Unless you follow international rugby, you may not have heard of Israel Folau. He’s a super-star Australian rugby player who is also a Christian. But it looks like his career as a rugby player may be over. Why? He committed the ‘crime’ of expressing his biblical beliefs on social media, and the politically-correct elite were outraged.
We should all be troubled by this development. But first, some disclaimers. I accept that his postings were rather blunt. I also accept that social media may not be the best forum for these things – I myself keep my own posting mostly to family news. And I accept that employers may have the right to certain expectations of high-profile employees when it comes to social media.
But nevertheless, Israel Folau did nothing more than express the essential message of the gospel: that without repentance sinners face the reality of hell, but there is eternal life and forgiveness for those who turn to Jesus Christ.
Of course, Israel Folau broke one of the unspoken laws of modern progressive society – he actually specified some of the sins that lead sinners to hell. In amongst the adulterers, and fornicators, and drunks, and idolaters, and thieves, he named ‘homosexuals’. I wonder, if he had left out homosexuals, would there have been the backlash?
Israel Folau’s post was based on the Bible (1 Corinthians 6). This means it’s possible to get sacked in Australia for expressing the Bible’s teaching. And that’s why it should be deeply troubling to any believer throughout the western world.
The double standards are also alarming. In response to Israel Folau, English rugby player James Haskell tweeted, ‘You are spreading hate. You are an unreal player, but a [expletive] misinformed bigot.’ Will James Haskell face sanction for offending millions of Christians by referring to the Bible’s teaching as hate-filled bigotry? No, he will be applauded.
This is the world we live in. It may be happening on the other side of the globe, but it could equally happen here. However, we must not let it intimidate us. We must continue to speak out – with wisdom, grace and love, yes – but also with courage, steadfastness and fortitude in these troubling times.