Dr. Kay Daigle on Checking for Cultural Blinders
Contributed by Kay Daigle
Have you ever read a book that completely changed the way you view God’s Word? I mean just whacked you upside the head?
In the “Best Practices in Bible Study” series here on WomenLeadershipBible.com, we’re highlighting, well, best practices. ☺ That may involve sharing about a book, teaching, or concept that transforms the way you understand Scripture in an explosive way; other times, more subtle. Today’s guest post is about those times when the revelation is so explosive that it’s like God turns the whole thing inside out.
Our guest contributor today, Kay Daigle falls into my “favorite people in the world” category. She is a friend and colleague from our doctor of ministry program and the founder of Beyond Ordinary Women ministries. In her post, Kay talks about a time when God used a particular book to turn everything on its head for a while, before things came back into focus biblically, theologically, spiritually, and emotionally, yet also socially. Read on.
Checking Our Eyes for Cultural Blinders
Clearly there are dangers in approaching the Bible through our own cultural lenses. The most horrendous example may be the pre-Civil War preachers in the South who were convinced that slavery was biblical. Our cultural assumptions come not only from the greater culture where we live, but they are also based on our theological, racial, and social contexts. The more our biblical viewpoint is built on the teaching and writing of people just like us culturally, the greater the danger of misunderstanding and, thus, misapplying God’s Word.
In Misreading Scripture, authors E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brian provide a number of suggestions to help us as students of the Bible discover and correct assumptions we bring to Scripture. Their examples are eye-opening in recognizing how much we just don’t get right.
I will never tell the story of David and Bathsheba or Nicodemus’s visit with Jesus quite the same again after reading about shame and honor. When I study Moses’s wife Zipporah, I will not only picture her as black but I will also realize that, at that time, her people would have been considered superior to the slaves—as in, Moses’s people. As I read Paul, I will try to go beyond my mental acknowledgement that “you” is often plural and will consider differences that could make in my applications.
I could go on and on with examples of how the book changed my perspective. But I will simply list the cultural blinders the authors cover: mores, race and ethnicity, language, individualism and collectivism, honor/shame and right/wrong, time, rules and relationships, virtue and vice, and self at the center of God’s will.
How do we begin to recognize our own blinders? I recommend reading this book or another about culture. Richards and O’Brien urge reading Christian writing from a variety of cultures and time periods as the best way to grow more sensitive to our own cultural biases.
To be true to God’s meaning and its application, I need input from outside of my own little world. I have long appreciated reading outside of my restricted theological context as a way to reassess my beliefs. Being confronted with different perspectives makes me shore up or abandon my own beliefs. I now plan to read from different time periods and ethnic cultures as well.
What cultural blinders have you recognized in yourself?
Addendum from Dr. Eastman: Further Application and Community Interaction:
Does this produce any thoughts and/or feelings within you?
What can you do today seeking to understand Scripture as the Ancient Near Eastern series of texts that it is, and the people and situations within those pages as products of their own ancient cultures? Is there a resource on this topic that you already have, but haven’t read yet, or perhaps one you’d like to acquire?
You may find today’s post in the series interesting reading, but it might not be “hitting you between the eyes.” For some, it’s hitting—hard.
To those encountering this in an explosive way today, would you like to make a commitment to God and yourself about this? Please post any thoughts or reactions you’d like to share and a prayer, if desired, in the comment section below.
And to all others in our WLB community: let’s pray for our sisters (and any brothers who are here) for whom God is moving their soul via this topic today!
Kay is a life-long Texan who loves to teach the Bible and develop women as servant-leaders. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Beyond Ordinary Women Ministries, purposed to grow the influence of women by providing free and low-cost Christian resources online and to under-resourced churches.
Kay spent ten years leading women’s ministries on Northwest Bible Church and Prestonwood Baptist Church staffs. Kay is the author of From Ordinary Woman to Spiritual Leader: Grow your Influence, a practical and simple guide to help all Christian women apply foundational leadership skills in every area of their lives, and a number of free online Bible studies for women. Kay earned an M.A.C.E. from Dallas Theological Seminary and a D.Min. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Effective Ministries to Women.
Kay’s family includes her husband Gary, as well as two grown children, a son-in-law, two granddaughters, and two Westies. She loves Tex-Mex, books, movies, travel, and Texas Rangers games, as well as time with good friends. Look for her in the Dallas area driving her sporty little car.