The Australian rugby union authorities have decided to end their contract with star center Israel Folau after he posted a message on Instagram urging sinners to “repent.”
In a statement on the decision, Rugby Australia declared that the 30-year-old, who is widely considered one of the best players in the world, “had committed a high-level breach of the Professional Players’ Code of Conduct warranting termination of his employment contract” by sharing the post.
The sporting authority noted that Folau had been previously warned not to share any offensive content after posting a similar message last year.
What does the Instagram post actually say?
The post, which is still live on Folau’s page, declares “WARNING,” before listing a number of sins which must be repented of, pending eternal judgment.
Referencing 1 Corinthians 6:9, the graphic lists “Drunks, homosexuals, drunks, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolaters,” before imploring “HELL AWAITS YOU,” and “REPENT! ONLY JESUS SAVES.”
The actual post, which has been liked over 40,000 times, can be seen below:
What does the biblical passage actually say?
1 Corinthians 6:9-10, which was written by the Apostle Paul as a warning to the wayward Church in Corinth, does caution that “men who have sex with men” will not “inherit the Kingdom of God.”
“Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God?” the passage reads. “Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
However, the following verse offers hope to those who have sinned against God.
“And that is what some of you were,” reads verse 11. “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
What was Folau’s response to being kicked out of the squad?
With the 2019 Rugby World cup looming, the decision could not have come at a worse time for the star player, who has made 73 appearances for his country.
However, instead of retracting his comments in hopes he might regain his place on the team, Folau has said he stands by “what the Bible says.”
“He’s a loving God and he wants people to turn away from what they’re living in and He’ll give them life,” the seasoned player told the Sydney Morning Herald Sunday after attending the Truth Of Jesus Christ Church in Sydney. “That’s the message that I’m trying to share, even though it comes across as harsh. I can’t change what the word of God says.”
Folau also expanded on his reasons for sharing the post.
“I share it with love,” he said. “I can see the other side of the coin where people’s reactions are the total opposite to how I’m sharing it.”
Regarding Rugby Australia’s decision, Folau said that while it is “obviously a decision that’s in the process,” he “believes in a God that’s in control of all things.”
“Whatever His will is, whether that’s to continue playing or not, I’m more than happy to do what He wants me to do,” he told the Herald.
“First and foremost, I live for God now,” he said. “Whatever He wants me to do, I believe His plans for me are better than whatever I can think. If that’s not to continue on playing, so be it.”
“Obviously I love playing footy,” he assured, “and if it goes down that path I’ll definitely miss it. But my faith in Jesus Christ is what comes first.”
Many of Folau’s supporters have suggested that he is being persecuted for his faith — something which the player himself said that all Christians should expect to happen if they hold fast to the truth of the Bible.
“As we heard today, those that live for Christ will be persecuted for his name,” Folau declared Sunday. “So for me, [the reaction] wasn’t a surprise.”
With that being said, Folau noted that he has “love towards everyone that might be saying negative things,” adding that he “chooses to love them because God loves me.”