Thursday, October 14, 2021
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Reflecting deeply on right and wrong

Christians, of course, are led in doing this by our Bible, both the Jewish Old Testament and the Christian New Testament. Some Christians would say that the way to love our God with our minds is to take every word in the Bible as true and to live from that conviction. It is hard to understand how they can do this when even the New Testament contains words like “wives obey your husbands” and “slaves obey your masters”.

Of course, these two commandments are just two examples of odd writings. In the Old Testament we have leaders with lots of wives, Noah’s Ark claiming to carry samples of all the creatures of the world (hard to imagine a boat that big!), all sorts of wars and relationships which would seem to be far removed from a just and loving God. We do have the books of Job and Habakkuk which ask the hard questions of God and maybe they are a helpful example for us all.

Having said that, even the separation which we need to make between what humankind has done in various histories and what is the will or action of our God, is not always easy to do. But, if we are really committed to loving our God with our minds, it is critical that we create communities of faith which are prepared to do that and to work out which parts of the holy Bible are, indeed, holy and which are ambiguous or wrong perceptions about godly life and faith.

If we explore the life of all sorts of people around our world, both now and in our histories, we can surely see how critical it is to reflect deeply on what is right and wrong and certainly not to claim the authority of our God in unjust relationships or activities. The dominance of men over women is still supported in many places and cultures and that is to be questioned. Racism and prejudice is rife among us and we sometimes act as though that is the way our God created us.

In our country, we often refuse to share our wide land with others who are desperate for a home, even though we took this land from its Indigenous people in the first place. My own forbears were forced onto a boat off the island of Skye by harsh Scottish landlords and most of them died on the way to Australia where they landed on the coast of Victoria. They were farmers and, sadly, they took the good Aboriginal land in Gippsland to establish farms for themselves in Australia. They did this, even though they were followers of a Christian God, and we can still see this sense of superiority between many of our people and those who are needy or vulnerable. How is this enacting the loving of our God with mind, heart and soul?

None of this requires us to simply hand over things to others. In fact, sometimes loving is actually about working together to bring about independence, respect for each other and a future where we all share life. Love is, indeed, often complex. Those of us who are parents know that when we try to relate to our children with true love and to invite in them maturity and wisdom it can be complex.

Genuine and deep faith challenges us in many moments. It explains the sometimes ambiguities of religious writings, as people over the centuries tried to write what they understood the truth to be – God’s will for them in relationships and life in general. Fortunately, we can share together our questions and convictions and somewhere in all that, we may find the will of God.

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