Does God Make Mistakes? What Happened After Israel Folau’s Homophobic Post

“Encourage yourself, believe in yourself, and love yourself. Never doubt who you are.”
~ Stephanie Lahart

*Note – names and details have been changed to protect the identities of those involved. I have been given permission to post this story on the condition that this family remain anonymous. It’s a long read and an important one. Maybe make yourself a cuppa before you start.

One Saturday afternoon in Brisbane a few months ago, I heard a knock at my door. There stood a sweaty eager-faced young boy with grazed knees, clutching a bicycle helmet and a grubby envelope. His bike, wheels still spinning, was laying on the lawn in my front yard.

‘You’re Nicole Cody, right?’ he said. ‘I’m Matt. My parents have seen you. You know, Julie and David Smith. I’d like to see you too please.’ He handed me the envelope which was stuffed with five and ten dollar notes. ‘That’s my mowing money. Is it enough?’

I handed back his money, got him to stow his bike in our garage and invited him upstairs into my office. ‘No charge,’ I said. ‘Let’s just have a chat instead’

And then Matt told me his problem, cracking my heart open with his honesty and self-awareness.

‘I’ve got a big problem,’ he said. ‘You see, I’m gay. You know, a homosexual. I’m sure about that. I was born this way and I’ve known since I was little. I’m only twelve, so I’m not sexually active yet, but I’m attracted to men, not women. I’ve already had crushes. Not with my friends or anything. Just with people on TV and stuff. You know, all kids get crushes. When I was little I wanted to marry Justin Bieber. I thought you could marry anyone when I was little, but now I’m old enough to know better.’

‘So this gay thing is a problem for me right now,’ Matt continued. ‘You know Dad was a footballer, and my older brothers are all good at football, and I love playing football and maybe if people know I am gay or if my school knows they will ask me not to play any more, or my friends won’t want to be around me in case I fall in love with them, but I don’t think it works like that anyway. And it gets even worse than that. It’s a lot of problems.’ He sighed heavily.

I asked him to tell me more.

‘The biggest problems are all mixed up together and they are that I haven’t told my parents yet, and I’m worried about what they will say or maybe they will be ashamed of me or they won’t love me the same way any more. Right now they love me and they don’t know, and we don’t have any gay people as our friends so homosexuality is not a thing they know much about.

‘I don’t think they’ll be happy about my news. Dad was against the Gay Marriage Bill. Then when we were at Church last weekend the Minister was really negative about gay people and their lifestyles. I’m not sure what he meant but he is God’s representative and I really like him. So that upset me because if he knows I am gay he won’t approve of me and he won’t like me anymore, or maybe he will need me to leave that church, or maybe he will ask me to change but I prayed and prayed to God to change me already and nothing ever happened.’

Matt started to cry. Tears trickled down his cheeks and I slid a box of tissues over to him.

‘Keep going,’ I said. ‘I’m listening.’

‘Well, there is this footballer. His name is Israel Folau, and he is one of my favourite athletes because he is so good and talented and he wrote this thing about gay people and how we are going to Hell and so that’s two people who are important to me and both of them are telling me that I am a bad person and a faulty person because I am gay. I follow Mr Folau on Instagram and that’s where I saw this.’

He’d saved a copy of the post on his phone, and he showed it to me.

I noticed that Israel Folau would probably include me and most of my community under the label of ‘witchcraft’. I’ve been up against this kind of ignorance before.

‘That must have been difficult for you to read,’ I said, ‘especially coming from someone you respect and admire.’

‘It was. Really difficult.’

Matt looked suddenly smaller in the chair. He was just a boy, after all. A boy who should have been out playing footie with his friends.

He started again. ‘I know you are not a minister but my mum says you are really wise and a kind of Earth Angel and so I thought you would know the answer to this big question I have that is all I can think about.’

I nodded encouragingly. I couldn’t speak for the lump in my throat.

‘My question is…’

He paused and then his voice got so quiet that I had to lean in to hear him.

‘My question is does God make mistakes, and am I just a mistake?’

It took all I had not to cry with him.

