Israel Folau

What Happened?

Australian Rugby player Israel Folau had his $4 Million contract with the Waratah Wallabies terminated for breach of league code of conduct by posting religious comments that offended the gay community.
Rugby Australia chief-executive Raelene Castle announced that an independent panel had determined Folau’s statement consisted of a “high-level breach” of their conduct policies.

So what did he Say?

Last year, Falau posted an image Titled “God’s Plan” (Shown Below). A follower of Folau (one of roughly 336,000), Blithely asked “What was gods plan for gay people??” to which Folau responded “HELL… Unless they repent of their sins and turn to God.” This year, the rugby player posted a meme showing a list of sins to which hell awaits. The meme was followed by several Bible verses. He was fired after the second post.

From Israel Folau’s Instagram page

Do Folau’s Statements Represent Christianity?

When Israel Folau’s states that God’s plan for gays is “Hell,” his statement could be interpreted that God’s ultimate purpose for creating a gay person was eternal damnation or that He intended or wants them to go to hell. That is not Christianity and I don’t think that is what is intended as Folau also encourages repentance and salvation. The tone conveyed by the statement that hell awaits you is not the message that most Christians want to share, but the warning of hell is within traditional church doctrine.

It is also noteworthy that it was not the initial intent of either post to target the gay community. The first was a response to a question and the other included many other sins.

Will Homosexuals go to Hell?

Well certainly Orthodox teaching tells us that all homosexuals who do not confess Christ will go to hell. Also, the homosexual who turns to Christ is pretty clearly saved in scripture. The hard question is whether a confessed Christian living an active and unrepentant homosexual lifestyle will be condemned to hell. To answer that questions, consider the NT “sins list” passages.

Folau references Galatians 5:19-21 (listed above). This passages lists several sins which include homosexuality with a warning that those who commit such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Similar passages include Colossians 3:5, Ephesians 5:3, 1 Cor 6:9,10. One may not be able to be dogmatic that those who practice these sins unrepentantly will go to Hell, but I think it is something we need to take as a serious warning.

Are Those that Warn Homosexuals unloving?

I always had a problem when someone labeled Bible’s position on Homosexuality as hate speech because this argument begs the question of homosexuality not being sinful. If the Bible is true and homosexuality is a sin, then aren’t Christians justified and even loving for wanting people to leave this sinful lifestyle? If the Gay lifestyle is a barrier to people making Christ lord of their life, shouldn’t we encourage them to leave it?

Are Christians Homophobic and discriminatory?

The RA tolerance policy states that “Rugby has and must continue to be a sport where players, officials, volunteers, supporters and administrators have the right and freedom to participate regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race or religion and without fear of exclusion. There is no place for homophobia or any form of discrimination in our game and our actions and words both on and off the field must reflect this.”

Christians should push back on our beliefs being labels has Homophobic and discriminatory. There is nothing inherent in Christian teaching that tells us to fear or hate gays.

As far as discrimination, Christian teaching does not leads us to any discriminatory actions. It is not discriminatory to call someone who is a sinner a sinner. Of course, Christians shouldn’t treat homosexuality as worse than any other sin. Jesus forgives it just the same. It is interesting that the LBGT community views comments like these as so inflammatory. They aren’t the first group to be warned of eternal damnation, the message has been around a long time.

Not even Christian teaching on marriage is discriminatory. There is nothing preventing a gay person from getting married as defined by the church (between man and woman). Ultimately, a gay person does not want marriage as traditionally defined but wants to redefine the concept. The issue is more of a difference in definition than discrimination. Even in sending a person to Hell God does not do so strictly because someone is a homosexual, but rather because they are a sinner in general.

As a community, we should support Israel Folau and not shrink from his statements. We need to fight tolerance policies that treat our core beliefs as hateful and discriminatory. The truth is sometimes very unpopular. Christianity is fundamentally antithetical to LBGT beliefs and identity and there is nothing that will make our beliefs acceptable to them. We can’t allow mere restatement of orthodox doctrine to lead to public censure and loss of livelihood.