I’d like to talk about Israel Folau, and yet not really talk about Israel Folau. Rugby Australia yesterday determined that he had committed a high level breach of their code of conduct, so that has put him back into the news.
For those who haven’t followed (or even noticed), Izzy quoted a Bible passage on his instagram account (1 Corinthians 6:9b-10) which states “Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” He used a paraphrase version of these verses. And he is in trouble because homosexuality is one of the list of sins here.
There are a few issues that I think we need to get clear in our minds as we think about this, and not just get all huffy and puffy and blustery about it.
- For several years now I have seen many Christians quoting parts of the Koran, and telling people on social media and in emails about what Muslims believe (sometimes accurately, sometimes inaccurately), in order to highlight social unpopular beliefs and turn public opinion against Muslims. Anyone who has done this, or enjoyed this, has no right to complain when a Christian gets in trouble for using social media to quote socially unpopular Christian beliefs. If you have been involved in forwarding, repeating and spreading things about Muslims to make them unpopular, don’t complain about how Izzy has been treated now.
- Too many Christians try to fight social and political battles instead of pointing people to Jesus. So much of what some Christians are on about is trying to persuade people to adopt a Christian morality or lifestyle, without getting them to accept Jesus as Saviour and Lord. I understand that while it would be a much nicer society if we all lived by rules which are closer to God’s intention, it doesn’t actually do anyone any favours to give them the impression that its behaviour not faith which makes a difference to God.
- Related to that, too many Christians try to cling to the notion of Australia as a Christian nation, or to Australia’s Christian heritage. While the first is wrong, the second is misguided in its application. Australia has inherited a particularly English form of Christianity in its social and legal fabric, that is true. But it was never a Christian country, because the majority of Australians have never had their faith in Jesus. Sure, it used to be a lot more common for Australians to attend church, and profess belief in God. Almost all Australians did that at some points in our earlier (colonial) history. But this is different from people having faith in Jesus. There are plenty of Australians today who culturally, and habitually, act like Christians in many ways, but who do not have faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, nor follow Jesus other than out of habit.
Christians need to remember, and keep at the front of our minds, that it is Jesus who matters. We need to explain to people that Jesus is Lord and Saviour, and that unless we cling to him, we are going to face the eternal judgement of God. Izzy did this in his personal comments with regard to the Bible verse quoted on his instagram. Is this clear in what you say or think about this issue, and many others?