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:
- We can’t avoid being challenged on this topic. Any expression of our Christian faith is liable to get pivoted onto this issue.
- Not everyone will like the truth. Not everyone by a long shot.
- 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)
- 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).
- I think I know which glory Folau is more interested in. And I’m encouraged by that. How about you?