In one corner we have a man, Israel Folau who is contemplating his future. Because he refused to delete a post on Instagram he has lost his income, his career, his prestige but he has retained his dignity and his backbone. I am not a 100% sure Israel Folau’s Christianity is orthodox, but I am 110% sure he is a man of principle and I will back up a man who sticks to his Christian principles every day of the week.
In another corner we have the ultimate compromise candidate, Scott Morrison. The man the Liberal Party chose instead of the left leaning Turnbull and the right leaning Peter Dutton. But he is not just the compromise choice of the LNP, he seems to want to carry that moniker into his Prime Ministership and into the election campaign. Many Liberal supporters have been waiting to see if Scott would show true conservative or progressive principles, many Christians were hoping this would be the Christian PM to lead the country into a new age of honouring God. But at the end of the day he has shown us he really is the true Compromiser:
“Question: How appropriate was it for Bill Shorten to raise your answer to a question you received about whether gay people go to hell and can you clear up your position on that question?
Scott Morrison: I have already made a statement. It is not my view that’s the case. My faith is about the – God’s love is for everybody.
That is what I have always believed.
I found it very disappointing that without even prompting he sought to try and politicise this. And seek to exploit opportunity for it. I thought that was very disappointing.
I don’t think that should have a place in this election campaign. People’s faith are people’s faith.
I’m not running for Pope, I’m running for Prime Minister.
So, you know, theological questions you can leave at the door.
Question: Do you believe…[gay people go to hell]
Morrison: I just said no, I don’t.
Question: Why didn’t you say that when you were asked yesterday?
Morrison: Yesterday I plead the point these are — made the point these are religious issues and I don’t want to see those controversial topics being brought into the political debate. I don’t see how that helps anybody” (The Guardian).
In an effort to try and keep his job, gotten through ill-gotten gain, let’s be honest, he has decided to compromise on his faith. He has clearly contradicted several passages of scripture (1 Cor 6, 1 Tim. 1 etc) in an effort to keep at arms length the baying progressive crowds. No he doesn’t believe gay people go to hell, God’s love is for everyone, he says. He is right about the fact that God’s love is for everyone, but he has clearly said something which contradicts the Apostle Paul, who wrote the book on Christian belief, almost literally (he wrote much of the New Testament at least).
It’s really sad that in today’s world Christianity has been boiled down to what people think about homosexuality. Because Christianity is about far more than that. Sexual ethics is a key component, but Christianity at its core is about a loving God who gave his life to redeem sinners, which we all are. As Paul said he is the chief among them. I know that I don’t deserve to go to heaven, none of us do. Only by trusting in Jesus can anyone get there. But for whatever reason our culture has backed Christianity into a corner on this issue of homosexuality, and the truth is the Bible does teach practicing homosexuals, along with gossips, slanders, the greedy, hypocrites adulterers and others will go to hell unless they turn from their sin and trust in Jesus (1 Corinthians 6:9-10), just as I would be still going to hell if I continued to define myself by my sin, rather than placed my trust in Jesus. It’s a hard teaching for our society to hear today, but in every generation there are aspects of God’s word the culture considers blasphemous and we have to teach it anyway. The good news is God doesn’t want to send anyone to hell and has made a way for people to escape punishment by trusting in his son who died on the cross for our sins.
But this isn’t good enough for the cultural elites. They still hate this truth, even when presented with nuance, love and care, and honest self-reflection. Indeed Bill Shorten knows this and has done something that is technically unconstitutional: he has used the media to create a religious test of office for the Prime Minister. Of course it’s not an official law, so it is not technically in breach of the Constitution, but it is definitely in breach of the spirit of the Constitution. But then again the Constitution was written for a different people, with different morals, in a very different age, an age when Christendom still was a valid name for the Western world. A time when the Western world was forging ahead with new liberal principles that had been hard fought through civil wars, revolutions, religious tensions and even a couple of religious wars in the preceding several centuries. Classical Liberalism was the new ideal for this new age Christendom was entering into, an age of liberality for people of all ideas and creeds, where all boundaries were being broken down and society was opening up in ways it never had before. It is a beautiful dream that is starting to shatter before our eyes.
You see this whole situation with Morrison and Shorten highlights something problematic for Western civilization. Societies with few to no boundaries will be over come by cultures or societies with strong boundaries. Whatever you can say about the leftist/progressive cultural framework, it has clear boundaries and a clear hierarchy. They claim to be egalitarian, but that is far from true. There is a hierarchy and sexual ethics, and sexual identity are key components to that hierarchy. There are categories for working out how people should be situated in the hierarchy: sexual orientation, race, ideology, etc, etc are relevant. And these are progressively shifting towards more extreme identity groups with more aspects of their identity lining up with the leftist check boxes of oppression. It’s a very clear, systematic and hierarchical way to restructure society, and it is working, we see it working more and more.
This very clear framework will continue to overcome a “classical liberal” framework because there is nothing which defines classical liberalism other than nebulous, difficult to define things like tolerance, equality, etc, etc. Which have all been disconnected from their roots in Christendom and the philosophies of thinkers who forged their ideas in Christian discussion groups, universities, and culture and therefore these values have been made far less secure as guiding principles for our modern society. They are now disconnected from their originating document: the New Testament. These values were hashed out in debates about how to live as differing Christians in a Christian society, they were never designed to be principles for a multi-cultural society, that looked on Christianity with disdain. Just read the writings of men like Locke, and that is pretty clear. We need to completely re-evaluate how we move forward, because the principles of a bygone era are no longer serving the freedoms they were intended to foster, they are now being twisted and corrupted to suit those who wish to use them for their own quest for power in the progressively less-liberal West.
In this new context Christians will be better off laying their chips on the table and letting what may come, come, it will be painful but its the best path forward. Scott Morrison should just be honest that unrepentant sinners of all types go to hell and take the public shame and criticism that comes with it. We should all be willing to do the same, because at least that way we will keep our principles, and as society begins to shift again we will have a base from which to work from: solid traditional Christian values. By equivocating we just loose respect on all sides and gain zero ground, and prove to many that Christian principles aren’t worth holding to (when really they are).
We have seen two very public examples of how to navigate this sexular culture, one is Scott Morrison the compromise candidate who likely will lose his job and his public standing soon, the other is Israel Folau who has lost so much but kept his backbone and inspired millions because of it. I know who I would rather be compared to. I just hope when I am challenged I show the courage to stand firm, I hope all of us who name Jesus Lord will do so.