Israel Folau outlines his beliefs, responds to criticism in new column

Aussie Rugby star Israel Folau has published an article in response to backlash to his recent social media comments, where he said gay people would go to “hell” if they didn’t repent for their sins.

In an essay for Players Voice, the Wallaby begins by stating that he believes others lives are not his to judge.

“I have sinned many times in my life. I take responsibility for those sins and ask for forgiveness through repentance daily,” Folau writes.

I understand a lot of people won’t agree with some of the things I’m about to write. That’s absolutely fine. In life, you are allowed to agree to disagree. But I would like to explain to you what I believe in, how I arrived at these beliefs and why I will not compromise my faith in Jesus Christ, which is the cornerstone of every single thing in my life.”

Folau recounts the day he posted the controversial comment on his Instagram page, after being asked 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.

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?”

Folau also recounted his experience meeting with the Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle and his team’s CEO, Waratah’s general manager Andrew Hore – a meeting which resulted in no disciplinary action for Folau.

“During the meeting I told them it was never my intention to hurt anyone with the Instagram comment, but that I could never shy away from who I am, or what I believe.

They explained their position and talked about external pressure from the media, sponsors and different parts of the community, which I understand.

I acknowledge Raelene and Andrew have to run things in a way that appeals broadly to their executive, fans and sponsors, as well as its players and staff. It is a business.”

Folau closes the article denying suggestions he is a “homophobic and bigoted”.

“I fronted the cover of the Star Observer magazine to show my support for the Bingham Cup, which is an international gay rugby competition for both men and women. I believe in inclusion. In my heart, I know I do not have any phobia towards anyone.

With everything that has been said and written, many people over the past six months have told me they think I am wrong, either to my face or via social media. I won’t to go into the specifics – some of it has been pretty heavy, and from people close to me – but they let it be known that their views differed from mine. I don’t have any issue with this.

Every individual in this world is different and we have all experienced things that have shaped us in unique ways. I don’t expect everyone to believe what I believe. That goes for teammates, friends and even family members, some of whom are gay. I don’t pretend to have all the answers in life. It can be difficult making the right decisions.”

Folau’s original comments have been receiving a mixed response, with Dr Kerryn Phelps describing the move as “silly” while Australian Conservatives’ Lyle Shelton suggests this is a gateway to the banning of the bible.

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