By Spencer D Gear PhD
(photo Israel Folau, courtesy France 24)
A blogger stated: ‘Folau is not being persecuted for his beliefs but for using his position within Rugby Union and Rugby Union owned and operated venues for propagating hate speach (sic)’.
Where did he get the idea that Folau used his position in Rugby Australia’s (RA) ‘owned and operated venues for propagating hate speech’? Can he prove this statement? Folau made the post in his personal Instagram account and not from an RA venue?
ASICS, one of Folau’s sponsors, dropped his sponsorship, stating (according to The Age): ‘While Israel Folau is entitled to his personal views, some of those expressed in recent social media posts are not aligned with those of ASICS. As such, our partnership with Israel has become untenable and he will no longer represent ASICS as a brand ambassador’.
Only a few days before the 2019 Australian federal election, the Folau issue and what he said led to a ‘spat’ between PM Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, according to the Fairfax Canberra Times:
Mr Morrison accused Mr Shorten of a “cheap shot” over the question on Tuesday and made it clear he did not believe that gay people would go to hell, one day after giving a less direct answer to the question….
“No, I do not believe that,” Mr Morrison said in a statement….
The matter of personal belief arose on Monday when a journalist put the following question to Mr Morrison: “What’s your belief, do gay people go to hell?”
Mr Morrison replied: “I support the law of the country and I always don’t mix my religion with politics and my faith with politics”….
[Mr Shorten said], “I cannot believe that the Prime Minister has not immediately said that gay people will not go to hell.
When Mr Shorten was asked if he believed gay people would go to hell, he said: “No, I don’t believe gay people, because they’re gay, will go to hell. I don’t need a law to tell me that. I don’t believe it”.
1. They were religious statements
Photo: The image Folau posted on Instagram was accompanied by direct scripture quotes. (Supplied: @izzyfolau)
That is an image of the Instagram statement made by champion Rugby Union player, Israel Folau, that has gotten him into the hullabaloo with RA, some rugby players, and especially the mass media.
Folau is an evangelical Christian born in Minto, NSW to Tongan parents. Minto is 38 km south-west of the Sydney CBD, in the local government area of the City of Campbelltown.
It is claimed the Wallabies fullback ‘refused to delete his controversial Instagram post to save his rugby career during his code-of-conduct hearing with Rugby Australia’. He recently signed a contract that was worth $4 million over four years.
The Anglican bishop of Grafton, the Rt Rev Dr Murray Harvey disagrees with Pogi: He “branded the religious statements of Australian rugby union player Israel Folau as hate speech”.
1.1 Folau’s quote from Scripture
What Folau said was essentially straight from the Bible:
“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 practise homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV).
He did not state it on the rugby field but in a public post on his personal Instagram account, a public medium outside of rugby. Why have the media taken ONE sin from the list – homosexuality – and excluded all of the others mentioned in Folau’s post and in the Christian Scriptures?
1.2 Where have the other sinners gone?
I haven’t read of the sexually immoral or idolaters kicking a stink about what Folau wrote. The adulterers, thieves, and greedy have been strangely silent. As for the drunks and swindlers, they have zipped their lips.
(image courtesy Clipart Library)
Thieves, atheists and idolaters, from my observation, have gone hush-hush in this chain of events.
1.2.1 Verbal abusers and profane language
What about revilers? That’s not a common word today. In English, synonyms include abuser, knocker [informal], rubbisher, slanderer, bad-mouth, curse and swear at.
A reviler is a person who uses words to damage, control, or insult someone’s character or reputation. Today we would call a reviler a verbal abuser. Reviler is a multi-purpose word that is used in the Bible to describe all manner of verbal sin, such as slander, angry outbursts, and foul language.
The NIV translates ‘revilers’ as ‘slanderers’ and the NLT provides the meaning of ‘abusive’.
To swear, slander, verbally abuse, have angry outbursts, and use blankety blank language is such a normal part of Aussie conversation that the folks who commit these sins laugh them off as, ‘She’ll be right mate. You’re a fuddy-duddy old square who needs to lighten up if you object’.
In the NT Greek, a ‘reviler’ is loidoros (singular), ‘reviler, abusive person’, as in 1 Cor 5:11 and 6:10. First Peter 3:9 (ERV) uses a variation of this word that gets to the heart of the meaning,
‘Don’t do wrong to anyone to pay them back for doing wrong to you. Or don’t insult anyone to pay them back for insulting you. But ask God to bless them. Do this because you yourselves were chosen to receive a blessing.
However, FindLaw Australia confirmed:
In a day and age where swearing has become so commonplace, that most people wouldn’t even flinch when someone drops a swear word, it’s remarkable to think that Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria all have laws regulating offensive language. The issue has received some prominence lately when a football player fronted court for offensive language. So if someone is about to go on a verbal blue streak in public, be careful, you may be in breach of the law….
Not only are the penalties for offensive language similar in Queensland and Victoria, but the definitions as well. Generally speaking, offensive language is considered as:
• indecent, and
While Folau has been crushed by RA, the mass and social media in raising the issue of homosexuals going to hell, why have all these other sins been overlooked and only one sin has been reefed out of the list?
1.3 Able to express offensive opinions
In his assessment of the Folau situation, Akos Balogh has raised the issue of how all people ought to be able to express offensive opinions. He drew attention to some comments from the homosexual community’s gay activist, Dawn Grace-Cohen, who wrote for Fairfax:
We all need to skill up to create a new world where everyone gets a fair go. When we are not demanding compliance with our own view, many Australians habitually attack a person with an alternative view, rather than countering with a reasoned argument….
