Daily Devotional

The Challenges of Inter-cultural Marriages

Monday, December 2, 2019

Scripture: Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman. (Numbers 12:1 NKJV)

Observation: If we were to read the second verse isolated from the first, we might wonder if Aaron and Miriam’s complaints may have some justification – although there really is no justification for jealousy directed toward someone whom the Lord has chosen for a leadership position!  Here’s a very concise explanation of what all went on (From the SDABC): “Upon rejoining Moses at Mt. Sinai (see on Ex. 4:25 and 18:2), Zipporah had observed the heavy burdens borne by her husband and expressed to Jethro her fears for his well-being. Thereupon Jethro counseled Moses to select others to share the responsibilities of administration with him. When Moses acted upon this counsel without first consulting Miriam and Aaron, they became jealous of him and blamed Zipporah for what they considered Moses’ neglect of them (see PP 383). The fact that Zipporah was a Midianite, though a worshiper of the true God, was used by Miriam and Aaron merely as an excuse for rebelling against the authority of Moses. He did not violate the principle of non-marriage with the heathen when he took her to wife, as they apparently claimed.”

Application: We can make many applications of this story to other situations.  Among them, jealousy of others in leadership positions is forbidden by God.  If He has chosen them instead of us, who are we to question Him or them?  Instead, the Bible counsels us to pray for them that have that responsibility.
     From the relational point of view, Aaron and Miriam were evidently jealous of Zipporah, Moses’ wife.  We can draw several lessons for us today:
1. Once a brother or sister marries someone, we should find ways to embrace them and make them feel welcome.
2. We should respect the relationship and decisions that our siblings make with their own spouse as much as we wish to be respected when we and our spouse make decisions.  I have see many families suffer greatly because somebody got involved in somebody else’s life.  We may not like or agree with other family member’s decisions, but as long as their decisions do not hurt or interfere with our own family or decisions, we should stay out of their life.
3. Some cultures are more similar than others, and marriage between them may not be problematic.  The more different the cultures are, the more difficulties the couple and families may encounter.  Marriage is a challenging thing regardless of who enters into this relationship, and the more the couple has in common the stronger the relationship will be.  The more differences among them, the more challenges they will likely face.  While success in inter-cultural relationships is not impossible and many couples have been very successful and happy, many others have encountered insurmountable challenges which have caused or contributed to the demise of their relationship.  I speak from experience since I was born and brought up in Colombia, South America, and my wife was born and raised in Virginia.  We were raised differently, in different size families, a different language, even a different faith.  However, by the time we met and eventually married, our commitment to God and to each other, and the similarities we shared were greater than the differences we had.  Even so, we have had challenges from time to time and in certain places due to our cultural differences.  Praise God, however, that we have overcome those differences and we remain committed and in love after 3 years of dating and more than 27 years of marriage.
     So, look for areas where you are similar and build on those, and be aware of the possible challenges to you as a couple, to your families of origin, and to your children that your relationship may bring about.

A Prayer You May Say: Father, we all came from the same Creator’s hand, but in the last six thousand years sin has divided us and made us all different.  Not only that, but where and how we were raised has made us different.  And now, as we enter into romantic and marital relationships, all those differences present us with challenges that threaten to separate us and destroy our families.  Father, help us to find more things in common than things to divide us, and help us to stay committed to each other and to You, until no breath remain in us, or until Jesus returns for us.

Used by permission of Adventist Family Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.


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