Faith first for Folau

Rugby Australia has issued a breach notice to Israel Folau:

Folau sparked outrage after posting to his Instagram account last Wednesday night that “hell awaits drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolators” — adding they should “repent”. . . 

What he said is not just a tenet of fundamental Christianity, Muslim and Jewish religions would also regard these as sins.

At its core, this is an issue of the responsibilities an employee owes to their employer and the commitments they make to their employer to abide by their employer’s policies and procedures and adhere to their employer’s values,” Rugby Australia said in a statement.

Freedom of expression, outside work, obviously isn’t one of those values.

“Following the events of last year, Israel was warned formally and repeatedly about the expectations of him as player for the Wallabies and NSW Waratahs with regards to social media use and he has failed to meet those obligations. It was made clear to him that any social media posts or commentary that is in any way disrespectful to people because of their sexuality will result in disciplinary action. . .

This is an employment issue. Folau had been warned and ignored the warning. But was what was required of him fair?

In doing ignoring the warning, he’s chosen to put his faith before football:

Israel Folau is sticking to his guns no matter what it costs the embattled Wallabies superstar.

And he is continuing to place his faith in his religion, despite the storm airing his beliefs on social media has caused within both the Australian rugby and society in general. . . 

It’s obviously a decision that’s in the process right now but I believe in a God that’s in control of all things,” Folau told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“Whatever His will is, whether that’s to continue playing or not, I’m more than happy to do what He wants me to do.”

Folau said he would not mind one bit if his rugby career was done as long as he got to do The Lord’s work.

“First and foremost, I live for God now. Whatever He wants me to do, I believe His plans for me are better than whatever I can think. If that’s not to continue on playing, so be it.

“In saying that, obviously I love playing footy and if it goes down that path I’ll definitely miss it. But my faith in Jesus Christ is what comes first.” . . 

It’s not that long ago that not doing anything against which Folau is warning, would have been a code of conduct that was generally accepted as the right one and the condemnation of people who didn’t follow it would not have been remarkable.

Even now, while some have used social media to confess to being guilty on several of these counts, how can speaking out against any of them that hurt others be wrong?

But of course it’s not Folau’s condemnation of drunkenness, adultery, lying or thieving that’s caused the furor, it’s the inclusion of homosexuality.

Bob Jones points out:

First, these remarks are totally consistent with the Bible (and the Koran) so why the uproar?

Second, why did the critics, including the Prime Minister, solely complain about the reference to homosexuals? What about us drunks and fornicators? Doesn’t she care about our pain? We know the answer to that, namely unlike fairydom we’re not fashionable at the moment.

I can understand journalists concentration on homosexuals as few are whereas make no mistake, the vast majority I’ve known are drunks, adulterers, liars and fornicators to various degrees, so too heaps of MP’s.  A double-standard here methinks.

My contact with journalists and MPs hasn’t involved drunkenness, lying and fornicating but I don’t move in Sir Bob’s circles.

This whole episode is a classic pack-hunting media contrivance. I have difficulty believing a single drunk, fornicator, homosexual, adulterer or liar reading Israel’s remarks gave a damn. He’s entitled to express his religious beliefs as much as I for example am, to continue pursuing my life-long mockery of religion. . . 

An employment breach is between Rugby Australia and Folau but how many would have known about it if the media hadn’t picked up the post?

Only those who follow his account, at least some of whom no doubt agree with him, and others would be following him because of his footy fame and not be troubled by his faith.

But the mainstream media, as happens too often, picked up the post and broadcast it to the world. They then reported the outrage they’d stirred up and also the concern about people who might be upset by it who probably would have been oblivious had the media not generated the publicity.

The offenderati reacted predictably by condemning him and wanting to silence him.

Why when, as Michael Redell points out,  few share his beliefs?:

. . . If –  as most New Zealanders and a large proportion of Australians now claim to –  you don’t believe in the existence of God, let alone of eternal separation from God or Hell, it is hard to know why what Folau is saying should bother you.   You surely believe he is simply deluded and wrong, as he will discover (or rather not) when he dies.