We mock rather than debate. We use slut-shaming or racist, ageist and sexist slurs. We don’t listen for the grain of truth in the opposition’s perspective because we cannot bear the discomfort of there being no easy answer….
Then let him [Folau] keep his job, with considerable support laid on to help him explore what inclusion means.
(Photograph Israel Folau, courtesy familyvoice.com.au)
It is Balogh’s view that Australia needs a new conversation about real ‘diversity’, ‘inclusion’ and ‘tolerance’ in the workplace, especially. This call is urgent because it is not long since RA could have argued that its actions regarding Folau would have been easy to argue as RA “didn’t show enough ‘tolerance’ or ‘inclusiveness’ towards Folau’s ‘diverse’ religious viewpoint”.
Instead, “‘inclusivity’ has now come to mean ‘anyone who doesn’t agree with us is excluded’, and ‘tolerance’ means ‘you must not criticise certain people or practices’. ‘Diversity’ refers to anything except viewpoint diversity”.
What type of public square do Australians want? (1) The ‘sacred public square’ where one religion is preferred over all others; (2) The ‘naked public square’ which removes all religion; and (3) the ‘civil public square
where people of all faiths and none, are free to enter into public life on the basis of their faith (or lack of it). The crucial qualifier in this model is that they do so within an agreed framework of what is just and fair for everybody else too. A good understanding of rights, responsibilities and respect are essential qualities for such a model to work. The Israel Folau case would test such a framework.
With the Folau case, it is Balogh’s observation that Australia is moving to ‘the naked public square’.
2. Media promotion of homosexuality: Liberalising attitudes
Take a read of these headlines and the content of the articles:
“Gay rugby union club Sydney Convicts condemns ‘offensive’ Folau social media post” (ABC News, Brisbane Qld, 7 May 2019).
‘NRL rule out Folau return over ‘disrespectful’ anti-gay posts’ (SBS News, 12 April 2019).
‘Israel Folau launches another anti-gay social media blitz’ (ESPN, 11 April 2019).
‘Australian rugby star Israel Folau shares more vile anti-LGBT social media posts’ (Attitude Newsletter, 10 April 2019).
It is politically correct to promote homosexuality in the current Australian political, mass media, social media and everyday environment. To declare homosexuality a sin calls for an immediate labelling of the person as homophobic, which many times is an Ad Hominem (Circumstantial) logical fallacy.
It is erroneous reasoning because it suggests Folau’s argument is biased by his predisposition that unforgiven homosexuals and other sinners go to hell. This is an invalid argument as it does not logically argue the case for homosexuality making a person homophobic.
The consequence of homophobic accusations is that there is a ‘coming out’ by prominent people such as Senator Penny Wong, retired Senator Bob Brown, rising Australian tennis star Casey Dellacqua, and Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce.
Phillip Ayoub and Jeremiah Garretson in their research reached the conclusion that
researchers, advocates, and policymakers, and producers should take into account how cultural contact through media can shape opinions and values, even across national borders. Television, film, radio and the Internet remain powerful socializing mechanisms through which younger generations come into contact with previously invisible minorities.
This confirms the power of the mass media in promoting social change. I see it regularly when I view TV news and current affairs.
Homosexuals and gay supporters were outed when Australia voted for homosexual marriage. According to the Australian Government, Attorney-General’s Department (2017), ‘From 9 December 2017, sex or gender no longer affects the right to marry under Australian law and same-sex marriage became legal in Australia’.
This is how the House of Representatives looked after the ‘marriage equality’ (homosexual marriage) vote:
Photo: Nationals MPs David Littleproud and Keith Pitt (left) were among just four MPs to vote no on the same-sex marriage bill. (ABC News: Marco Catalano)
It became evident this was not an issue of diversity or tolerance but of censorship. The other sins in Folau’s post have been censored by the media to highlight Folau’s alleged homophobia.
The ‘progressive’ and trendy left of politics and media have bulldozed this pro-homosexual agenda into the public square. People like this writer will be regarded – falsely – as homophobic because of my support for biblical Christianity’s views on who will enter God’s kingdom (1 Cor 6:9-11).
2.1 Support for Folau
Eternal destinies as articulated in the Bible are not ‘hate speech’ but God-breathed truthfulness (2 Tim 3:16-17).
Some of Folau’s teammates from Polynesia have come out in support of him. News.com.au reported on how his supporters have responded:
(Rebels and Reds players unite in prayer.Source:FOX SPORTS)
Australian Super Rugby players from the Melbourne Rebels and the Queensland Reds have huddled for a post-match prayer amid reports of anger among the game’s Christians over the handling of the Israel Folau social media furore.
Wallabies fullback Folau, a fundamentalist Christian, moved a step closer to being sacked by Rugby Australia this week after he was found to have committed a “high-level” code of conduct breach for a post that said hell awaited “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers” and others.
The case has upset a number of Folau’s Wallabies teammates who share his religious beliefs, with Reds prop Taniela Tupou writing that RA “might as well sack…all the other Pacific Islands rugby players around the world.”
2.2 Negative language about Folau’s beliefs
Notice the uncomplimentary language used in the news.com.au story when it described Folau as ‘a fundamentalist Christian’. A century ago, that would have been a compliment, describing those who adhered to the fundamentals of the Christian faith – its core values – like those articulated in The Nicene Creed:
We believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
begotten from the Father before all ages,
God from God,
Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made;
of the same essence as the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven;
he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary,
and was made human.
He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered and was buried.
