Israel Folau hits back at gay hell criticism: 'I would sooner lose everything than abandon Jesus'Blog
Israel Folau, the Australian Christian rugby player under fire for saying gay people are going to hell, has given a lengthy defence of his faith and attacked Rugby Australia.
The Wallabies star received a torrent of criticism after responding to a comment on social media by saying God's plan for gay people was hell 'unless they repent of their sins and turn to God'. He then doubled down on his views, saying he was being persecuted for his faith.
Israel Folau is a committed Christian and one of world rugby's superstars.
Now in a lengthy op-ed for Players Voice Folau has given a robust defence of his comments.
He denied he was homophobic and refused to apologise for what he said, saying he was also a sinner and did not judge others.
'People's lives are not for me to judge. Only God can do that,' he wrote.
But he criticised Rugby Australia's chief executive Raelene Castle, saying she 'misrepresented my position and my comments, and did so to appease other people'.
'I told Raelene if she felt the situation had become untenable – that I was hurting Rugby Australia, its sponsors and the Australian rugby community to such a degree that things couldn't be worked through – I would walk away from my contract, immediately.'
However he added he did not want to do that, adding: '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.'
Folau also gave a lengthy account of his testimony, saying he grew up in a Mormon church before becoming a professional sports player and struggling with the fame and money that brought.
He said he became a Christian during that time, saying he has tried to live in 'God's footsteps ever since'.
'I read the Bible every day. 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,' he wrote.
'I believe that it is a loving gesture to share passages from the Bible with others. I do it all the time when people ask me questions about my faith or things relating to their lives, whether that's in-person or on my social media accounts.'
Addressing his response to a question about God's plan for gay people, Folau said: '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.'
He added: '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.
'I think of it this way: you see someone who is about to walk into a hole and have the chance to save him. He might be determined to maintain his course and doesn't want to hear what you have to say.
But if you don't tell him the truth, as unpopular as it might be, he is going to fall into that hole. What do you do?'
He went on to say he did not know what would happen to his career going forward but insisted he would not abandon his views.
'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.'
He concluded: 'I trust that He knows what is best for me. He knows the future. He knows how it is all meant to play out.
'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.'
SOURCE: Christian Today