If you don’t believe what he says why not ignore it, or counter it with rational argument?

That probably is the view of a fair number of people in New Zealand and Australia today.  But it isn’t the view of those holding the commanding heights –  MPs, leader writers, columnists, business leaders and so on –  who have demanded that it be stopped.  They simply cannot abide the thought that someone of any prominence should openly affirm that sin is sin, and that homosexual acts are among the things labelled as sin.

Here I’m not mainly interested in the Australian Rugby Union. I have a modicum of sympathy for their position, even if (as I noted in an earlier post elsewhere on these issues) the problem was partly one of their own making.   Rugby could just be rugby, but that’s not enough for today bosses.

My interest is more in what it says about our society – New Zealand and, it appears, Australia –  that no prominent person is free to express centuries-old Christian belief (views backed, rightly or wrongly, by the law of the land until only a few decades ago) when it trespasses on the taboos and sacred cows (“homosexuality good”) of today’s “liberal” elite.  And if no prominent person can –  and it is interesting to note that not a single church leader has been willing to stand up openly for Folau, and the Scriptures –  how will those less prominent be positioned.   Folau may lose a multi-million dollar contract, but he’ll already have earned much more than many ordinary working people make in their life.   But what of the ordinary employee of a bank or of one of those right-on government agencies.  It might not even be a personal social media account, or a speaking engagement at the local church.  It might be nothing more than a reluctance to participate in celebrations of what (in their belief, in the tradition of thousands of years) sinful acts.   The issue here isn’t someone proselytising across the counter of the bank, any more than Folau’s “offence” involved activity in the middle of a game, but a totalitarian disregard for any view –  no matter of how longstanding –  that doesn’t fall into line with today’s orthodoxy.

This is what concerns me too.

I don’t share Folau’s fundamental version of faith.

I find a lot of the Bible contradictory and when I do I choose the option that shows love and grace – turn the other cheek rather than an eye for an eye, for example.

But Folau’s are honestly held beliefs. They don’t impact on his playing ability, he wasn’t preaching during a game, why shouldn’t he be allowed to express them?

And there’s also the niggling thought that some religions are more equal than others and if his was another faith rather than Christian, he would he have been given a little more leniency.

8 Responses to Faith first for Folau

  1. Andrei says:

    He actually posted an image containing paraphrase of the Apostle Pauls words in 1 Corinthians written nearly 2000 years ago along and a passage from the book of Galations 5 19-26

    Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

    20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

    21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

    22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

    23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

    24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

    25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

    26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

    It is one word in the image of the paraphrased text that has attracted all the attention – sent many into paroxysms of indignant outrage, which is unbelievable to me when the bulk of the post is the Galations text which does not explicity mention homosexuality but is an exhortation to lead a sober life.

    The funny thing is virtually all will mourn the loss of Notre Dame as a loss of Western heritage but many would relish the Apostle Paul’s words being consigned to the dustbin of history

  2. Andrei says:

    What was actually posted was this from Galations along with an image of a paraphrase of an excerpt 1 Corinthians

    Galations 5 19-26

    19Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

    20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

    21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

    22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

    23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

    24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

    25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

    26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

    These are the words of the Apostle Paul written nearly 2000 years ago.

    One word in the image file have sent those with small minds into paroxyms of indignation – one word not contained in the excerpt from Galations which is an exhortation to sobriety

    All will mourn the loss of Notre Dame today but the Apostle Paul’s 2000 year old writings many would cheerfully discard

  3. Andrei says:

    Oh dear I thought I had lost my comment and retyped it only to find that it had posted

    The parpahrase with its modern word “Homosexual” is interesting – the idea of homosexuality is a fairly modern concept one entirely unknown to the Apostle Paul or the Fathers of the Church –

    In the original Koine the Apostle uses two words which in modern parlance have combined to become “homosexuals”. The translators of the original into the King James version translated them as “nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,”

    The Fathers who of course spoke the language of the originals as their mother tongue understood the two words to refer to the passive and active partners in homosexual relations

    Some modern scholars try to conceptualizse those two words as meaning somthing specific to the time in which they were written and not relevant to modern conceptions of sexuality – I personally think this is wishful thinking but it does illustrate how powerful the idea of forming a narrative is

    What the Apostle was informing against was putting anything of an ephemeral hedonistic nature ahead of living a Godly life – something that every man and woman who has ever lived has been guilty of at some time in their life

  4. Roj Blake says:

    Just one more hypocrite using religion as a cover for his bigotry.