The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again with glory
to judge the living and the dead.
His kingdom will never end.
And we believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life.
He proceeds from the Father and the Son,
and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified.
He spoke through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.
We affirm one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look forward to the resurrection of the dead,
and to life in the world to come. Amen.
In the twenty-first century, it’s a negative term designed to denigrate a certain group of Evangelical Christians. Matt Thompson in writing for The Atlantic stated that ‘today, “fundamentalism” is often applied as a pejorative, used almost interchangeably with words such as “extremism”’.
Thompson cited Larry Eskridge, a scholar of American religion at Wheaton College: “Casually invoked to describe anyone who seems to hold some sort of vaguely-perceived traditional religious belief—be they a Bible Baptist TV preacher, a Hasidic rabbi, a Mormon housewife, or a soldier of the Islamic Jihad—the word [fundamentalism] has become so overused as to be nearly useless”.
2.3 Satire on Izzy and Rugby Australia
Satire is ‘the use of humour, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues’ (Oxford Living Dictionaries 2019. s.v. satire) [OLD].
Synonyms include mockery, ridicule, derision, scorn, caricature, irony, and sarcasm (OLD).
One of the finest pieces of satire I’ve read in recent years is in this article by Akos Balogh, ‘Dear Izzy, If Only You Had Behaved Like An Elite Athlete’ (See your world through a Christian lens, 20 May 2019).
I’ve sent a link to this article to Rugby Australia.
2.4 Disappointment with PM Scott Morrison’s pussyfooting on homosexuals and hell.
This point is worth an article in itself. How is it possible for a declared Pentecostal Christian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, to say what is reported in The Guardian?
Scott Morrison has claimed he now supports same-sex marriage because it has allowed people to “get on with their lives” and he “always supports the law of the country”.
Morrison made the claim at a press conference in Perth, brushing off questions about whether his personal views have changed since his vocal opposition to marriage equality during the marriage law postal survey in 2017.
Morrison, a Pentecostal Christian who attends the Horizons’ church, said he doesn’t “mix [his] religion with politics” and evaded a question about whether gay people go to hell, an apparent reference to the controversy surrounding rugby player Israel Folau….
Asked on Monday if he still opposes same-sex marriage, Morrison replied: “It’s law and I am glad that the change has now been made and we and people can get on with their lives, that’s what I am happy about. I always support the law of the country.”
How is it that a Christian who opposed homosexual marriage now supports it because it is law and he ‘always supports the law of the country’?
That was conveyed in the AAP report in The Canberra Times:
Scott Morrison says he supports the law of the country but wouldn’t say if his personal opposition to same-sex marriage has changed since it was legalised….
Mr Morrison abstained from voting for marriage equality when it passed the House of Representatives in 2018, and he voted “no” in the national survey.
When asked if he is still personally opposed to same-sex marriage, the prime minister replied: “It’s law. And I’m glad that the change has now been made and people can get on with their lives. That’s what I’m happy about.”
When pressed on whether his opinions have changed, he told reporters in Perth: “I always support the law of the country.”
It’s not surprising that this is Bill Shorten’s view: ‘I don’t think if you’re gay you’re going to go to hell. I don’t know if hell exists actually. But I don’t think, if it does, that being gay is what sends you there’. That’s in light of the ALP’s policy #319 (p. 191). See also, ‘Labor Party agrees to maintain conscience vote on same-sex marriage for next two terms of government’ (ABC News, Brisbane, Qld, 2015).
This is Bill Shorten’s and the ALP’s ideology and not biblical theology speaking.
2.4.1 When laws of God conflict with laws of the nation
ScoMo, how can you support the ungodly law supporting homosexuality in Australia when God opposes such sinners (along with other unrighteous people) entering the kingdom of God (Rom 1:18-32; 1 Cor 6:9-11)? There is contradiction by you in your beliefs. You have violated the law of non-contradiction:
(image courtesy YouTube)
In your work as Prime Minister, do you ever face a situation where the laws of God clash with the laws of the country? In that circumstance, the law of non-contradiction can be violated. Something cannot be both A (a law of God) and non-A (a law of the country) at the same time and in the same sense for the people of God and not become contradictory.
Here’s the clash of values you don’t seem to have comprehended, Mr Morrison:
A: God’s law is that those who practise homosexuality and other sins are ‘abandoned’ by God ‘to their shameful desires’ (Rom 1:24-32) and sinners, including homosexuals, ‘will not inherit the Kingdom of God’ (1 Cor 6:9-11).
But you now support, not A, but
Non-A: Now you agree with Australian law that conflicts with God’s law when you ‘now support same-sex marriage because it has allowed people to “get on with their lives” and [you] “always support the law of the country”’.
(a) Let Acts 5:29 guide you
According to Acts 5:17-32, the Christian apostles were thrown into a public prison by the Jewish authorities because the apostles performed ‘many miraculous signs and wonders among the people’ (v. 12). During the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison and let the apostles out to go to the Temple to ‘give the people this message of life’ (v. 20).
Not surprisingly, the captain of the Temple guard was sent by the Jewish leaders to arrest the apostles, but non-violently (v. 26). The high priest said to the apostles:
“We gave you strict orders never again to teach in this man’s [Jesus’] name!” he said. “Instead, you have filled all Jerusalem with your teaching about him, and you want to make us responsible for his death!” (v. 29)
What was the response? ‘Sorry for the horrible mistakes we made. Will you please forgive us for violating your Jewish laws? We are ashamed of what we did’. That is NOT what they retorted.
