Cultural vs. scripture

Leslie

Puritan Board Junior
I have some differences with the church pastor who hosts my clinic in his front yard. He is blackmailing me by sabotaging the clinic in order to get money. The clinic was started in the first place when he came to me and requested it, to meet the needs of the desperately poor in his congregation. As it is, it costs me a lot to just keep it going; he does not deserve pay at all since I am volunteering to solve his problem. However, I do pay him some, to compensate for my patients trampling his yard. He is already getting rich off the clinic by selling food and lodging to patients who come from a distance.

On my way to see him to do the Matthew 18:15 thing about the sabotage, I told my security guard of my intentions. He told me not to do it, that telling someone directly of his offense was insulting, and the pastor would have grounds for having me arrested. "He knows what he is doing."

Being acquainted with Jewish culture, I realize that it is and was confrontational in the extreme. This is likewise evident from the gospels. So does the culture into which Jesus spoke modify or negate his command? Does culture trump scripture here or vice versa?
 

Logan

Puritan Board Senior
I'm not aware of any commentator who understands it as the "Jewish model". I believe it is rightly understood as the "biblical model."
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
It sounds like your security guard has your interests in mind and knows the culture. Perhaps he has some ideas about a culturally sensitive/safe way to handle this.

You should NOT feel you have to rigidly follow Matthew 18 in this case with the idea that this pastor is "your brother" as described in that passage. The passage clearly is NOT describing a situation involving a person in spiritual leadership who is engaging in willful sin against the needy, or who has the ability to be abusive toward you if you go to him. The "brother" in that passage is someone of equal standing/power, under the authority of the church, since the church might intervene if the attempt at reconciliation is unsuccessful. You should recognize the power dynamics at work and be careful, "wise as a serpent." It sounds like this probably means some approach other than the one described in Matthew 18, which is not a one-size-fits-all mandate.
 

Leslie

Puritan Board Junior
A retired church leader whom I consulted on this matter offered to take the problem onto his own shoulders. Because of the upcoming Ethiopian holidays, he said it will take a few weeks. He intends to go to the pastor first, then to the local government officials. We are hoping to find an alternative location. At any rate, we are following Matthew 18 as closely as the local culture will permit.
 
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