Aren’t All Cultures Equally Valid?
As Christians, we bring the cross-cultural, life-changing message of Jesus Christ and His forgiveness for sin. Our purpose is not to propagate our own cultural standards, but to present the Gospel in a redeeming yet culturally sensitive way to all people we meet.
Aren’t ALL cultures equally valid?
Why should we try to change other people’s cultures?
The core issue of this question stems from a false application of “multiculturalism” — one that is politically correct, educationally encouraged, and sounds nice. But leaving people trapped in sin and isolated from God’s hope of salvation isn’t the “considerate” option.
As Christians, we bring the cross-cultural, life-changing message of Jesus Christ and His forgiveness for sin. Our purpose is not to propagate our own cultural standards, but to present the Gospel in a redeeming yet culturally sensitive way to all people we meet. Eliminating the beautiful uniqueness of international culture is not the purpose of missions; at times, however, sinful elements of a particular culture may need to change.
I will never forget an interview I had with an outstanding Christian teenager who attended a public high school. This young man led a lunchtime “Bible club” and worship time that grew to reach 250 of his fellow classmates. He was writing a school research paper on Christian missionary work and, specifically, he was trying to support his thesis that “modern missionaries do not attempt to ‘change’ foreign cultures.”
I understood this young man’s heart. He was trying to explain how today’s Christian missionaries are different — more culturally appreciative and sensitive — than some of the old-time colonial missionaries (who attempted to expand all aspects of Western civilization throughout the world). But I still disagreed with his conclusion.
I asked this young man a pointed question. “But don’t you try to ‘change the culture’ of the people you are trying to reach? Just look at the typical ‘culture’ of the teens in your high school before they come to Jesus Christ! Look at the way they dress! Listen to their music, their foul language, and the way they address their teachers! What about the DVD’s they watch and the movies they sneak into? What about typical teenagers involved in premarital impurity, or the girls who’ve had abortions? Aren’t all of these a part of teen ‘culture’?”
I went on to explain to him, “Culture is life!! When you share Christ in your high school, of course you don’t want your friends to stop being teenagers — that’s who they are! But you do want Jesus Christ to totally transform the way they live and the way they make their decisions!”
Around the world, societies that have developed isolated from God’s laws and the gospel are filled with sinful cultural elements:
- tribal hatred, ancestral worship, and idolatry
- immoral sex, adultery, and prostitution
- drug addiction, drunkenness, and witchcraft
- abuse and neglect of women and children
As Christians, our job is to bring the light of Jesus to every precious culture. Through His Word and His Holy Spirit, God will show people the changes they need to make to redeem their cultures back to Him.
All people are equally valid. All cultures need Jesus.
And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.”