‘But Peter and the apostles replied,
“We must obey God rather than any human authority” (Acts 5:29).
(b) My disappointment with ScoMo’s compromise
I consider this is compromise by ScoMo from what he said when he was federal treasurer. Before the same-sex marriage plebiscite, he supported traditional marriage and voted ‘no’ in his personal approach to homosexual marriage. ‘It is OK to say “no”. It is OK to say “yes”, but make sure you have your say’ was what he said.
ScoMo could have shown political and Christian leadership in maintaining consistency (even though it may cost him votes) in his world view. His views are not integrated and holistic. He did not view sexuality through God’s lens.
He could have done it without reference to the Scriptures by demonstrating the consequences of homosexual behaviour. One of the most viewed articles on my homepage, ‘Truth Challenge’, on a daily basis is:
The dangers of anal sex and fisting, see also
A Christian discussion of homosexuality & sexuality
Queen Elizabeth II and Jesus silent on homosexuality
Tolerance, homosexuality and not inheriting the Kingdom of God
Genetic cause of homosexuality?
Please do not support same-sex marriage
Why politicians should not support ‘marriage equality’
3. Other assessments
One of the finest assessment’s I’ve heard of this Folau vs Rugby Australia saga is by Sydney talk-back host and top-rating radio king, 2GB’s Alan Jones, who stated that Rugby Australia is on ‘the wrong side of common sense”.
The new One Nation politician (former Labor Leader), Mark Latham, supported Folau in Latham’s inaugural speech to the NSW Upper House:
“I stand with Israel Folau,” the NSW One National leader told parliament.
“In his own private time away from his job playing football, he’s a preacher at his community church and naturally, he quotes the Bible.
“How did our state and our nation ever come to this? Those claiming outrage have fabricated their position solely for the purpose of censorship. This is not an argument about diversity.”
Australians shouldn’t have to fear being sacked for stating their religious beliefs, Mr Latham said.
“No Australian should be fearful of proclaiming four of the most glorious words of our civilisation: I am a Christian.”
Latham added that Folau ‘believes, as millions of people have believed for thousands of years that sinners go to hell…. Yet for his beliefs, his Christianity, he is not allowed to play rugby, to chase the pigskin around the park’.
“How did our State and our nation ever come to this?” 
The Spiked website considers Folau is “the Aussie rugby player … being punished for his Christian beliefs”.
ABC News, Brisbane Qld, 15 April 2019 reported Folau
‘would be prepared to walk away from rugby union. “I live for God now,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald. “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.
“In saying that, obviously I love playing footy and if it goes down that path I’ll definitely miss it. But my faith in Jesus Christ is what comes first”’.
3.1 Temptation to accept peace offering
Channel 9’s Wide World of Sports reported on 13 May 2019 that Folau considered the ‘peace offering’ from Rugby Australia (RA) ‘to resurrect his playing career’ as ‘the work of Satan’. Folau indicated being tempted by the ‘opportunity’ but considered it ‘the work of Satan’. He gave these details in a Sydney church talk.
Wide World of Sports joined in the chorus of labelling him ‘the fundamentalist Christian’ who ‘committed a high-level code of conduct breach for an Instagram post that said hell was the destiny for ‘drunks, homosexuals, adulterers’ and others.
Folau’s language about the work of Satan and the RA offer was:
“Potentially I could get terminated, which means that there’s no more playing contract and therefore no more finances or money coming in,” he said from the lectern.
“It would be the first time it has happened to me in my life.
“All the materialistic things I have been able to have over the last number of years are slowly being taken away from me.
It’s understood Super Rugby’s all-time leading try-scorer would have been allowed to resume playing again had he agreed to take down his latest controversial post.
“There have been many opportunities to potentially make the situation a little bit easier. I could go back and play the game, get everything back to the way it used to be,” Folau said.
“The way Satan works is he offers you stuff that could look good to the eye and makes you feel comfortable, and if you follow that path all the worries and troubles will go away.
“[But] it is always the will of God that comes first.” 
4. Threat to freedom of religion?
Several religious leaders have been so concerned over what happened to Folau that the ABC News reported:
Israel Folau’s clash with RA ‘over his fundamentalist religious social media posts’ motivated ‘nine prominent Christians to send letters about the protection of religious freedom to Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten’. These people included leaders from Presbyterian, Baptist, Seventh-Day Adventist and Apostolic churches, as well as a number of religious school leaders.
(image courtesy YA-webdesign)
The letters were worded differently for each political leader but both letters ‘flagged a range of issues, with protection of religious belief and free speech at the forefront’.
Each letter began:
“In recent years the protections to be accorded to religious freedom, and the related freedoms of conscience, speech and association, have come under increasing focus within Australia.”
“We write to invite you to provide clarification on a range of key issues that are important to the preservation of these freedoms in our country”.
Reverend Dr Hedley Fihaki, a Uniting Church minister and the national chair of the Assembly of Confessing Congregations, said he was worried the Wallaby’s case could set “a dangerous precedent”.
“Scripture is the book the whole church is based on, so if we are not free to teach from that, not just in the private but particularly in the public domain, it is a dangerous precedent,” Dr Fihaki told the ABC.
“From the Bible, from the holy scriptures, that’s the Old and New Testament”.
Anna Patty, in writing for The Age, pointed out some of the apprehension of religious leaders:
The letter to Mr Shorten details concerns that Labor Party policies do not go far enough to protect religious freedom and have the potential to impact on the free expression of traditional views of sexuality and marriage. It asks Labor for an assurance that religious institutions will continue to be able to hold such views and defend them in public….
