The Faith of Israel Folau
Folau wrote an article in “Player’s Voice” that gives more context for his comments. He likens warning people about homosexuality to telling someone they are about to fall into a hole. It’s clear from Folau’s article that he is genuinely speaking from his own conviction to help others avoid sin.
“People’s lives are not for me to judge. Only God can do that,” the article starts out. He goes on to explain how his own life was once defined by sin and immoral behavior.
“There are many sins outlined in that passage from 1 Corinthians and I have been guilty of committing some of them myself,” the rugby player explained. Folau shares his testimony in the article, which begins with a childhood in the Mormon faith. After his family left the LDS church, Folau says he felt a void where God should be.
Folau was 17 when he started playing rugby professionally. The experience “opened me to a world of temptation I had never been exposed to before,” he says. It was during this time that he tried to fill the void of his life with “Alcohol. Women. Sins.” Folau took a break from rugby to play for the Australian Football League for a brief stint. Australian football was different enough that Folau struggled to perform. The experience left him “emotionally broken.”
While playing Australian Football or “footy” as it is known, he started attending a new, Pentecostal church where he “experienced God’s love for the first time.” Folau has tried to live his life “in God’s footsteps” ever since. After deciding to follow God, the rugby player has been at peace and “enjoyed life with an open, honest heart.” This is the reason, Folau explains, he is willing to sacrifice everything—even his career in rugby—in order to follow what he believes God is calling him to do.
What’s Next for Israel Folau?
Despite disagreeing with Rugby Australia’s position on same-sex marriage, though, Folau is able to appreciate the predicament the organization is in. Folau understands the leaders “have to run things in a way that appeals broadly to their executive, fans and sponsors, as well as its players and staff. It is a business.”
Folau is trying to walk a very fine line at the moment. He has indicated he does not want to leave Rugby Australia, but he’s willing to leave it—and the game he loves to play—behind in order to follow his convictions.
“I would sooner lose everything—friends, family, possessions, my football career, the lot—and still stand with Jesus, than have all of those things and not stand beside Him,” Folau wrote in 2018.
Folau’s father says his son’s conviction hasn’t wavered. “I talked to him, and he said whatever God’s decision to his life, he will accept.”