Let God Be True – Lessons from the Folau Fallout

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Israel Folau, former-Mormon and now converted Christian (oh, and Australia rugby international), has got into a bit of a ruck.

Qantas is considering pulling sponsorship of the Wallabies if further homophobic statements are made by Israel Folau or other players.

The highest profile rugby player in the country has come under immense criticism after saying on Instagram gays were destined to go to hell unless they repented for their sins. He has since deleted the comment posted on Tuesday.

While Qantas would not comment on its conversations with Rugby Australia other than to say it was disappointed with Folau’s post, it is understood that executives have made it known they will not tolerate more controversial statements regarding homosexuality.

There is an extra level of complexity to this. The CEO of Qantas is Alan Joyce, an openly homosexual man who was a public advocate and financial supporter of the recent “Yes” campaign for a change in the legal definition of marriage.

So how did Izzy drop the ball? Here’s the Instagram post that caused the trouble. The line that’s got everyone stirred up is marked in the comments:

It’s actually a much-overused meme that has done the rounds for years.

Now, note the dynamic here. If you simply read the newspaper articles you would think that Folau set out to stir up contention over the gay issue. But the truth is revealing – he was asked a question and the question was essentially unrelated to the post he made. It was the questioner, Mike Sephton, who raised the issue of homosexuality and it’s quite clear that it wasn’t a neutral question. He already knew the answer that Folau would give.

Now, should Izzy have stepped into the snare that Sephton set for him? Perhaps not. But then, on the other hand, this is going to continue to be the issue on which we get slammed time and time again so I have nothing but praise and admiration for him sticking his head up over the trench knowing full well he would get smashed for it; let God be true and every man a liar. I can only hope I should have similar courage.

Again, would I have answered it slightly differently? Perhaps. I think it’s important at moments like this not to confirm the unspoken assumption that, somehow, the issue of human sexuality is one that God takes a particularly obsessive line on to the exclusion of other matters. The irony, of course, is that the assumption is itself an outworking of our culture’s total preoccupation with sexual things and the wider self-indulgence such a position flows out of.

So let’s learn from it. Here’s what I’m coming away with:

  1. We can’t avoid being challenged on this topic. Any expression of our Christian faith is liable to get pivoted onto this issue.
  2. Not everyone will like the truth. Not everyone by a long shot.
  3. Jesus said “Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” (Luke 9:26 NIV11)
  4. The glory that Jesus arrives in and shares with his people will make the prestige of playing representative sport for your country look like a participation ribbon at a local tiddly-winks competition (and no disrespect intended to davidould.net’s dedicated but small tiddly-winks-playing contingent of readers).
  5. I think I know which glory Folau is more interested in. And I’m encouraged by that. How about you?

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This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Robert Bruce

    Alas, so the world has come to the point at which Sodomites set the agenda for discussion of what is, and is not, acceptable in society. Possibly I have overstepped the new mark by using the term Sodomites: would it be more appropriate if I said “persons who obtain sexual satisfaction by penetration of the rectum”? It’s really hard to talk about any such thing without offending the sensibilities of some group or other, so please forgive if my use of that term causes any discomfort.

    In the old and (at least nominally) Christian Australia in which most of us grew up, open discussion of sexuality in general and especially of sexual perversions (oops, should I say “practices that some find most gratifying”?) was considered inappropriate in polite society. That is not to say sexual deviations (sorry, “variations”) were unknown, but they were considered things that people so inclined might do in private without forcing the majority who are not so inclined to think and talk about them on a regular basis. Now we are exposed to the sexual peccadilloes (is that term alright?) of various groups on a daily basis and the new norm is that you must listen to, and tacitly accept, what is said without comment (unless it be to encourage practices that used to be considered disgusting).

    Israel Folau’s “offence” was to speak his mind, clearly something very unwise in today’s society. He did it in what may have seemed a private conversation but that is something else fast becoming a rarity in these days of social media. Perhaps as society “advances” further all people will be obliged to wear their sexual preferences on their sleeves, or maybe even their foreheads, and the enlightened individuals who prefer other things will make fun openly of those who still find profound satisfaction in intimate connection with a partner to whom they are committed spiritually as well as physically in monogamous, heterosexual marriage. Really, it’s surprising that hasn’t come to pass yet: 1984 was 34 years ago, wasn’t it?


    1. Trish

      Well said Robert.

  2. Douglas

    He breached Rugby Australia’s Code of Conduct.

  3. bcwearne

    Thankyou David for exposing the hi-jacking that went on in this instance. Alan Joyce of Qantas needs to be asked whether husbands and wives can still travel on “his” airline. Qantas, under his CEO-ship, like WORDPRESS, are not into allowing people to state their views without using their corporate power to interrupt them, to silence them on matters of public belief and honest statement therof. They may say they are interested in public discourse, but by their actions they demonstrate that public discourse for them is simply about pressure tactics. If Israeli Folau has breached Rugby Australia’s Code of Conduct then maybe he should disentangle himself from a Code of Conduct that requires that silence be interpreted as consent. I think I’ll go back and watch A Man for All Seasons again, and perhaps the Qantas CEO and those in charge of WORDPRESS ought to do likewise. They might learn something.
    Bruce Wearne
    (former Nurturing Justice blogger until WORDPRESS hijacked my site)

  4. Steve

    I am not paying careful attention to the commenting rules as you can’t have it both ways… You want to protect free speech, but then you want to censor your website in case it doesn’t fit within your guidelines.

    Get out of the dark ages people… There is no such thing as hell and you simply cannot promote hate speech by trying to justify what Folau said.

    1. David Ould

      hi Steve,

      Nobody’s censoring you.
      As for “hate speech”, how is it hate to warn somebody when you think they’re in danger? Surely the opposite is true? If you think someone is in danger but don’t warn them then that’s terrible.

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