Last week at church, one of the topics of discussion was keeping friends. The conversation rolled around to gossip and the many warnings about the dangers of gossip. As the newbie, I had an opportunity to ask a nagging cultural question.
*Disclaimer: I’m speaking in generalizations and from personal experience. I realize that those are two things one should rarely do, but this is my blog and I’m warning you up front!*
First, you should know that Filipinos are ever gracious (except on the road, but that’s another story). They will bend over backward to make sure you are comfortable. This may be part of the reason that Filipinos work quite literally all over the world. Part of this graciousness looks like preventing the other person from looking bad- saving face. If I have an issue with you, I should talk with a mutual friend, who will go to you about it. This keeps me from having to confront you and potentially embarrass you.
Also, my favorite definition for culture is “the personality of a group.” (Thanks, Jerry from PFO!)
Given all that, my nagging question was about the intersection of wisdom and culture. Is it gossiping if I use a third party for your own good?
I find these questions fascinating. (I was told, by the way, that it would be best for a Christ-follower to go directly to the person, per Matthew 18.) While I believe that culture is a gift of God, it seems that most cultures have practices that don’t align with His wisdom. I so appreciated the ability of my Filipino friends to evaluate their own cultural practices in the light of His word, and I wondered how often I do the same. It’s easy to see my own cultural practices as normal and unavailable for evaluation. I have a lot to learn!