Rugby star Israel Folau: I’m not homophobic but gay people are sinful
Israel Folau, who said gay people will go to hell “unless they repent of their sins,” has denied he is a bigot.
Folau, who plays for Australia’s international rugby union team, came under fire earlier this month after making the comment on his Instagram account.
A number of other rugby players – and Riverdale star KJ Apa – condemned his remark, but Folau remained defiant, even tweeting a cryptic Bible verse about ‘persecuted’ Christians.
Rugby Australia bosses decided to take no action against the star.
And writing on sport news site Players Voice – where he is a founding contributor – Folau rejected the idea that he was a homophobe.
Rather, he said, he was trying to save gay people from eternal damnation.
Folau, 29, wrote: “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?”
But the rugby player, who has played 62 times for Australia, denied he hated gay people.
He wrote: “Since my social media posts were publicised, 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 added: “I believe in inclusion. In my heart, I know I do not have any phobia towards anyone.”
He appeared to use the deeply flawed ‘hate the sin, love the sinner’ defence, before quickly pivoting to the ‘some people I know are gay’ excuse.
“One of God’s commandments is to, ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself.’ In other words, God loves each and every one of us. He just doesn’t love the sin we live in,” he said.
“I don’t expect everyone to believe what I believe. That goes for teammates, friends and even family members, some of whom are gay.”
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He had another message for gay people – and all sinners, because he’s inclusive – saying: “If you choose to believe in Him, repent, and be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the removal of your sins, you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
“That will enable you to live the life that God has called us to live.”
It seems that for him, that life involves telling gay people that they’re sinful.
But it’s fine, he added, because Jesus wants him to do it.
“At times, you can feel alone and down,” he wrote.
“But Jesus told us that when you stand up for Him in this world, you can expect backlash. I find peace in that.”