Rugby Player Raises Hell
And the Mob Lost its Mind
What’s the best punishment for someone who says the unrepentant will go to hell?
Yes, you read that right. How should we penalize somebody who says such a hurtful thing that hell exists and that some choose to go there?
That question is being asked in earnest Down Under right now. And Stream readers can be an enormous help in answering.
Into the Scrum
Here’s the story. Israel Folau is a Rugby player for Australia’s Wallabies. By all accounts his performance is unparalleled, “one of the code’s most marketable players.”
… I was asked a question by somebody about what God’s plan is for gay people.
My response to the question is what I believe God’s plan is for all sinners, according to my understanding of my Bible teachings, specifically 1 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 do not know the person who asked the question, but that didn’t matter. I believed he was looking for guidance and I answered him honestly and from the heart. 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.
Folau said that God’s plan for (practicing) gay people was “Hell … unless they repent of their sins and turn to God” (ellipsis original).
Hell for the unrepentant is also God’s plan for Stream authors — and, yes, readers, too. This news would not seem to be controversial because this has been the well known Christian teaching since its inception. The news shouldn’t be painful, either, because repentance is free and easy. And recommended.
Even more calming is the realization you do not have to believe anybody goes to hell. You are free to dismiss and ignore those people like Folau who say hell is real. There is thus no good reason to become upset by anybody who calls for repentance.
Still, some cannot bear to hear that hell exists, especially when the news comes from a celebrity.
The media reacted to Folau’s “homophobic” remarks as if they were being chased by a machete-wielding maniac. The Guardian reported:
Under pressure from sponsors such as Qantas and anxious to defend policies of inclusiveness, Rugby Australia chief-executive Raelene Castle and NSW Waratahs counter-part Andrew Hore summoned Folau to a meeting to discuss the fallout of what has been interpreted by many as an appalling anti-gay slur.
Fellow rugby player Brad Weber was none too happy with Folau. He tweeted, “To think that I play against someone that says they’ll go to Hell for being gay disgusts me.” Weber might be disgusted, but that is not what Folau said or believes, and it is not what Christianity teaches.
Weber’s comments make it obvious what Folau’s real crime was, however. It was not in saying the unrepentant go to hell, which is an old truth. There was his implied disapproval of homosexual acts.
Disapproval of homosexuality is now forbidden in the West. This is why Rugby officials and Wallabies sponsor Qantas tried to force an apology from Folau.
Apologize for what? For his thought crime, of course. For causing “offense” to people who sought out the experience of being offended. Nobody was forced to go to Folau’s Instagram page. Nobody had to listen to him.
Punish? Sanction? For merely holding a common religious view? Why, yes, of course. Everybody’s expectation was that Folau should and would be punished.
Folau cheated his would-be judges, though. He called their bluff and said “he was ready to walk away from his contract immediately” because “my faith is far more important to me than my career and always will be.”
This was not the mewling subservience Rugby Australia expected. They were evidently making so much money off of Folau they backed down, requiring only that Folau think about what he did.