The Liberal Party has committed to introducing a Commonwealth Religious Discrimination Act, but the religious leaders asked the Prime Minister to go further by protecting believers in associations including churches, mosques, charities, schools and corporations.
4.1 Folau case points to destruction of Western culture?
Peter FitzSimons (Peter F), writing for The Age, challenges ‘Six of the worst fallacies surrounding the Israel Folau case. One of these is: ‘This is the end of Western civilisation as we know it. Uh, no. This is Western civilisation evolving, and saying that while publicly marginalising a group used to be acceptable, and even a part of the law of the land, it is no longer acceptable’.
What is the truth? Is Peter F on target or is he promoting a view that minimises the sins of Australia.
Jude 1:7 (NRSV) reminds us of what awaits those who practise immorality, including ‘unnatural lust’:
‘Likewise, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which, in the same manner as they, indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire’.
4.1.1 Morality according to secularism
Peter F is taking off on the wrong runway. He wants morality to be decided by the evolution of acceptance of a previously ‘marginalised’ group (of homosexuals).
This is secular thinking that is not in harmony with the Lord God’s plan for the universe. Peter F’s world and life view causes him to be blind to the moral degradation happening in Australia.
What is God’s way of thinking regarding sinful behaviour and eternal issues? It is straight out of the Israel Folau handbook, Scripture:
9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, 10 thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Some of you once lived this way. 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 (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NET).
Not only does sinful behaviour have eternal consequences, but sinful thinking has the same destiny. See Matt 5:27-28, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (NET).
Remember what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah? Billy Graham made this pointed observation:
Some years ago, my wife, Ruth, was reading the draft of a book I was writing. When she finished a section describing the terrible downward spiral of our nation’s moral standards and the idolatry of worshiping false gods such as technology and sex, she startled me by exclaiming, “If God doesn’t punish America, He’ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”
She was probably thinking of a passage in Ezekiel where God tells why He brought those cities to ruin. “Now this was the sin of … Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen” (Ezekiel 16:49–50, NIV).
4.1.2 The immorality of Sodom and Gomorrah
Surely this also can be applied to Australia.
See my article: Can Australia be turned around?
What does it mean ‘they were haughty and did detestable things’? Other dynamic equivalence translations help clear up the meaning:
- ‘Sodom and her daughters became too proud and began to do terrible things in front of me. So I punished them’ (ERV);
- ‘They thought they were better than everyone else, and they did things I hate. And so I destroyed them’ (CEV);
- ‘They were very proud. They did many things that were evil in my eyes. I hated those things. So I got rid of Sodom and her daughters, just as you have seen’ (NIRV);
- ‘She was proud and committed detestable sins, so I wiped her out, as you have seen’ (NLT);
What was the detestable, terrible, evil sin committed in Sodom & Gomorrah?
Genesis 19 reveals it.
Before they [the two angels] retired for the night, all the men of Sodom, young and old, came from all over the city and surrounded the house. 5 They shouted to Lot, “Where are the men who came to spend the night with you? Bring them out to us so we can have sex with them!” 
6 So Lot stepped outside to talk to them, shutting the door behind him. 7 “Please, my brothers,” he begged, “don’t do such a wicked thing. 8 Look, I have two virgin daughters. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do with them as you wish. But please, leave these men alone, for they are my guests and are under my protection” (Gen 19:4-8 NLT).
Therefore, the men of Sodom, both young and old, wanted to have sexual relations with other men (the two angels). That’s what the text states.
However, some scholars want to make this encounter of the men of Sodom with the male angels as an example of selfishness or being inhospitable when compared with Ezek 16:48-50 (NLT):
As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, Sodom and her daughters were never as wicked as you and your daughters. 49 Sodom’s sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door. 50 She was proud and committed detestable sins, so I wiped her out, as you have seen.
One scholar who takes the hospitality view is homosexual clergyman, Rev Dr Patrick S Cheng:
The true sin of the Sodomites as described in the Bible has nothing to do with same-sex acts per se. Rather, the ancient Sodomites were punished by God for far greater sins: for attempted gang rape, for mob violence, and for turning their backs on strangers and the needy who were in their midst. In other words, the real sin of Sodom was radical inhospitality. And, ironically, it is often anti-gay Christians who are most guilty of this sin today….
So, who are the real Sodomites today? Who are the people who turn their backs on the strangers and the least among us? Ironically, I believe that anti-gay Christians are often the ones who are most guilty of committing the true sin of Sodom….
The bottom line is that nowhere in the Bible does Jesus Christ ever condemn LGBT people. However, Jesus does expressly condemn people who turn their backs on strangers and on those who are the neediest among us [Matt 25:43].
For Dr Cheng, ‘the true sin of Sodom: radical inhospitality’.
Dr Cheng supports his lifestyle this way but he’s not promoting a biblical view of the sin of Sodom according to Genesis 19 and other portions of Scripture:
Yale University historian, John Boswell, concluded that Sodom was destroyed because:
(1) The Sodomites were destroyed for the general wickedness which had prompted the Lord to send angels to the city to investigate in the first place; (2) the city was destroyed because the people of Sodom had tried to rape the angels; (3) the city was destroyed because the men of Sodom had tried to engage in homosexual intercourse with the angels…; (4) the city was destroyed for inhospitable treatment of visitors sent from the Lord.
(a) Ezekiel drew attention to Sodom’s problem
‘She was proud and committed detestable sins, so I wiped her out, as you have seen’ (Ezek 16:50 NLT). So, she was proud, which infers she did selfish things, thus making it an inhospitable city.
