|University of Otago
|Honour; Luke 7: 36-50; shame; dignity; culture; honor; hospitality; NZ; Maori; Pakeha; NZ Chinese; NZ Samoan; Pacific; collectivist; individualist; New Zealand; value; church; Simon the Pharisee; sinful woman; woman who sinned; contempt; Luke 7
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How do Christians today understand and express honour to one another? Honour is a term with many meanings and expressions in and outside the church and across cultures. Honouring one another is a biblical command (Philippians 2:1-11; Romans 12:1-21; Ephesians 4:1-14) and is vital to healthy relationships yet can be difficult to understand, easy to misinterpret and challenging to live out. Using an account of hospitality in Luke 7:36-50 as its reference point, this project was a comparative study exploring ways four ethnic groups within the New Zealand Church understand and express honour in the context of hospitality. Study participants drawn from NZ Maori, NZ European (Pakeha), NZ Chinese and NZ Samoan ethnicities were given Luke 7: 36-50, with a brief outline of its characters and setting, and asked to identify comparative hospitality events in their family of origin and current faith community. Questions exploring the various expressions of honour, shame, dignity and value arising from Luke 7:36-50 were used to help elicit the participants’ understanding of those concepts in both settings. What emerged is a clear distinction on concepts, language and expressions of honour between individuals from more collectivist cultures, which retain some hierarchical structures and which connect honour with identity, as against the Pakeha or non-hierarchical individualist group who had not previously given much thought to honour or their own cultural identity. It also became evident that cultural expressions of honour or lack of such expressions influenced but did not govern how each understood the honour God calls us to.