Here are some thoughts about Israel Folau’s recent post condemning homosexuality and other sins. I really wish he had some wise Christians advising him before he posted that kind of stuff! Just because Israel Folau is a gifted football player, it does not make him a gifted evangelist or preacher. Do I disagree with his post? Yes and no. It’s complicated.
In case you have been living under a rock and haven’t read his post (which was actually a re-post of someone else’s graphic), it read: “Warning: Drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolators. Hell awaits you. Repent! Only Jesus Saves!”
On the one hand, there are certainly Bible verses that indicate very clearly that all of these things are, indeed, sins in God’s eyes. Furthermore, there are several verses that list such sins and include the very dire warning that those who engage in such practices will end up in hell. In fact the Falou post is an almost verbatim quote of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. In that sense, I don’t disagree – after all it is God’s Word.
What I am disappointed about, however, is that Israel Falou and other well-meaning Christians make this message the platform that they base their crusade upon. In doing so they make their primary message a crusade against specific sins, rather than dealing with the more fundamental issue of our estrangement from God.
It is interesting that Bible passages which warn against the dangers of specific sins, such as 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (mentioned above) are addressed to Christians, to the church, not to non-Christians. These verses are written to God’s people to urge them to abstain from such sins so that they do not drift away from God and lose their salvation. But if you examine the many Gospel sermons recorded in the Bible (talks specifically directed at non-Christians) by Jesus, Peter and Paul, they do not focus on needing to stop this specific sin or that specific sin. While they often include a plea for general repentance, the major focus is upon the person and work of Christ and our need to enter into a relationship with him as Lord and Saviour. The specific condemnation of specific sins does not get much of a run at all in the Gospel sermons of the New Testament – and for a very good reason. Because to do so would give the wrong impression; it would suggest that salvation is all about cleaning up your act in order to be good enough to be acceptable to God.
Unfortunately, Israel Folau’s post gives just that impression. It basically implies, “You dirty rotten sinners are all going to hell. Stop sinning and you won’t go to hell.” Even though there is a very brief reference at the end of his post to Jesus being able to save, it is not explained and it is completely overwhelmed by the condemnation of sin which comprises 95% of the post. That is my problem with Irael Folau’s post.
As Christians, we need to be very clear about what our mission on earth is and what it is not. It is not to go on a crusade against specific sins. No one will ever be converted that way. Our mission is to bring people to Jesus; to point people to him as the one who can forgive and restore us to right relationship with God. The difference might seem subtle, but it is important.