Israel Folau wants to make it clear: we’re all sinners, not just gay people.
On the PlayersVoice website, Folau defended his position on homosexuality, responding to intense criticism following his statement on social media last week that God’s plan for gay people was “hell”. He also sought to correct what he saw as misrepresentations of a meeting held between Folau, Rugby Australia chief Raelene Castle and the head of NSW Rugby, Andrew Hore last week.
“I have sinned many times in my life. I take responsibility for those sins and ask for forgiveness through repentance daily.” — Israel Folau
In his explanation, Folau describes his personal faith in Jesus Christ and his conversion from Mormonism.
While mainstream media has picked up on Folau’s suggestion that he would walk away from Rugby rather than backing down from his beliefs, here are the things they missed:
Israel Folau knows he isn’t perfect and that he, too, must repent.
“I have sinned many times in my life. I take responsibility for those sins and ask for forgiveness through repentance daily,” Folau wrote in his opening lines.
“I would sooner lose everything – friends, family, possessions, my football career, the lot – and still stand with Jesus.”
When Folau left the Mormon faith in 2009, he said “it left a huge void in my life.” The temptations of being a rising star from the age of 17 left him feeling like he “was losing control of who I was and what I wanted to be. It was all ego and no humility.”
Folau wrote that when he left the NRL for the AFL he went from the top to the bottom. At the bottom, he found Jesus.
“I started attending a new church where I experienced God’s love for the first time in my life.”
“[God] had to break me down in order to build me up again into the person He wanted me to be. It all suddenly made sense.”
Jesus is more important to Israel than football.
According to Folau, he would “walk away from my contract immediately” if asked.
“God can see from beginning to end. I can’t.”
“This is not about money or bargaining power or contracts. It’s about what I believe in and never compromising that, because my faith is far more important to me than my career and always will be,” he wrote.
“I would sooner lose everything – friends, family, possessions, my football career, the lot – and still stand with Jesus, than have all of those things and not stand beside Him.”
Israel is like every other Christian trying to live according to God’s plan in the Bible.
“I read the Bible every day,” writes Folau. “It gives me a sense of peace I have not been able to find in any other area of my life. It gives me direction. It answers my questions.
“I believe the Bible is the truth and sometimes the truth can be difficult to hear.”
He says his response on social media to the question posed to him about God’s plan for gay people was based on his understanding of the Bible, and specifically 11 Corinthians 6: 9-10:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor the drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
“I know a lot of people will find that difficult to understand, but I believe the Bible is the truth and sometimes the truth can be difficult to hear,” he said.
“God can see from beginning to end. I can’t. There’s a big element of trust in that and sometimes you have to give up the things you really want in order to please God.
“At times, you can feel alone and down. But Jesus told us that when you stand up for Him in this world, you can expect backlash. I find peace in that.
“As testing as it can be standing up for what you believe in, the Bible tells us it will be worth it in the end.”