Monday, February 07, 2011

Strange questions

During our week in Kenya we opened one session up for questions & answers. It wouldn't work if we just threw it open for discussion so we had a basket where they could write their questions....anonymously. We had more than we could answer, but of them all here is one that stuck with me....

"Can a Christian inherit or be inherited?"

Obviously we were out of our culture with this one. We had to get some clarification from the Kenyan leadership to even know what this question was asking and the answers surprised us.

In Kenya a man must pay a dowry to the family of the bride before they are married. It's a custom that has taken an odd turn. In current day thinking this gift, as Abraham gave for his daughter in law, Rebbecca, is now considered the same as a purchase price. Now, in Kenyan culture, the dowry is an ownership transaction that puts this new wife in the position of being property of her husband's family. Yes, you read that right. It sounded very much like slave trade to my western ears and it has a lot of the elements of it as well.

So, if the husband dies the wife is inherited by a brother or other family member, as if she were a piece of property this man left behind. In Kenya the wife "passes" to a brother as his property and he could marry her as another wife. Can a Christian inherit or be inherited? Isn't it amazing what a fallen culture can do to something so simple as a dowry gift? We had a lengthy discussion about this with the pastors, but some were still struggling with this issue. Clearly, as you could imagine, we told them there is no way a Christian should do this, but culture often wins the day.

It's clear, from our week with these pastors, why the Lord put us in this ministry in this part of Africa. We have a lot of discipleship to do with these dear pastors in the years ahead. I look forward to seeing what God does with us all.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Being a Christian quite often means that we live in contradiction to our culture. That is a lesson for Africa AND America! Thanks for sharing...I look forward to more stories from this trip.