He kept going. ‘Israel Folau says that I am going to hell with the drunks and liars and thieves and other bad people. I am only twelve and I am trying my best. I thought God loved me but now I don’t know anymore. I just feel bad and ashamed. I don’t know what to do.’

Then he said the thing that made my heart stop.

‘It makes me feel so bad that I wish I was dead. I think everyone might be better off without me if I can’t fix this problem.’

The boy was crying so much now that he was a tear and snot-soaked mess. We talked some more about how God is Love, and that if God is Love then God can only have love for Matt and that he wasn’t a mistake at all. He was simply part of the beautiful diversity that is humanity. When he was calm I made him a cup of tea and then I rang his mum, Julie. She came straight over and I supported Matt while he had a very hard conversation with his mum about his sexuality. Both of them cried and we all hugged and Julie promised her son that she still loved him and that everything would be okay.

Then Julie sent Matt downstairs to put his bike on the racks on the back of her car. ‘I’ve thought that he might be gay ever since he was two or three,’ she said. ‘And of course his Dad will be okay with it. It’s 2019. We’re a modern family. All we want for our boys is that they are healthy and happy.’

‘Did you know he’s been thinking about harming himself?’ I asked.

Julie went pale. ‘No,’ she said, her eyes filling with tears. ‘Okay, thanks for letting me know. I’ll take him home now and we’ll get this sorted.’ We hugged again and she drove away.

I was deeply affected by my visit from Matt. Matt’s homosexuality is not a ‘lifestyle choice’. He is a child of only twelve. He was born this way and has felt this way since his earliest memories. As Israel Folau might see it, Matt was made that way by God. If God is all-powerful and all-loving, then this is no mistake but an act of pure love. Matt is a clever, kind, funny and sensitive boy who is popular at school, a good sportsman, an active member of his church and a good citizen. It devastated me to see him feeling so judged and condemned that he was contemplating self-harm.

Like Matt, I struggled as a child, being different to others and feeling like I was ‘a mistake’. I was born the way I am too. I am psychic. I’ve been this way all my life. I can’t change it. It’s hard-wired into who I am. It took a long time for me to be open about my abilities as an adult for fear of being judged. Many Christians have ridiculed, humiliated, judged and bullied me. I’ve had people refuse to sit beside me at conferences after finding out who I am, quoting Leviticus (the Bible) to me: “If a person turns to mediums and necromancers, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.” and “A man or a woman who is a medium or a necromancer shall surely be put to death. They shall be stoned with stones; their blood shall be upon them.” I don’t believe that. I believe that we come from Love and return to Love, and that love and kindness are more Godly than judgement and cruelty.

Julie rang me late yesterday. Matt is in hospital after a suicide attempt. He’s twelve. He’s a great kid who has been terribly distressed by everything that is happening right now about Israel Folau’s fight with Rugby Australia over Folau’s right to freedom of speech, and about Matt’s idol’s continued stance on homosexuality as a sin against God.

Israel Folau, I support your right to your own opinion and to practice the religious beliefs of your choice. But you are also a role model and a public figure representing your country, a club brand and a sporting code. As part of that code, and your acceptance of your role within that code and the pay packets you received as an employee of that code, you had a duty of care to uphold the values of that code and to not do harm to your fans and supporters. You have failed that duty of care.

I am struggling to find the words right now for the fallout your post and subsequent actions have created. If any good is to come of it, then I hope that is this – we start having the conversations we need to have around these issues, and that we can find a way forward as a community that is inclusive, compassionate and kind.

With much love, Nicole xx

PS – Need help? In Australia you can contact Kids Helpline or  Lifeline, and for people outside Australia you can find help here.