    What does The Bible say about tattoos?

    Leviticus 19:28

    And I will bet london to a brick that is not the only biblical rule Folau breaks.

    Hypocrisy, Religion, and Bigotry – The Holy trinity of the sanctimonious.

  5. Mr E says:

    This is a contractual matter between Folau and his employer. If he has breached his contract there could be consequences. If he hasn’t – IMO there should be a minimum standard of engaging with team mates for him to consider the consequences of his views and comments. As a team player he needs to understand the impact of his views.

    If he has breached his contract there may be some legal considerations prior to considering action . You can’t contract over the law.

    I don’t want the silence of Folau. I don’t agree with his views, but if we disagree with any view, silence will do nothing to overcome these differences.

    I am far more concerned about speech freedoms that I am of Folau’s remarks.

  6. Murray Roxburgh says:

    This is small stuff, Israel Falau will not want for more rewarding financial opportunities with a lot less danger of physical damage, The ARU will be the biggest losers. Waratahs coach ex A B , Crusader and Canterbury mid field back Daryl Gibson was getting some great results from intelligent use of his talents such as his unequalled aerial skills.

    Andrew Little should be regarded with far more dismay as he pursues his Hate Speech Crusade (Deliberate use) where the State will be able to use such a demonstrably draconian anti democratic power to its advantage.

    Not so long ago the clearest example of free speech being a danger was an oft quoted danger of stampede from yelling FIRE” in a full theatre.
    Now alas it is a weapon of choice for the brain damaged socialist left to silence opposition that threatens their often subversive propaganda efforts.

  7. Andrei says:

    I love3 the way people who want to have a go a Christians mine the book of Leviticus for things to use to sneer

    Leviticus of course is part of the Pentateuch and a large part of it contains the Priestly purity code.

    If you were to read the New Testament, that part of the Holy Bible that is unique to Christianity then you would find that there waws a lot of discussion between the Apostles as to what parts of Jewish Law and customs applied to Christians of non Jewish heritage.

    Circumcission and dietary restrictions in particular came under scrutiny. You can read all about it in the Book of Acts and some of the Epistles, which might be more profitable to read for you than Leviticus

    As a matter of interest the Russian Church to which I belong teaches that you should not be tattooed but to be fair tattoos are not unknown among the Faithful of our church despite this

    But then again the fundamental thing about the Christian Faith is it allows for its followers to mistakes and get things wrong. It expects it to happen even But there is always redemption for those who repent.

    And of course is contained in Israel Folau’s communication. But of course nobody wants to actually read and discuss what he wrote in a rational adult manner – no they focus on two words “Homosexual” and “Hell” to pull him down (and in the process demonstrate their own bigotry, intolerance and lack of commitment to diversity, the very things they are acussing him of)

    That is the key to understanding the Christian Faith – Redemption

    In any case if you think 21st century westerners are any more sophisticated than the Hebrews of the Bronze age you are sadly deluded

    We have our vegans and those who believe gluten is deadly as well as sugar, salt, animal fat, yadda yadda yadda

    There are many in our lands so supertitious as to actually believe that dairy cows in the Taranaki are destroying the habitat of polar bears in the opposite hemisphere…. Weird I know but people are weird

  8. Roj Blake says:

    Andrei, I quoted from the OT because that was where the homophobic rugby player drew his inspiration. Please point me to a single quote from Jesus that condemns homosexuality and I may concede your point.

    Ooops, here it is Matt 5:18

    You seem to forget that Jesus was not a Christian, that he was a Jew, and his mission was to the Jews, not the Gentiles. He did not come to create a new religion.

    What you call “Christianity” was the invention of Paul, not Jesus.

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