Why the Israel Folau Case is Important for Everyone

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The decision yesterday by Rugby Australia’s tribunal to terminate the contract of Israel Folau should make the whole of Australia sit up, take notice, and be warned.

The sacking of Folau marks the crystallisation of a movement in our society that many of us warned about in the run-up to the postal vote on marriage in 2017. At the time, and since then, we have been ridiculed for suggesting that there was far more at stake than simply a small change in the Marriage Act but the truth of those warnings is now being seen.

Changing the definition of marriage was always about far more than simply tweaking a rule to include a few more people, not least for those who campaigned so hard for it. The slogan “love is love” was heavy in the air and it spoke to a very specific claim – that homosexual relationships were no different to heterosexual relationships. Of course, in many ways that is true. Homosexuals can love one another just as deeply as heterosexuals can. But beyond that, the slogan starts to fall apart. For example, biology tells us that heterosexual relationships are capable of reproduction whereas homosexual ones aren’t. And the moniker “love is love” seemed to be very selectively applied – where was the outcry for throuples to be allowed to marry? Or petitions for incestuous marriages? Some loves, it seemed, were more equal than others.

I was involved in a number of different media conversations in the lead-up to the postal vote. One of the questions I regularly asked was, “What is marriage? How do you arrive at that definition?” It was fascinating that I never received a consistently applied answer. I was told regularly that it was about 2 people who loved each other. So what about 3 people? Why not them? If “love is love” then why not their love? And why love anyway? And who will check if it’s there?

I pastor a church with lots of people from all over the world. A good number of them have arranged (not forced) marriages. Like Tevye and Golde in A Fiddler on the Roofthey didn’t love each other on their wedding day but over the years they have forged a strong and loving marriage. According to the fuzzy definition given during the Australian marriage debate, theirs wasn’t even a proper marriage. Try telling them that now.

Through all these ill-defined arguments and slogans we began to see something else emerge – the shouting down of those who disagreed. For many who were campaigning it was outrageous that anybody could even consider voting “no”. It wasn’t seen as a matter of conscience but as a moral failing to think that heterosexual and homosexual relationships were somehow different, even if those who voted “no” didn’t want to make statements about morality themselves, they just didn’t think that these two types of relationships were exactly the same. But the “yes” campaign was always a campaign about morality; the rhetoric of “second class citizens” and the reliable “love is love” were moral claims and the change in the Marriage Act was really about having the State itself make a moral claim. It was, ultimately, about achieving state-enforced moral equivalence.

And it was achieved, by changing the law governing the most fundamental social building block we have. Once the law was changed then it was only going to be a matter of time before the progressive activists took this to be a mandate to look for the same enforcement of sexual morality in other areas of our common life.

Also Read: The hatred and maliciousness shoved in Folau’s face exemplifies the truth behind the quote he posted

And so we arrive at today’s decision. What is remarkable about the position that Folau finds himself in is that it was entirely because others wanted to make the morality of sex an issue. Last year when Folau first upset people it was because he was asked a direct question about homosexuals. He didn’t raise the issue but it was forced upon.

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