Being Genuine

Whether it be someone announcing, “glad you’re here at church today” but deliberately giving cold shoulders to certain members in the church or the Deputy Prime Minister supporting traditional marriage while being in an adulterous affair with his mistress, “fakeness” and hypocrisy is part of our human condition called sin.

Over the past two months, apologies have made some of the top headlines in Australian politics: from whether Australia Day should be changed to make amends for European colonisation, the tenth anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations to the Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce apologising for the impact of his extramarital affair on his family.

Not only as Australians but especially for those being followers of Jesus, we ought to be living lives of integrity and avoiding the “fakeness” that is often so prevalent in our sinful society.

Also making the news recently, is the rise of a new video making software that allows for the easy insertion of one’s likeness into existing films so that I could appear as if I were the President making a speech.

This software unsurprisingly named “FakeApp” has also been abused by some to create non-consensual pornography using the faces of celebrities.

Indigenous Australians and fake history

Despite European colonisation bringing forth many advances including allowing for the arrival of Christianity in Australia, it is important nevertheless to acknowledge the Indigenous Australians on the land.

As the Australian Government formally apologised to the Indigenous community in 2008 for the forced removal of children, ten years on it is still crucial that we all be striving to ensure that the history of our country is not distorted or “faked” in a way that minimises the experiences of Indigenous Australians.

The Bible teaches that God created all humans equal before Him. We are reminded of God’s goodness as the maker of life through Psalm chapter 139 verses 13 to 14 “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well”.

Our country, especially until the 1967 referendum, failed to include Indigenous Australians in the population count. We failed to treat them as equal human beings despite their long heritage in this land. The apology to the Stolen Generations should not be the end of reconciliation but an important stepping stone moving forward.

A decade after such an apology was delivered by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Australians are once again contending with whether our national day of celebration should be amended to consider the truth of what happened in 1788. For some, the 26th of January is more a day of European invasion rather than a celebration of Australia.

Perhaps in considering a move towards furthering reconciliation and a breaking down of “fakeness” embedded within the Euro-centric history often taught in schools, Australians should consider changing the date or at the very least seek to bolster understanding of the Indigenous experience.

Christianity on falseness

The Bible warns against “fakeness” especially hypocrisy for those in positions of power. The case of Barnaby Joyce, being a supporter of traditional marriage while committing adultery goes well with Jesus’ warnings to the teachers of the law as recorded in the Gospels.

Matthew chapter 23 tells of Jesus calling such people “hypocrites!” and Mark chapter 12 verses 38 to 40 is a reminder of how “fakeness” won’t go unpunished by God. There are consequences for not being genuine and divulging in “fakeness”, whether it be harm to others or ultimately harm to youras well.

“Fakeness” is seen through the dehumanisation of Indigenous Australians for the first and greater half of modern Australian history. Ignorance of  the Indigenous experience resulted in the damaging separation of children from their families.

Broken families have also arisen from the former Deputy Prime Minister’s fathering of a child with his mistress which was recently revealed in the media, forcing his resignation as leader of the National Party.

As serious is the damage caused upon the “traditional marriage” campaigners through Barnaby Joyce’s betrayal of traditional values. The consequences of “fakeness” can be devastating for all involved and affected.

Even “FakeApp” users are warned by the government that “capturing and distribution of intimate images without the consent of those depicted is a crime in NSW punishable by imprisonment and significant fines, including altering images so that they appear to show a person’s private parts, or a person engaged in a private act” (Damien Smith, Communications Director for Mark Speakman – NSW Attorney General).

The call to integrity

From our smallest interactions with one another in church to the stage of national politics, “fakeness” as part of sin is one of the fundamental challenges facing all of us every day. Not being true or genuine has significant effects on ourselves and the world around us; from broken families, whitewashing of history to the loss of job or even incarceration.

It is time that followers of Jesus take the lead with integrity in being genuine throughout all our interactions in life. When more people live as if they were “the temple of the Holy Spirit” in honour of God our creator (1 Corinthians chapter 6 verses 19 to 20), wouldn’t our society be a better place?

This article was first published at Christian Today Australia on 12 March 2018