However, the bigger picture is that Sodom’s sin also was homosexuality. We know this from a few biblical facts:
Examine the context of Genesis 19 and we find that 19:8 reveals the perversion was sexual sin of men with men.
Since there was ‘pride’ or selfishness in Sodom, according to Ezek 16:50, the sin of homosexuality can be included as ‘sexual sins are a form of selfishness, since they are the satisfaction of fleshly passions’. Ezekiel 16 confronts Jerusalem and ‘her daughters’ with their detestable sins.
Sodom ‘committed detestable sins, so I wiped her out, as you have seen’ (Ezek 16:50). By calling Sodom’s sins ‘detestable’ this is an indication it was sexual. The same Hebrew word is used in Leviticus 18:22 (NLT) where it describes homosexual sins, ‘Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin’.
According to the Collins Dictionary, sodomy in English ‘is anal sexual intercourse’ (2019. s.v. sodomy). This is a homosexual act. Its origin is from an Old Testament ‘city destroyed by God for its wickedness that, with Gomorrah, traditionally typifies depravity (Genesis 19:24)…. this city [was seen as] representing homosexuality’ (Collins Dictionary 2019. s.v. Sodom).
Jude verse 7 in the NT states: ‘Likewise, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which, in the same manner as they, indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire’ (NRSV).
Jude 7 associates the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah with ‘sexual immorality’ and pursuing ‘unnatural lust’. The Greek states, apelthousai hopisw sarkos heteras (transliterated) and is translated as ‘went after other flesh’ (unnatural lust) which Thayer is careful to note ‘is used of those who are on a search for persons with whom they can gratify their lust’.
Therefore, we have every biblical reason to understand the sin of homosexuality in Sodom and Gomorrah led to
(b) Sodom and Gomorrah’s punishment
This was God’s punishment for these two cities:
Then the Lord rained down fire and burning sulfur from the sky on Sodom and Gomorrah. 25 He utterly destroyed them, along with the other cities and villages of the plain, wiping out all the people and every bit of vegetation. 26 But Lot’s wife looked back as she was following behind him, and she turned into a pillar of salt (Gen 19:24-26 NLT).
Why did God wipe out Sodom & Gomorrah?
‘So the Lord told Abraham, “I have heard a great outcry from Sodom and Gomorrah, because their sin is so flagrant. I am going down to see if their actions are as wicked as I have heard”’ (Gen 18:20-21).
‘And the Lord replied, “If I find fifty righteous people in Sodom, I will spare the entire city for their sake” (Gen 18:26).
‘For we (the angels) are about to destroy this city completely. The outcry against this place is so great it has reached the Lord, and he has sent us to destroy it’ (Gen 19:13).
Therefore, Greg Koukl concludes:
Piecing together the biblical evidence gives us a picture of Sodom’s offense. The sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was some kind of activity—a grave, ongoing, lawless, sensuous activity—that Lot saw and heard and that tormented him as he witnessed it day after day. It was an activity in which the inhabitants indulged the flesh in corrupt desires by going after strange flesh, ultimately bringing upon them the most extensive judgment anywhere in the Bible outside of the book of Revelation.
There is enough contextual information and biblical data elsewhere to indicate Sodom & Gomorrah’s sins were homosexuality and other sensual sins. Further insight is gained from 2 Peter 2:6-8 (NLT):
God condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and turned them into heaps of ashes. He made them an example of what will happen to ungodly people. But God also rescued Lot out of Sodom because he was a righteous man who was sick of the shameful immorality of the wicked people around him. 8 Yes, Lot was a righteous man who was tormented in his soul by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day.
It was not God turning these cities into ashes as punishment for occasional sin, but for wickedness ‘day after day’.
I say it again, based on Ruth Graham’s words: “If God doesn’t punish Australia, He’ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”
5. Folau’s punishment
A three-person independent panel’s decision in the RA vs Folau controversy decided Folau’s $4 million, 4-year contract should be terminated because of his anti-gay social media post on 10 April 2019.
Folau’s response was:
“It has been a privilege and an honour to represent Australia and my home state of New South Wales, playing the game I love.
“I am deeply saddened by today’s decision to terminate my employment and I am considering my options.
“As Australians, we are born with certain rights, including the right to freedom of religion and the right to freedom of expression. The Christian faith has always been a part of my life and I believe it is my duty as a Christian to share God’s word. Upholding my religious beliefs should not prevent my ability to work or play for my club and country.
“I would like to thank my wife Maria for her love and encouragement to stay true to our beliefs. We have been humbled by the support we have received from family, friends, players, fans and the wider community.
“Thank you also to those who have spoken out in my defence, some of whom do not share my beliefs but have defended my right to express them”.
What are Folau’s next moves? After the announcement of this punishment, Folau had 72 hours to challenge the decision, which he did not take up.
He also could take the decision to court to stop RA from terminating his contract. It could eventually be heard in the NSW Supreme Court or the Federal Court.
At the time of concluding this article, Fairfax newspapers reported that Folau had had discussions with a leading Melbourne workplace relations’ lawyer, Stuart Wood QC, but it was too early to say Wood had been ‘engaged’ as a lawyer to represent Folau in this contractual controversy.
Another option for him is to appeal his case with the Fair Work Commission, for unlawful dismissal on religious grounds. He has until 10 June to commence that process.
While RA has found Folau guilty of committing a “high-level” code of conduct breach for his personal Instagram post, he had his 4-year contract terminated and is deliberating over future options.
