Folau cries foul

Israel Folau has lost his Rugby Australia contract because of a homophobic tweet/post. He stated that gays will burn in hell unless they repented. He says Rugby Australia should allow him to express his religious beliefs without any consequences.

No one is disputing Folau’s right to practice Christianity. I think Australia would still see itself as a “Christian” nation. We just elected a (practising) Pentecostal Prime Minister. What people question is Folau’s right to make homophobic comments.

I strongly support freedom of speech. I belong to the “I may not agree with what you say but I will die to preserve your right to say it” school. This does not mean I agree, condone or support Folau’s comments or like comments. In fact, the opposite is true.

All rights come with responsibilities. Exercising rights without regard to sensitivities or with disrespect will always attract consequences. Sometimes the consequences are expected, sometimes, as in this case, the consequences are unwelcome. Everyone needs to act responsibly when exercising their rights.

For example, just before Easter this year, many Christians were upset by an advertisement for a Melbourne hotel that read “This weekend Jesus got hammered, and so should you at ….” A threatened rosary circle outside the hotel saw them withdraw the advertisement.

This is to be contrasted with the Christians and right-to-lifers who picket outside abortion clinics and upset the women attending those clinics. While they are free to express their views, they are not entitled to a “free” and vulnerable audience. This is no different to the behaviour of the Westboro Baptist Church protesting at the funerals of servicemen and women. Free speech but no free audience

The views of Folau and those like him puzzles me. I too, am a Christian. I too have studied the scriptures.

Most Christians believe in the Trinity. This is the concept that God is three persons in one; the father, the son and the Holy Spirit. All separate manifestations yet all the same being.

The Trinity is one of God’s mysteries. It is an example of God’s creativity. It demonstrates how God’s thinking is so different to our own, such that his very being and form is beyond our rational minds.

How is it that Christians who embrace this seemingly impossible mystery and wonder cannot accept that the same God created men who love men and women who love women? Yes, the majority of humanity is heterosexual but do we deign to limit God’s mystery and creativity in believing there is a “right” sexuality and a “wrong” sexuality, when we are all God’s creations?

Can heterosexuality be “right” and “moral” when we consider its shameful record of domestic violence, child abuse and infidelity?

Christians believe that God so loved humanity that he sent his son Jesus to die on a cross. Christians believe that Jesus was both God and man, divine and mortal. Another seemingly impossible mystery.

As such at Easter, we remember that Jesus experienced torture, humiliation, pain and death by suffocation as we would experience these things. He did that for us. Such was his love for us.

There is no greater love than to lay down your life for another.

Yet these same Christians cannot accept that a God of infinite love for humanity would not rejoice in the love of a man for another man or a woman for another woman or their expression of that love. A God of love is a God for everyone, not just heterosexuals.

After all isn’t love the most important thing?

The New Testament tells us that Jesus came for the marginalised. He spent time with lepers, tax collectors and adulterers. His disciples were humble fishermen. He scorned the righteous, the rich and the elite. Remember “Blessed are those persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Is this the Jesus that Folau and his Church worship?

There is not a single mention of homosexuality in the Gospels. Jesus spoke on many subjects but not this one. Does this not tell us something?

John’s Gospel includes the story of Jesus interrupting the stoning of a woman. She was an adulteress. He addressed the crowd with these words “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” On reflection, the crowd dispersed.

Are not homosexuals marginalised in our society? Were they not recently humiliated and distressed by a plebiscite to determine whether they could marry? How would Jesus treat them? Would he publicly rebuke and condemn them?

Folau is no doubt a product of his Church’s teachings. He has paid a high price for his beliefs. What price has his Church paid for disseminating such hatred?

We are critical of Islamic fundamentalists and the hatred they inculcate in their young. But we should have the same concern for Christian fundamentalists. What are they teaching their children?

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

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Mark J Attard

Lawyer with varied interests including politics, technology, religion, business management, literature, coaching, social justice, sport, education and humour.