There has been much written about Israel Folau’s recent comments. I could go into a theological treatise about why his interpretation of ‘those’ passages are wrong. I could ask him to think about the impact of his words on people. I could also decry him as not being a ‘real’ Christian. I am not going to do any of those things, and here’s why:

  1. I have spent years in churches which support his view. I know that any type of discussion about his implied theology will most likely lead to the conclusion I am a ‘liberal’ Christian who wants to re-write the Bible in my own image. That is not true, but …
  2. I know that to challenge him regarding the impact of his words, will lead to the response that it is not ‘loving’ to allow people to continue in their sin. In this world, if I am not my brothers’ keeper, I am not really Christian. I don’t think this is true either, but …
  3. I understand that there is no consensus on what it means, or what it takes, to be a ‘real’ Christian. There hasn’t been in the 2000 odd years since Jesus walked the earth, so it would be fairly presumptuous to think we will work it out now. Despite this, the idea of being a ‘real’ Christian takes up took much of the discourse and convinces no-one, except those already on our side. So …

My response is this:

I am so very sorry that once again some of the most vulnerable people in our communities are being made scapegoats of the Church. I am so sorry for the hurt these words will cause you, for the angst that I cannot heal. I am sorry that you may feel self-loathing or that you can never be good enough. I am sorry if these words evoked memories of feeling that way, feelings which, perhaps, you thought were in the past. I am sorry I can’t take away the pain, or hurt or rejection, and I am sorry I cannot silence these voices that speak so prominently in our society in the name of Jesus.

If you have made it this far, and you are still reading, I would like you to know that there are people in the church who empathise, sympathise and welcome you in – just as you are. There are some of us who would like to hear your story. We would like to know how we can help. We would like the chance to journey with you as brothers and sisters, parents and children, lovers and friends. We would love to reach in and heal your wounds, and allow you to reach in and heal some of ours.

Sometimes I dream about an ideal church where no one wounds each other, intentionally or unintentionally. A church where people are happy all the time. A church where we always sing great worship songs (which just happen to coincide precisely with my taste in music). But I know we live in the real world, where real Christians are also real humans. And I wonder if maybe the ideal church is the one where we can ask forgiveness from God, from each other, and from ourselves. Where we can choose to each day try to love one another, just as God made us, with all our differences, abilities and humanness. I wonder if the ideal church is the one where everyone is welcome. Especially you.