Together We Are One Garden

Posted on: June 28, 2019, by :

I admit it – I’m confused. I really don’t know where I stand on the whole Israel Folau saga. I certainly don’t agree with his assertion that ‘drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolaters’ are bound for hell (indeed I don’t believe there is a hell, but that’s another story), but I think I accept his right to hold that belief. I don’t think his decision to set up a Go-Fund-Me page to fund his legal battle was at all appropriate, but I think I accept the right of people to choose to contribute to it. I don’t think the Australian Christian Lobby should purport to speak on behalf of ‘Christians’ (thus implying ‘all’ Christians), but I accept that they do represent a significant segment of the Christian community. I don’t think Israel Folau should be sacked by Rugby Australia for the personal values he holds, but I do think Folau, as a high profile sporting personality, ought to exercise much more responsibility and sensitivity in his public proclamations. It’s all so confusing!

As I sat in the midst of my confusion, I came across two articles that helped shed some light on the apparent tension between personal belief and social ethic. The first was a reflection on how biblical material can be used (or misused) to support or oppose virtually any cause, meaning that those who quote from scripture (as Folau did) should consider their personal biases before claiming Biblical support for their argument, lest they make the Bible say something the Biblical writers never intended it to say. The second was the address by Imam Farid at the memorial service following the attack on the Christchurch mosque on March 19. Farid’s wife was killed in the attack. Both quotes have helped resolve some of my confusion!

If you are looking for verses with which to support slavery, you will find them. If you are looking for verses with which to abolish slavery, you will find them. If you are looking for verses with which to oppress women, you will find them. If you are looking for verses with which to liberate or honour women, you will find them. If you are looking for reasons to wage war, you will find them. If you are looking or reasons to promote peace, you will find them. If you are looking for an out-dated, irrelevant ancient text, you will find it. If you are looking for truth, believe me, you will find it. This is why there are times when the most instructive question to bring to the text is not ‘what does it say?’ but ‘what am I looking for?’ If you want to do violence in this world, you will always find the weapons. If you want to heal, you will always find the balm.” [Rachel Held Evans, A Year of Biblical Womanhood]

I don’t want to have a heart that is boiling like a volcano. A volcano has anger, fury, rage; it doesn’t have peace. It has hatred, it burns itself within, and it burns the surroundings. I don’t want to have a heart like this. I want a heart that is full of love and care and full of mercy and will forgive lavishly … We are human brothers and sisters. How can I hate my human brother? I don’t agree with what he has done. I don’t support his action, but I cannot deny he is my human brother. This is what Allah taught. I cannot hate him. I cannot hate anyone. Our attitude should be that we are one family, regardless of faith, religion, culture and language. In the garden there are different types of flowers, but together they make a beautiful garden. We must be like this. I’m a different religion, you’re a different religion, but together we are one garden.” [Imam Farid, Christchurch]

David

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