Why God Wants Us to Respect Different Cultures
Throughout my adult life, I have been condemned for being hateful because I do not obey people. I used to hate myself for it. I felt like the devil’s child because the Bible says to submit myself to other’s in brotherly love (Ephesians 5:21). Yet, the things people asked me to do seemed wrong. When I celebrated Thanksgiving last week, which my family claims is a Christian holiday because we thank God, I realized that culture is only practices unrelated to love and should not be forced on anyone.
I always wondered how to accommodate two seemingly contradictory ideas. I was educated at the University of California, Berkeley where I interned at the 2048 Project and tried to write a universal Bill of Rights to be passed by the United Nations and ratified by 2048. As the name suggests, the goal of the project was to implement Western human rights standards in every country. The question that arose was how to get other cultures to adopt these standards while maintaining their culture. I thought that these standards were culture, but culture has nothing to do with how to treat people in a loving way.
Culture is traditions we do that do not necessarily give life; it is simply different ways people practice life. Culture is more a preference how a group of people like things done. It does not involve love like Thanksgiving – a North American cultural tradition.
Religion involves how to interact with people. Each religion has different standards and rules that may or may not show love, depending on their values and what they condemn and condone.
With these definitions, culture has nothing to do with right or wrong. It is more a preference, and God does not care about preferences. The only thing God cares about is that we love Jesus as Him (John 6) and love one another (John 13:34). If someone does not take life and does not sin (John 8:12, 44), then that person should not have a culture forced on them. Instead, we should respect each other’s differences (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).