Hi! I'm Nicole Cody. I am a writer, psychic, metaphysical teacher and organic farmer. I love to read, cook, walk on the beach, dance in the rain and grow things. Sometimes, to entertain my cows, I dance in my gumboots. Gumboot dancing is very under-rated.
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28 thoughts on “Does God Make Mistakes? What Happened After Israel Folau’s Homophobic Post

  1. Thank you for sharing this story. This whole situation is very sad. I shared this story & was attacked & told by a stranger, it was made up & part of an “agenda” & that I should be ashamed of myself for sharing it. Was also told “my type” were ruining Falou’s life even tho he’s done nothing to us. I literally can not believe the hatred that this whole situation has brought to the surface. Grateful to you for sharing this story cause this is what’s of paramount importance here. Someone my age can read something like Falou posted & go yeah whatever but a young impressionable person can be deeply affected. I feel saddened someone would think this was made up to serve an “agenda”. Politicians & various groups are using this to further their aims & it’s quite disgusting. I sincerely hope this young man is ok & knows he is loved just as he is. <3

    1. As you well know, I have no agenda except to live from Love. Friends and family supported me when Matt first came to me, months ago. His admission that he thought he was a mistake was heartbreaking and I was very distressed after his visit.
      Right now this young man is indeed being well taken care of by medical staff, his family and some great counsellors who are not just looking after his health, but his mental health and guarding his privacy fiercely. In the end, all I care about is his welfare and the welfare of his family, and of spreading this message so that the LGBTQIA community is supported. These people are marginalised. IF we don’t stand with them and stand up for them, who will? As one of my Christian friends said, that’s what Jesus would have done. Nx

    2. Thx Nicole. So pleased to hear Matt is getting the help & support he needs. And yes I know you have only an agenda of love. I’m an empath & can feel that. So glad Matt went to you for help. Divinely led I’m sure 💚😇

      As a gay woman myself thanks for supporting the LGBTIQA community. The same dude who disbelieved your story is under the impression gays are privleged & whingers! There’s a very nasty undercurrent out there atm sadly. So glad to hear from people who actually get it. Thx again for sharing 💙🙏😇💚🌈

    1. Jason, thanks for this great link. It’s a wonderful read and I encourage everyone to check it out!

    2. Hi Jason, I’m quoting this in tomorrow’s blog because I hope more people will read it and understand. Thank you xx

  2. Hi Nic, what a sad powerful story. I came across David Pocock the other day, another Christian sportsman – quite the opposite of Falou and worth a read – supports gay friends, gay marriage – an amazing read in comparison xxxx God doesn’t make mistakes, just makes us all unique and loved xxxx

  3. There is a big wide world out there Matt, which I hope you get to experience and discover. The world is so much bigger than the opinions of an ignorant few, please don’t let this controversy rob you of your right to live your life as you choose and enjoy all it has to offer.

  4. Thanks Nic for the love that you share, the compassion that is in your heart, and the warrior within, I honour and respect the woman that you are….. much love Paul

  5. Dear Matt,

    Oh, how I cried, reading your story! I so hope you are fine now! I am a mother to a 11 year-old boy.
    You sound like such a good kid facing the complexity of this world.
    And you just learned a very big lesson for someone so young: It is important to
    question everything, even your role model. This Mr. Folau (I never heard of him, nobody knows him in Germany), might be a good football player, that doesn’t make him a good person or a person with an interesting mind and a good heart.
    In fact, I would say that you, with your 12 years of age sound like someone who already has a better heart and a broader mind than this big football star of yours!
    If somebody or something in life makes you feel cheap about yourself, than you make sure to get away from that somebody or something. I personaly think that God is so much more than what any religion can ever tell us.
    I am glad you went to Nicole and I am glad she wrote about you. From today on, I will hold you in my thoughts and send love and energy. You go get yourself a great life with lots of love and fun 🙂
    Cécile

    1. Thanks Cecile! Be assured that Matt’s family are reading all of these comments and saving them for Matt xx

  6. That is just so heartbreaking. This post has been on my mind all day, It has lead me to have some big important conversations with my sons today.
    Thanks for sharing Nicole, I wish everyone in Australia could read this post 😢

  7. God is love, and he doesn’t make mistakes. Both you and Matt are beautiful, loving children of the Creator. I hope Matt will find another person to make his hero, one who is accepting of people the way they are. I pray both you and Matt can surround yourselves with people who love you for you, as we do. The Bible was written by men, and rewritten by men, who all feel their contributions are from God. We all must come to know God in our own way, and understand who we are to him – pure love, as He is to us. Sending you much love.

