Editorial | Take responsibility for your homophobia, Israel Folau

Aussie rugby star Israel Folau believes that stating that gay people are going to hell is not in the least bit homophobic. He’s dead wrong.

The 29-year-old Wallabies star sparked controversy recently when he said on Instagram that gay people would go to hell, “unless they repent their sins and turn to God”.

Unfortunately, Rugby Australia has decided not to sanction him, claiming that he is a “good role model”, despite his post violating the organisation’s values and social media policy.

Folau has now written a truly offensive and patronising piece for PlayersVoice trying to justify his anti-gay views.

Titled I’m a sinner too, Folau says: “People’s lives are not for me to judge. Only God can do that.” He then proceeds to judge away.

“I will not compromise my faith in Jesus Christ, which is the cornerstone of every single thing in my life,” he writes.

Folau cites 1 Corinthians 6: 9-10, which condemns “men who practice homosexuality” as equivalent to idolaters, adulterers, thieves, drunkards, swindlers, all of whom will not “inherit the kingdom of God”.

Folau argues that it is this biblical passage that regrettably forces him to remind gay people that unless they repent, i.e. essentially stop being who they are, they are going to hell.

He continues, with an impressive lack of insight: “It has been suggested that I am homophobic and bigoted and that I have a problem with gay people. This could not be further from the truth.”

Folau’s stance is a common one among many religious homophobes. They shrug off any responsibility for their homophobia and bigotry, claiming that they are sadly helpless in the whole tragic matter.

Folau explains that this is actually all okay because even he himself has sinned, and that we can all be forgiven if we simply repent. Stop stealing or drugging or lying – or being gay – and it’ll be fine.

The glaring problem in his flawed argument is that being gay is not a behavior, like gambling, drinking, stealing (or being a homophobe, for that matter).

Being gay is an innate and intimate part of who gay people are. It is intrinsically tied in with who they are attracted to, who they love and how they feel. It is not a choice. It also does not affect anyone else. It does not diminish or harm others and it is not equivalent to being a thief or a swindler. To suggest otherwise, regardless of your holy sources, is de facto homophobia.

Until religious bigots acknowledge this, and until they accept that the understanding of the Bible has and continues to evolve over time and cultures, they will continue to spew their dangerous hate at us (I shouldn’t have to detail how selective we are in deciding which Biblical rules and condemnations to heed).

It’s time to stop being a coward, Israel Folau. Enough with hiding behind your Bible and your God. Admit that you choose to be a homopohobe.

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