Religious Freedoms Debate: Winning the Argument or Winning the Soul?

Berni Dyment and Israel Folau

As the issues of religious freedoms are in the thoughts of many Christian and mainstream commentators right now, it may be a good time to reflect on another dimension of the controversy surrounding rugby player Israel Folau.

Israel’s story has dominated the headlines because of his Instagram post that led to the loss of his contract with Rugby Australia.

People all over Australia have been passing their own judgement with many everyday Aussies not wanting to interrupt their blissful life of living with acknowledging the very dire consequences of sin.

Apart from the fact that the LGBTQI+ community is outraged that the Bible doesn’t affirm their choices, what has come to light and should be a concern to every one of us is the degree to which society as a whole is completely ignorant of the basic Gospel message.

So how can we as Christians stand for Biblical truth and not burn bridges in our eagerness to win the argument?  How do we make sure that we’re not missing opportunities to share God’s love and ultimately winning a soul?

Berni Dyment of ChristianityWorks spoke to Neil Jonson on Vision Christian Radio’s 20Twenty program to share his perspective on this issue.

“It’s not an easy thing,” Berni says about getting the balance right. “On the one hand we want to live in a free society where we can say and think what we like.  On the other hand, I think there is a risk of Christian tribalism and us being offended by our rights being taken away.”

“It’s easy for us to step over a line where we start to think it’s about winning the argument and protecting our rights, whereas Jesus didn’t call us to do that.”

“I’m not saying there is anything wrong with us participating in the debate or talking about religious freedom. At the end of the day, we are not called to win an argument; we are called to win souls.”

“I know on my own social media account I have many friends who are not Christians.  So, before I post things on my Facebook page, I think about how are they going to perceive it.  Am I going to push them away from Jesus, or draw closer them to Jesus?”

However, could those called to engage in the religious freedom debate be actually sparking an opportunity to share the Gospel?

“I’ve been praying for quite some time that something would break in the psyche of our nation, that this spirit of promiscuity and individualism over our society would break.”

“Honestly, when you look at what Izzy Folau has done by paraphrasing the Bible in that meme, and the firestorm it’s created, I think God often brings opportunity in difficult times.  And hats off to Izzy for standing true to what he believes.”

Martyn Iles of the Australian Christian Lobby with Israel Folau

“When I look at Martyn Iles and his performance on television and radio, there is a young man who is so gifted and so anointed by God to speak in a measured, sensible way.  Even if not agreeing with him, [people are] at least listening to him and saying, ‘well maybe this guy is not as crazy as I thought he was.’”

So if we’re not one of those called to be a public voice in the fight for religious freedoms like Martyn and Israel, what should we be doing?  How should we communicate the truth of the Gospel in a loving but uncompromising way?

“I am never going to compromise what I believe; I will always stand up and say what I believe to be the truth in love.  But at the same time, my job isn’t to drive those wedges deeper, my job is to try and bring people together.”

“Not everybody is going to agree with me.  I believe what Izzy Folau put on his post is absolutely correct.  After all, it comes from the Word of God, but there are ways of talking, and there are ways of sharing that can bring people closer together.”

In the interview below, Berni goes on to share about what happened when several prominent non-Christians came over to his house for dinner and had a complete misconception about what the Bible says about what sin is, and who will and won’t go to hell.

Tune into 20Twenty and join the conversation with Neil Johnson, weekdays on Vision Christian Radio. Click here for your local times.

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Images in this article sourced from:
Berni Dyment –
Martyn Iles – ACL Facebook
Israel Folau – [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons


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