Folau: ‘I was directed by what it says in the Bible’
Sidelined rugby union star Israel Folau says the polarising anti-gay social media comments which could end his football career were "directed by what it says in the bible" and shared "with a whole lot of love".
The 30-year-old Waratahs and Wallabies fullback is set to have his contract terminated after posting on Instagram a warning to drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, and idolaters that "hell awaits you".
Folau on Sunday attended The Truth of Jesus Christ Church in Kenthurst with his wife Maria - a New Zealand international netballer - where in a sermon parishioners were urged to find strength in their faith.
"Some of the sermons we heard came from the bible and spoke of standing for what you believe in and against prosecution," Folau told The Australian.
"I obviously love rugby and would like to continue to play, but for me faith comes first. My Christian faith and the Bible is what is most important to me."
The service was presided over by the rugby ace's father, Eni Folau.
When asked about the Instagram post, Folau replied: "I was directed by what it says in the Bible and from my point of view I share that with a whole lot of love."
A fellow church member seemed to back Folau's stance when he said: "God didn't call us to live as drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters.
"We do not only stand with Izzy but we stand with the God that is in him."
The sermon went on to warn those "living in sin, unless you repent of your sins, and you are baptised in the name of Jesus Christ - you will end up in hell".
"That is the truth … Those that are living with God, we need to understand that we will suffer persecution. We must continue to stand firm on the word of God and continue to spread the gospels,'' the church member said.
Folau's $4 million contract with Rugby Australia is set to be terminated after he posted the homophobic material on social media which outraged large sections of the public.
The Wallabies and Waratah star is under contract until 2022.
His new contract reportedly included a social media clause that would allow rugby bosses to sack him if he was found to have posted any further offensive material on social media following another attack on homosexuals last year, where he publicly stood against same-sex marriage.
Folau and Rugby Australia are heading for a bitter legal showdown after crisis talks broke down last Friday.
"Whilst Israel is entitled to his religious beliefs, the way in which he has expressed these beliefs is inconsistent with the values of the sport," a Rugby Australia statement read. "We want to make it clear that he does not speak for the game with his recent social media posts."