It was a milestone anniversary for the Sinhala pastor and his foreign wife. She shared their testimony as to how God had brought them together. Her mother had hesitated to bless them given the difference in culture. She had responded to her, “You are prejudiced!” I squirmed in my seat – it almost felt that was spoken from the pulpit just for me. As I quietly conversed with God I quickly defended myself, “Come on Lord, I’m not prejudiced. I have friends from various races that I have maintained all my life. It’s just that I’m looking at ‘compatibility’ when it comes to marriage and culture surely makes a difference.” I think God decided to rest His case at that moment. However I took it as God having accepted my reasoning.
Despite not being a Sri Lankan by nationality, whichever country I lived in, when asked where I was from, I would proudly state “Sri Lanka”. Back in Sri Lanka I couldn’t help but notice the number of inter racial marriages in the Christian circles. I was surprised as marriages outside the ethnicities let alone races had not been a common occurrence in the past. Those who did do so had had to brave much opposition from their families.
I also realised that God seemed to be putting me in touch with interracial families. Their kids seemed to share a resemblance no matter what the race their parents were. (It isn’t a blanket observation, but rather a general trend). Based on their looks, they can’t claim loyalty to, or boast about being of one particular race. They can’t take inappropriate pride as I have done in the past of being of a certain race. No, they are UNIQUE. I marvelled at this realisation and couldn’t help wonder whether these inter-racial kids resembled Adam & Eve. It makes sense really given the fact that mankind have their roots in Adam and Eve, or perhaps in Noah and family.
These inter racial families I met, were God fearing families. In fact one of these families became a role model in my eyes. I realised why they stood out as exemplary families. They couldn’t follow any particular ‘culture’ as then it would be unfair. The stronghold of cultural values that contradict God’s Word is torn down in their lives. Instead of culture, God’s Word is their foundation for living.
The words that pricked me directly from the pulpit came to haunt me time to time. I would ponder whether I was truly prejudiced and then happily brush it off. However, eventually I did tell the Lord if he wanted me to marry a godly man of another culture, I would be happy to be a part of raising up a generation that have their values based on God’s Word and a inter-race with their identity in being God’s child rather than of a particular culture. Yet when it came to the test of obedience, I still failed – MISERABLY! (I thank God for His grace and forgiveness and correction!!)
If we are honest with ourselves, most of our beliefs are our cultural values transposed onto God’s Word. We forget that, or are often ignorant of the right way round – that it should be God’s Word transforming our lives. We study the Bible through the conditioned lenses of our lives. If we come from a family that obeys parents no matter what, we continue to obey them no matter what. We justify it with the Bible verse “honour your parents”. We ignore verses such as Mark 10:29 and Matthew 10:35-38. Even when children have reached adulthood, they continue to look to their earthly parents rather than turning to the Heavenly Father. These are cultural strongholds. I
magine Zebedee’s sons walking away from their father and their trade at the drop of the hat in a culture where sons unquestionably followed their fathers even into adulthood. Jesus called them away from all that to follow Him.
God speaks to us in light of His will for our lives and holds us accountable – He doesn’t hold anyone else accountable for the choices we make let alone speak to others on behalf of us. The latter is true only when our hearts are hardened and we refuse to listen.
If we were truly steeped in the ways of God, or at least desire to be led by Him, this whole desire of having one from our ‘own’ culture won’t exist. Why? We then wouldn’t have our own cultures but rather we would have the culture of God. (Ouch, that hurt didn’t it? Well, it hurt me badly but this is reality.) We would have internalised the fact that we don’t belong to earth; that we are citizens of heaven; that our time on earth is to be fruitful and multiply to spread to the ENDS OF THE EARTH!
God’s Word and following His ways should be our passion and our ‘culture’ even at the rejection of others.
In fact the more I ponder on this topic of inter racial marriages, I realise it is actually an awesome way to raise a generation of BELIEVERS who are not bound (or rather minimally bound) by cultural strongholds that often serve as great barriers to following God’s narrow path.
The next article in this series will be on how we view ‘age’!!!