My own views are that Folau has not been included in the actual understanding of diversity and tolerance by Rugby Australia.
- ‘a range of things which are very different from each other’ (Collins Dictionary 2019. s.v. diversity).
- ‘the fact that there are many different ideas or opinions about something’ (Cambridge Dictionary 2019. s.v. diversity).
Therefore, diversity means that Folau’s Christian values need to be accepted among the range of different ideas, values and opinions in Australia. Instead, Folau has been censored from expressing his values (one of the diverse views) of the destiny of a whole range of sinners, from God’s perspective. Any country accepting diversity will agree with Folau’s right to express his Christian views.
- ‘the quality of allowing other people to say and do as they like, even if you do not agree or approve of it’ (Collins Dictionary 2019. s.v. tolerance).
- a ‘willingness to accept behaviour and beliefs that are different from your own, although you might not agree with or approve of them’ (Cambridge Dictionary 2019. s.v. tolerance).
Based on these two definitions, Folau has not been afforded tolerance towards his Christian views. RA has failed the tolerance test.
Therefore, what has happened by the RA actions in relation to Folau? It has closed down any opportunity for RA to implement fully the values of diversity and tolerance in the Rugby Union fraternity.
So Folau has been the victim of censorship of his values and an attack on free speech which affects his freedom of religion.
(courtesy Clipart Library)
 On Line Opinion 2019. Fairies at the bottom of the garden : Comments (online).
Posted by Pogi, Friday, 10 May 2019 3:37:48 PM. Available at: http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?article=20266&page=0 (Accessed 13 May 2019).
 Tom Decent 2019. Sponsor abandons Folau as Farr-Jones claims star has not breached deal. The Age (online), 8 May. Available at: https://www.theage.com.au/sport/rugby-union/folau-dumped-by-sponsor-asics-20190508-p51lcy.html (Accessed 17 May 2019).
 David Crowe 2019. Morrison accuses Shorten of taking a ‘cheap shot’ over gays going to hell. The Canberra Times (online), 14 May. Available at: https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6123617/morrison-accuses-shorten-of-taking-a-cheap-shot-over-gays-going-to-hell/?cs=14350 (Accessed 17 May 2017).
 ABC News, Brisbane, Qld 2019. Israel Folau’s case prompts Australian religious leaders to pen letters to Scott Morrison, Bill Shorten (online), 11 May. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-05-11/israel-folau-religious-leaders-send-letter-to-shorten-morrison/11104094 (Accessed 11 May 2019).
 Ben Francis 2019. Rugby: Israel Folau refused to delete controversial Instagram post to save Wallabies career – report. Newshub (online), 10 May. Available at: https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/sport/2019/05/rugby-israel-folau-refused-to-delete-controversial-instagram-post-to-save-wallabies-career-report.html (Accessed 11 May 2019).
 Collins Dictionary (2019 s.v. revile).
 Got Questions Ministries 2019. What is a reviler in the Bible? (online) Available at: https://www.gotquestions.org/reviler-in-the-Bible.html (Accessed 11 May 2019).
 Suggested by Urban Dictionary (1999-2019. s.v. fuddy duddy).
 Bauer, W; Arndt, W F & Gingrich, F W 1957. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (limited edition licensed to Zondervan Publishing House), p. 480.
 The Greek noun in this verse is loidoria.
 The ESV translates ‘insult’ as ‘reviling’; the NASB, NET and NIV as ‘insult’; and the NRSV as ‘abuse’.
 FindLaw 2019. Swearing in Public is Against the Law (Really) [online]. Available at: https://www.findlaw.com.au/articles/4251/swearing-in-public-is-against-the-law-really.aspx (Accessed 11 May 2019).
 Akos Balogh 2019. 4 Urgent Conversations Australians Need To Have After Folau. See Your World through a Christian Lens (online). Available at: http://akosbalogh.com/2019/05/15/4-urgent-conversations-australians-need-to-have-after-folau/ (Accessed 16 May 2019).
 Dawn Grace-Cohen 2019. Silencing Folau with queer fascism betrays our gay marriage victory. The Sydney Morning Herald (online), 4 May. Available at: https://www.smh.com.au/national/silencing-folau-with-queer-fascism-betrays-our-gay-marriage-victory-20190503-p51jsk.html (Accessed 16 May 2019).
 Balogh 2019, with help from Simon Smart of the Centre for Public Christianity and Christian author and social commentator, Os Guinness.
 ‘Public square’ means ‘the sphere of public opinion’ (Merriam-Webster Dictionary 2019. s.v. public square).
 In Balogh 2019.
 Phillip Ayoub and Jeremiah Garretson 2018. How the Media Has Helped Change Public Views about Lesbian and Gay People. Scholars’ Strategy Network (online), 24 May. Available at: https://scholars.org/brief/how-media-has-helped-change-public-views-about-lesbian-and-gay-people (Accessed 14 May 2019).
 Marriage equality in Australia 2017. Available at: https://www.ag.gov.au/marriageequality (Accessed 11 May 2019).
 David Lipson 2017. Same-sex marriage and the defining image that almost wasn’t. ABC News, Brisbane Qld (online), 11 December. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-12-11/same-sex-marriage-the-lone-voice-of-david-littleproud/9246370 (Accessed 11 May 2019). According to this ABC News report, ‘Just four MPs voted against same-sex marriage in the chamber: Mr Littleproud and Mr Pitt, along with Liberal MP Russell Broadbent and crossbencher Bob Katter’.
