Israel Folau is considered by most sport commentators as one of the best Rugby players in the world.
He currently represents his country, Australia, with pride and commitment - always giving his best.
His skill and awareness on the field is sometimes breathtaking. (Please read on...)
Israel Folau is also a Christian - a Bible believing Christian to be more precise. As such, he knows his Scriptures and what those Scriptures teach ethically. Therefore, he is acutely aware of what is right and wrong according to what he reads (and believes) in the Sacred Word.
Israel Folau believes greed is wrong. He believes stealing is wrong; he believes lying is wrong and he believes witchcraft is wrong. Israel also believes certain sexual practices are wrong as clearly set out in the Bible (Christians, until very recently, have been unified in their ethical views on sexuality).
In response to a question on social media recently, Israel Folau responded with an answer that is mainstream evangelical. It was also born of love, NOT hate (he explains why in a recently published article).
The secular media response about the nature of his (Biblical) answer has been broadly intolerant and somewhat disturbing.
Because a fundamental belief of the Christian faith is that God has set a Day in which He will judge the world – it’s called ‘Judgement Day’. Those who will be qualified as ‘OK’ and ‘not OK’ has been known for over 2000 years (long before Israel Folau was born). It's worth noting that Israel Folau will not be doing any judging – because judgement will be based on a person’s adherence (or not) to God’s standards (divine law) as well a person’s adherence (or not) to what his/her own value system (in light of the natural law he/she was born with). God will be the only judge; not the media; not Israel Folau.
Because a fundamental belief of the Christian faith is that no-one is ‘OK’ on the basis of their own moral adherence. In fact, Israel knows that he doesn’t make it either! He completely ‘gets it’ that he is ‘stuffed’ when that Day arrives.
STOP PRESS: Apart from one significant (fundamental) aspect of the Christian faith and it’s this: Jesus Christ came into the world to save ‘sinners’ (read Israel Folau). Folau has placed his faith (trust) in Jesus – who, on the cross, paid the massive sin costs for Folau. Folau 'gets it' and wants others to 'get it' too.
Because the Terry Kennedy’s (Sky sports radio personality) and the other sport commentators of this world quite freely cast their own (secular) condemnatory judgement and intolerance towards a person who has a deep religious faith. (Sports commentators, generally, are not too knowledgeable when it comes to theology). Israel Folau, as a citizen of his country, has a fundamental right to his opinion(s) or does he?
Apparently not. Israel was summoned to a high-level meeting with Rugby authorities where he offered to stand down if harm was being done to the code. The offer was rejected; however, Israel has since claimed he has been misrepresented by these same authorities.
Which now brings us a recent reply, by this Rugby sportsman, via an article he wrote called “I’m a Sinner Too.” It’s worth reading because he finally gets a chance to answer a lot of harsh criticism directed to him and about him. I commend it to you.
But I’m not quite finished.
Because there are actually many Bible believing Christians who play elite sport; so I ask, where has been the support from these believers of Israel’s right to voice his faith beliefs? The silence has been deafening and disturbing.
Christian sportspeople (Rugby, Rugby League, Soccer, AFL, Netball, Baseball etc.) need to act. They urgently need to arrange high level meetings with their sports authorities (behind closed doors) in which they discuss THEIR need for tolerance, understanding and support. Inclusion must mean religious inclusion.
And finally, dare I even mention the many Muslim sports people who also believe in a Judgement Day?
Read Israel Folau's personal reply HERE.