Life in any culture different from our own is full of lessons and perspectives, if only we’ll look around and see them. Here are a few I’ve picked up on in our travels and conversations.
Uriah was a bad husband whose behavior likely drove his wife into David’s arms.
As a group of Deaf Ecuadorians sat and watched the story of King David’s adultery, they were fairly disapproving of Bathsheeba and the King. Of course, they blamed David far more than they did Bathsheeba (more on this later). However, their willingness to point fingers increased tenfold as we began to examine Uriah. Specifically, the soldier’s reluctance to go home to be with his wife was lambasted. Matters grew worse when the group realized Uriah was more concerned with this buddies in the field than with his wife’s loneliness.
Ultimately, the group concluded that Uriah’s behavior and fierce resistance to returning home was likely an indication of his character: neglectful husband. As a result, while Bathsheeba was wrong, it was pretty understandable – this adultery thing. Despite her obvious beauty, she was lonely and ignored. The most guilty person in all of this was Uriah, followed closely by David and, in a far distant third position, Bathsheeba.
Growing up in the southwestern United States, I learned a very different view of this story. Uriah, as I was taught, respected the bond that develops between men who lay down their lives for one another. The relationship between soldiers is rich and complex in the U.S., and it does not fade easily. Not all cultures, though, experience the life-long bond of brothers in arms. As a result, different conclusions come easily.
I gotta say, though: I can’t really refute the thinking here.
Baptism is immediate.
John the Baptist preached, called for repentance, and immediately baptized.
Philip taugh the Ethopian, then baptized him.
Seems pretty clear: profession of faith, then baptism. So…what’s up with these new Christian classes? Seem like sinful barriers to obedience to biblical commands.
Most of the people I work with are quite literal and chronologically oriented. As they see it, the Bible’s authors could have placed delays and postponements into the text, but opted not to since there were (apparently) no delays to record.
Financial condition is a safe predictor for eternal reward or damnation.
Jesus told a story. In the story:
Lazarus was poor. Lazarus did not know Jesus. Lazarus went to heaven anyway.
The rich man was rich. The rich man did not know Jesus. The rich man did not go to heaven.
Therefore, to the local Christians, it would seem that Jesus’ primary point was that our economic condition, which usually stems from either honest or dishonest approaches to income, is sometimes a better predictor for our eternal state than faith in Christ. It is not a singular predictor, but a solid one nonetheless. The rich man had to play dirty in order to be rich, and Lazarus’ poor condtion was proof of his refusal to worship money over relationships.
Ultimately, blame rests on he who tempts
Going back to Bathsheeba, Deaf Ecuadorian believers understand that the decision to sin rests in the sinner. However, they also place a large portion of blame on the one who tempts. The large emphasis on the community here results in a more corporate view of blame; that is, no one sins in a vacuum, nor without provocation. When marriages fall apart around here, each spouse tells friends, “If I find out who encouraged this and detroyed my marriage…” Fathers mourn their sons’ homosexuality and propose as a solution, “…go out and find who dragged my kid into this. I’ll beat that predator and that way my son won’t have anyone tempting him to re-enter that lifestyle.”
If we need proof, all we have to do is go back and realize that the serpent in the Garden gets a more harsh punishment than anyone else. See? The sinner is guilty, but he who tempts is just as bad.
As an American, though, I see things from the perspective of personal responsibility. I view sin as the sinner’s act, and anyone who tempts is not responsible for my own sin. I hail from a country that worships rugged individualism, in marked contrast to local customs, and as such do not readily perceive a communal aspect to temptation and sin.
Deaf people cannot be saved unless they set aside sign language and learn to speak. (Romans 10:8-10)
Jesus was a great sorcerer, proven by the fact that he ascended to a high place and summoned the spirits of the dead. (Mount of Transfiguration)
Lot’s daughter’s had deformed children (inbreeding).
Thus concludes today’s lesson in perspective. Tune in tomorrow as we discuss recipes for a local delicacy: guinea pig.