 News.com.au 2019. Super Rugby players in huge public show of support for Israel Folau (online), 11 May. Available at: https://www.news.com.au/sport/rugby/super-rugby-players-in-huge-public-show-of-support-for-israel-folau/news-story/f13197aa1688febc7d3d8246500869f2 (Accessed 11 May 2019).
 Matt Thompson 2015. The Origins of ‘Fundamentalism’, The Atlantic, 30 June. Available at: https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/06/the-origins-of-fundamentalism/397238/ (Accessed 11 May 2019).
 Paul Karp 2019. Scott Morrison claims he now backs same-sex marriage – but dodges question on hell. The Guardian Australia (online), 13 May. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/may/13/scott-morrison-claims-he-now-backs-same-sex-marriage-but-dodges-question-on-hell (Accessed 18 May 2019).
 AAP 2019. Gay marriage is the law: PM Morrison. The Canberra Times (online), 13 May. Available at: https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6122212/gay-marriage-is-the-law-pm-morrison/?cs=14231 (Accessed 18 May 2019).
 Paul Karp 2019.
 Staff writers 2017. Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison reveals he is voting ‘no’ in same-sex marriage plebiscite. News.com.au [from 7.30], 31 August. Available at: https://www.news.com.au/national/politics/federal-treasurer-scott-morrison-reveals-he-is-voting-no-in-samesex-marriage-plebiscite/news-story/d7be152a9ef873e777dcb653af478a20 (Accessed 18 May 2019).
 Tom Rabe 2019. I stand with Israel Folau: Mark Latham. Mandurah Mail (online), 8 May. Available at: https://www.mandurahmail.com.au/story/6114327/i-stand-with-israel-folau-mark-latham/?cs=9397 (Accessed 11 May 2019).
 AAP 2019. Israel Folau reveals RA settlement rejection, saying ‘temptation’ is ‘Satan’s work’, Channel 9 Wide World of Sports, 13 May. Available at: https://wwos.nine.com.au/rugby/folau-stands-firm-after-ra-peace-offering/6f3f392f-ecf2-4375-a998-85ac54e5b1c8 (Accessed 13 May 2019).
 ABC News, Brisbane, Qld 2019. Israel Folau’s case prompts Australian religious leaders to pen letters to Scott Morrison, Bill Shorten (online), 11 May. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-05-11/israel-folau-religious-leaders-send-letter-to-shorten-morrison/11104094 (Accessed 13 May 2019).
 Anna Patty 2019. Christian leaders challenge major parties on commitment to religious freedom. The Age (online), 11 May. Available at: https://www.theage.com.au/federal-election-2019/christian-leaders-challenge-major-parties-on-commitment-to-religious-freedom-20190508-p51lgo.html (Accessed 13 May 2019).
 Peter FitzSimons 2019. Six of the worst fallacies surrounding the Israel Folau case. The Age, 8 May. Available at: https://www.theage.com.au/sport/six-of-the-worst-fallacies-surrounding-the-israel-folau-case-20190508-p51let.html (Accessed 13 May 2019).
 Billy Graham 2012. Billy Graham: ‘My Heart Aches for America’, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (online), 12 July. Available at: https://billygraham.org/story/billy-graham-my-heart-aches-for-america/ (Accessed 13 May 2019).
 Other translations such as the KJV, LEB (the LEB has the footnote, ‘Hebrew idiom for sexual intercourse’, cf Gen 4:1), NKJV, NRSV, ESV and RSV translate ‘have sex with them’ as ‘we may know them’.
 The NIV translates also as ‘have sex with them’, as does the ERV, NET, CEV, CSB, GNB, ISV, NABRE, and NASB (‘may have relations with them’).
 Rev Patrick S Cheng PhD 2011. What Was the Real Sin of Sodom? HuffPost (online), 25 May. Available at: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/what-was-the-real-sin-of_b_543996?guccounter=1 (Accessed 17 May 2019).
 John Boswell 1980. Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, p. 93, cited in Greg Koukl 2013. What Was the Sin of Sodom and Gomorrah? Stand to Reason (online), 8 March. Available at: https://www.str.org/articles/what-was-the-sin-of-sodom-and-gomorrah (Accessed 17 May 2019).
 The following points are from Norman Geisler & Thomas Howe 1992. When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook of Bible Difficulties. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, p. 285.
 Lenski considers ‘example’ should be translated as ‘indication or sign’ (R C H Lenski 1966. Commentary on the New Testament: The Interpretation of the Epistles of St. Peter, St. John, and St. Jude, vol 11. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, p. 625).
 Joseph Henry Thayer 1886/1962. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, being Grimm’s Wilke’s Clavis Novi Testamenti. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, pp. 569-570. This is a Lexicon prepared by Carl Ludwig Wilibald Grimm, Joseph Henry Thayer, and Christian Gottlob Wilke.
 Koukl op cit.
 Georgina Robinson 2019. Folau ‘saddened’ by sacking, considering his options. The Sydney Morning Herald (online), 17 May. Available at: https://www.smh.com.au/sport/rugby-union/folau-set-to-be-sacked-by-rugby-australia-20190514-p51n2g.html (Accessed 23 May 2019).
 Samantha Hutchinson, Tom Decent & Adrian Proszenko 2019. Folau turns to top silk as Rugby Australia case heads for legal stoush. The Sydney Morning Herald (online), 21 May. Available at: https://www.smh.com.au/sport/rugby-union/folau-turns-to-top-silk-as-rugby-australia-case-heads-for-legal-stoush-20190521-p51psc.html (Accessed 23 May 2019).
Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 23 May 2019.