In all honesty, I had the above headline written a few months back. I scribbled it in my notebook that I carry around with me and had planned to sit down and scratch something out when the furore died down.
That furore, was the one involving New South Wales Waratah and Wallaby, Israel Folau and his comments in regards to the homosexual community. His words were the product of his interpretation of the sacred text that forms the basis of his religious beliefs and the historical stance of the Church of which he is a member.
As the days ticked by, the desire to write about his comments waned. There didn’t seem to be much point. Part of me felt the embarrassment caused to the Australian Rugby Union, its corporate partners and himself, might be enough to get the dynamic athlete to see the error of his ways.
How wrong I was and thus, the headline is back and the passion with which I write this, two-fold.
As it stands, he has commented again, through twitter. Using a link to an external source, biblical quotations and subjective language, Folau has restated his clear dislike for both the acts of and the participants in homosexual relationships.
First time around, I had a real issue with his sentiment, but more specifically the words he chose to express it. He claimed that homosexuals would at some point need to ‘repent their sins and turn to God’.
Simply, if given the chance, I would have asked big, bad Izzy about the members of the homosexual community sitting in my Church last weekend; those already in a close relationship with God.
Many people in the journalist fraternity, colleagues of mine from the Education sector, nurses, physios, solicitors and sportspeople have made peace with their deity, whatever form that may take and live feeling assured and protected, as they work for peace and justice.
Israel Folau’s suggestion that they were all living a life of sin; full of depravity and perversion doesn’t sit well with me and I’m not sure exactly what he would like those people to do in order to “turn to God”. Knowing them, I think they already have and they seem like better human beings than a narrow minded rugby player.
Of course, freedom of speech and the right to express a view would become the crux of much of the debate around his comments. And sure, just as I have the right to express my view in this column, Folau has a right to present his viewpoint.
However, the man should face the music when a significant percentage of the public take him to task for comments that are way out of step with community expectations.
In short, say what you like, as foolish as it may be. Yet expect the repercussions. We have just as much right to respond to your nonsense Izzy, as you did to concoct it in the first place.
I can’t imagine what Folau would say to a homosexual team mate. Talk about team spirit. In his insular little world, it might be hard to remember what life is like elsewhere.
This time around, Izzy has labelled homosexuality as a perversion but been kind enough to pray for those afflicted. It isn’t the praying that interests me, it is the judgement.
I remember seeing a terrific Rowan Atkinson skit many years ago where he played the role of the devil and greeted different groups of people at the front door, welcoming them and confirming their poor choices in life.
It got me thinking about Israel Folau, homosexuals, heterosexuals and all of us when our time comes. Maybe we will drift off to some cloudy oasis and be met at the door by a crusty looking old man with a clipboard.
What if the maître d says, “Sorry all you gay people, we tried to tell you. You can’t come in.” I’ll be stunned and saddened.
However, until we all get there and hear it first hand, we will never know.
And that is indeed the point. Perhaps in the meantime, Folau should focus a little less on judging others, keep his mouth shut and play football.