The Way of Christ versus Cultural and Family Traditions. Years ago I was privileged to hear actor, Al Harrington (Hawaii 5-0, White Fang and numerous t.v. shows) speak to a group of youth. His main focus was Fa’a Keriso, his main message, “Strip away all that cannot coexist within the Culture of Christ.”
As of late, my husband and I have discussed this quite frequently. We belong to an ethnic (Samoan) ward – we were hijacked really, from our conventional ward into the brand-new Samoan ward formed in our city. My husband’s greatest concerns were that the offices of chief and high chief would overshadow that of the bishop. (This has indeed happened in the past). This has not happened, as the bishopric (two of which are chiefs) have made it very clear that the church is the church and the culture is the culture and in all case, the church’s culture will take precedence.
But how does this apply in the lives of everyone else. I have occasion to travel. I speak everywhere and love every minute of it. But I hear constantly, “Oh, those Utah Mormons, they don’t know what they’re doing.” Now this, from people who are in the process of doing everything contradictory to the church’s handbook. So why do we have an Us vs. Them attitude in the church? Because of culture and tradition. In every portion of the world societies are rich in tradition. When the church is brought into the mix, rather than understanding the purity and exactness in the gospel, they meld and mix until they have a hybrid that suits their purposes.
See, the gospel isn’t about suiting someone’s purposes. It’s about truth that has not been tainted by time or man. It’s about teachings, practices, principles and precepts from our Father in Heaven – that’s it. The gospel is perfect in its entirety and needs no improvement unless it is from heaven.
When traditions within culture or family bring you closer to Christ, then they are good. If they pull you away from Christ, then they are bad. It’s pretty simple, really. The gospel of Jesus Christ saves, it redeems, it perfects. It’s hard to improve on that.