There’s no point in dipping our toes in the shallow end; let’s have a look at something big right now.
If you’re going to have a think about topics that are relevant, difficult and controversial, you really can’t get much hotter than this at the moment: Israel Folau has made a comment that has sparked outrage on both sides of this particular fence. He made a response to the question “What is God’s plan for gay people?”, saying “Hell, unless they repent of their sins”. He has since put out a fuller explanation of his answer here, both of which I would like to discuss in this discourse.
I will refer several times to his answer and article, but I only mention it as it was the catalyst to me writing… not from any particular views on what he has or hasn’t said.
First, let me say that this topic is controversial because it is so personal to so very many people. Even regardless of it’s personal nature, when we talk about any topic we are to do so with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). So I hope and pray that when all of us talk, that we do so in this way.
Let me also say that maybe the mistake that Israel Folau made (and I’m thinking he would probably agree with this), is not that he voiced his opinion, nor even that he did so publicly… but that he did so in one sentence. Now, he has since put out the article that I mentioned earlier which more fully explains his point of view which, it seems to me, has been left largely alone by the media.
There are many discussion points that could be made around this topic. I would just like to tackle one today. The term ‘Hate speech’ has been thrown around quite a bit on these things and I want to show why it doesn’t apply in this case.
The Singling out? of Homosexuality by Christians
Hate speech is defined as speech that attacks a person or group on the basis of attributes such as race, religion, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, disability, or gender. Comments against Christianity (or any religion, though Christianity is where I will focus), and definitely comments made about Folau in the backlash of what he said, say that they and he are using ‘hate speech’ in singling out homosexuality.
But I want to ask… is that actually true?
Folau received backlash for saying that God’s plan for gay people was going to hell. If you read his full article, and if you talk with a lot of other Christians, they would say that there is something that should be much more controversial within Christianity (but isn’t really ever picked up on). Why is that?
The Biblical view (and what Folau later mentioned) is actually that EVERYONE (you, me… everyone) would be destined to go to hell if they didn’t repent of their sins and turn to Jesus. I’ll discuss what sin actually is in another post, but the Bible is very clear that it is not limited to a single person or group.
Now… to me that seems to be a lot more controversial than singling out a person or a group of people. But I am not worried about it being controversial… what I am concerned with is the singling out of a certain group of people. And this runs in both directions… it concerns me if and when Christians single out Homosexuals or any group and honing in and putting pressure on them specifically… but on the flip side of that is that it concerns me when, in the name of tolerance, people are unwilling to have Christians even voice their opinion and persecute them as haters and bigots because they voice a contrary opinion to their own.
We’ll deal with the issue of disagreement at another time… but I think I can fairly say that Christianity (not specific Christians, but Christianity) doesn’t single out, but actually lays a blanket statement over EVERYONE. Folau was specifically asked about Homosexuals… and while I may not have answered in the same way he did, all he did was give his opinion to that specific question. In my experience, those who have spoken on this specific issue have never brought it up themselves but have had the question brought up by others.
So let’s not be caught by the term hate speech. While the bible lists many ways of living both good and bad, it is very clear that all people have fallen short of the standard and that the only way to reconcile ourselves with God is through the person of Jesus.
How would I have responded to the same question? What is God’s purpose for gay people? Exactly the same as everyone else… Salvation through repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus.