The distinction that Texas is the first state in the Union to have an Islamic Tribunal is not something for which we should be proud. Actually, a Sharia Court pre-dated the current one in Richardson, but the onus is still on Texas. One of the “judges,” Dr. Taher El-badawi, says that participation is only voluntary. Nevertheless, the new Sharia Tribunal is operating in Irving, which ought to be of no little concern to all Americans because there is no school of Islamic jurisprudence among either Sunnis or Shi’ites that does not mandate stoning for adultery or the subjugation of women.
What concerns me here is the reaction of liberalism to the court and the complete misuse of Bible passages to support it. When measures were introduced into the Texas House several years ago to forbid Sharia Courts in Texas, liberal bloggers went wild accusing conservatives of seeing ghosts that weren’t there. Now that the Sharia Court is operating, liberals chirp, ‘Well, at least they are not cutting off hands,” blah blah blah. But it is Rodger Jones of the Dallas Morning News (2-3-15) who writes in defense of the Islamic Court, “Don’t mainstream Jewish and Christian congregations offer those kinds of services? Consider, too, that the New Testament includes an injunction against taking a Christian brother to court. The church is a better place to solve disputes, according to some interpretations. From 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 (pretty snappy for a Catholic guy, eh?).”
Now the snappy guy is dragging the Bible into it. Let us see about it.
Paul addresses the church at Corinth regarding a number of problematic areas, including sin in the church (chap. 5) which the community of faith was to judge (5:13). This judgment was to expel the wicked man—not physically, but that he was to be considered outside of the realm of the faithful.
The entire paragraph of 6:1-11 turns to a kind of “judgment” that was to occur within the church, namely matters of everyday life where one member has a grievance against another. But instead of settling disputes within the church Christian was litigating Christian before tribunals of the unbelieving (v. 2) and soiling the church’s name. Paul is filled with indignation and alternates between statements of horror (v. 1, 6), rhetorical questions (v. 2-4, 5b) and sarcasm (v. 5). He warns that their misconduct would forfeit their inheritance of the kingdom of God (v. 9-11). What can we conclude?
First, Paul is talking about settling disputes without ‘going to law.’ He even urges “Why not rather take wrong?” “Why not rather be defrauded?” The church’s reputation is at stake. Why will not members suffer wrongdoing to protect it? The primary point: Guard the reputation of the church! Quit airing dirty laundry before the community! What has this to do with the subject at hand? Just this. Paul nowhere advocates an official “tribunal” with an alternate system of laws that come into conflict with legal jurisprudence of the nation. He is advocating settling disputes by brotherly agreements within the church. For the “snappy Catholic guy” to use this text to somehow equate to an official Islamic legal system complete with civic and criminal courts called Sharia is not snappy at all. It is an abuse.
Second, the only penalty enacted by the Corinthian texts, and any text in the NT, is expulsion from the community of faith. Withdrawing fellowship (2 Thess. 3) is how it is worded elsewhere, including “to have no company with” (3:14). Yet, even those “put away” from the church are to be loved and admonished as brethren (v.15). What has this to do with “legal physical punishments” enacted by Sharia Courts around the world? Even the Dallas Court already uses Islamic denigration of women, for according to El-badawi, “The husband can request a divorce directly from the tribunal” BUT the “wife must go to an Imam who will request a divorce for her.” She herself cannot even apply in the Court! What has this to do with the New Testament? Nothing at all. No resemblance whatsoever.