Israel Folau can have his beliefs. People have a right to disagree

Rugby ball in front of goal posts
Image: iStock

Wallabies player, Israel Folau, has caused a storm after he posted on Instagram that gay people that don’t repent will go to hell. This comes less than twelve months since he expressed his view that marriage should be between a man and woman on Twitter. Rugby Australia are not planning to sack Folau, but will encourage him to be mindful of divisive comments on social media in the future. According to The Australian, Qantas and Swisse have threatened to withdraw sponsorship from Rugby Australia in revolt to Folau’s comments.

Here’s my take.

I actually agree with Rugby Australia for not sacking or suspending Folau.

I also defend the right of Qantas and Swisse to pull their sponsorship as a form of revolt. They can put their money where they like.

What Folau said would have hit a lot of people hard. The relationship between LGBTQ+ people and Christians has been rocky in the past to say the least.

While religious belief and participation is shown to be beneficial to people’s mental well – being, this can’t always be said for LGBTQ+ people. In fact, a number of LGBTQ+ people end up abandoning their religion because of the conflict between their sexuality and their religious affiliation.

Some attitudes and actions of some Christian (and other religious) organisations have been downright harmful.

So – called ‘conversion’ or ‘reparative’ therapy; which is thankfuly becoming rarer, is known to be harmful and does not work. Multiple medical and psychological bodies around the world have publicly rejected the idea that sexual orientation can and should be changed. Some of them have also warned about potentially damaging effects of the practice. Conflict between sexual orientations and religious affiliation has also shown to be a risk factor to poor mental health and suicidal thoughts among LGBTQ+ people.

 

With all that said, Folau should be debated, not penalised or silenced.

People caould argue, what I said and linked above; that most medical bodies around the developed world reject the notion that sexual orientation can or should be changed. They also argue that sexual orientation can’t be chosen.

Christians also have different interpretations of the so – called ‘clobber passages’ in both the Old an$ New Testament that are often used as a justifications for condemning gay people.

Over the years, people have strongly argued that the bible doesn’t condemn LGBTQ+ people or same – sex relationships.

Chill and hear me out. The most common arguments of these Christians, sometimes referred to as ‘Side A’ Christians, are that the passages condemn same – sex acts (often committed by men), that were not consensual, were often committed against children or was committed as a ritual in idol worship (Corinthians, in particular, did worship Aphrodite).

Second common argument, which is kind of related, is the controversy over the interpretations of some of the Hebrew and Greek.

I understand why people are angry and hurt by Folau’s comments. I feel for people who have been damaged by the actions of certain Christians. However, I don’t think censoring or punishing people like Folau will ultimately do anyone any good.

Let Folau and those like him to have their say, then non – Christians and Christians alike can debate it out, then leave it alone. The LGBTQ+ community can’t be seen censoring people. Not after the hard – won battle of same – sex marriage in Australia.

 

 

 

 

 

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