Israel Folau and the SSM Debate


A month ago Australian rugby superstar Israel Folau came out against same sex marriage via his twitter account and yesterday, he reaffirmed his commitment to traditional marriage. The reason for this decision was his religious faith. In the past Folau has advocated to end homophobia in sport and to his credit, has been nothing but respectful in expressing his views. Many twitter users urged Wallaby teammate and activist David Pocock to have a ‘quiet, respectful discussion’ with Folau in order to convince him otherwise. Not only would this be important given the role model status Folau holds, but it also mirrors the conversations many in the country may have had or be planning to have with religious friends. But how would this conversation even go? How does one convince a friend or stranger to abandon their faith in order to spur social change?
For the purposes of this hypothetical debate I will continue to use the example of Pocock and Folau because up the Wallabies!
Imagine for a second that you, like Israel Folau, believe without a shadow of a doubt that there is a God. That this God created the earth and humans and a bunch of rules and regulations for you to live your life by. This God has omnipotence, omniscience and is in charge of whether or not you will spend the rest of your life in heaven or be eternally damned in hell. Pretty spooky. Now imagine that one of this God’s rules is that two blokes can’t get married. That marriage can only be between a man and a woman for the purposes of procreation.
If you genuinely believe in God, and think that God does not allow same sex marriage, then you’d be crazy to vote yes. You’d be defying the will of the most powerful being in the universe! Saying yes would mean you’d be saying no to the guy/person/thing that will let you into heaven! At least that’s how I see it. That’s how a lot of Christians see it too.
It seems then that there is a serious problem facing David Pocock. How do you convince someone to go against the supposed saviour of their souls and the giver of their athletic prowess, as Falou believes? Pocock seems to have three options. Convince Israel that God isn’t real, convince him that God is wrong, or convince him that God will let this one slide, like he seems to have done in the past.
You cannot prove that God is real and therefore you cannot prove that he isn’t. So sadly, option one is off the table, especially if you’ve had your head in as many rucks as Pocock has and perhaps aren’t quite up to heavy duty metaphysical reasoning. Unfortunately proving God wrong may be just as hard. Whilst there are some very difficult to believe passages, AKA that whole first part and the ark part and the end part (I’m looking at you Revelations). The whole “yeah that bit’s a metaphor” defense holds up just fine if you’re a devout Christian, like Issy.
So that brings us to the final option. Saying “look, the Bible says don’t let same sex marriage happen, but it also says a lot of other shit things that we’ve just given up on in modern society.” The Bible says don’t wear wool and linen clothing combos (Leveticus 19:19). We gave up on that. The Bible says don’t grow two kinds of crop in the same field (Deuteronomy 22:9), farmers would be absolutely livid if we enforced that one. Or how about Timothy 2:12, "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, she must be silent." There’s plenty of rules and regulations within the Bible that most Christians have given up on. So I genuinely don’t see why the issue of marriage equality has been met with such a hard-line stance from Australian religious groups.
It seems that most Christians who do support same sex marriage have opted to believe that God will let this one slide and perhaps there is some theological backing to that claim. The God of the Bible teaches love and compassion. Perhaps that love and compassion is enough to let slide old rules and move forward to a more progressive and inclusive Christianity. I truly hope that most Christians will feel this way. However, this is unlikely. The pervasive underlying tone of homophobia that seems to permeate many Christian groups has been solidified by two millennia of oppression toward homosexuals. With politicians like Tony Abbott fueling the fire, many Christians will face a tough choice. Choosing between the compassion taught by their faith and the restrictions placed on them by its stance on homosexuality. Only time will tell what the result of that decision may be.

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