  8. Today’s blog really made me cry, for the loss of humanity and respect for the individual .
    Matt’s attempted suicide, and the “successful” one yesterday has left me feeling a bit bereft, tears just rolling down my cheeks at random moments. It will stop because I know there are people who care and love me.
    Most of these “hate” quotes are from the Old Testament.
    There is a lot of garbage in them. (in fact, Levicticus is almost pornographic. It is so backward and negative)
    Jesus, Mohammed, and other modern day prophets preach love. That is what the New Testament is about.
    I gave up on formal religion a few years ago and I think I am a better person for it. I have gained more spirituality and now try and spread the love round a bit.
    As an Earth Angel (what a lovely description) I am so thankful you are in my world.
    Thank you for what you do.
    Love and hugs and big smiles to all

  9. I am so glad you wrote this article Nicole. It is very powerful and very important for people to read and to start having conversations about. Thank you! My heart goes out to Matt and his family. They are in my prayers.

  10. Tired of people hiding behind their invisible friends to spout hate and judgement. You are much more eloquent than me on this subject. My thoughts and love are with “Matt” and his family and anyone struggling with what others (especially heros/heroines and institutions) think negatively about them. What a beautiful soul Matt is – and he shouldn’t be in this much pain. It’s a travesty that people are so hurtful and unthinking and hateful. Love is the answer. Love is the only way. Love to all (no exceptions!)

  11. I also suspected one of my children was gay from a young age. I made sure that she knew how much I value my friends that happened to be gay. I made sure I was informed on issues that affect the LGBTQ 🏳️‍🌈 community and supported expanding their rights. We distanced ourselves from unsupportive churches. When my child wanted to reveal her orientation, she was unafraid and my husband and I were accepting. When she told us that inside, she was a boy and wanted to change her name and gender, we took a deep breath, accepted that and continue to love him. He’s doing well at university now and thriving. Our family is strong because our love is stronger than the way we were raised. It can be done. Thank you for supporting this young man. All our LGBTQ youth need that.

    1. I’m so grateful that your child’s experience has been one of love and positivity and acceptance. Thank you for your post – I know it will help and encourage many. Nx

  12. Dear Nicole, may I share the paragraph about Israel Folau failing in his duty of care on my FB page. I believe this sums up the issue perfectly. I have no problem with him practicing his religion, I do have a problem with him merging his private and professional lives where he owes different allegiances and has different responsibilities.

    I do so hope Matt is OK. I am crying inside and out.

  13. I am heartbroken for this little boy! When will we ever learn that love and inclusion is the answer not hate and exclusion?
    I left the christian religion when I was a teenager because I couldn’t reconcile being taught to “Love thy neighbour” (which to me meant being kind and loving to everybody and everything in the world) and learning about the atrocities committed in the name of religion..

  14. It always boggles my mind that people can share so much hate while saying it’s god’s words. How can words of hate be from god when these same people say god is love. If god is love (which is what I like to believe), then love is all that should be shared in the name of god. No hate and judgement…… Religion… it has a lot to answer for.
    I feel for this boy and his family. Sending my love to them all in this incredibly distressing time♥️

    And Nicole, utterly shocked by the words you have been told. I really can not for one second understand why people have to be so utterly nasty. Shocking!! Hug to you too. Thank you for rising above that and sharing your wisdom and knowledge with the world♥️

    1. These are quotes from the Bible that have been leveraged in a certain way. The Bible is an old book with many different authors, and there are many beautiful wisdoms and comforting passages within that book, regardless of your faith. But there are also passages that are violent, homophobic, misogynistic and plainly of-the-time beliefs that no longer hold sway in a modern society. There are passages to uphold almost any point of view you could want to name.

      I struggle with the idea of a loving God and a loving Church and a loving congregation or solo believer who continues to use fear and hate to drive a message instead of choosing love.

      There are many people of many faiths who choose to practice respect, tolerance, love and good work in the world as an expression of their faith. Let’s hope that we are able to have these necessary conversations so that everyone feels heard and understood and so that we can move back to love.

  15. My heart is broken for beautiful Matt. As a mother of 2 boys close to this age I am devastated. We need more people coming forth to say these comments are doing so much damage. I am angry with Israel Folau and to think the so call “Christians” are backing him makes my blood boil. I was hoping we were moving in the right direction with the legalisation of gay marriage but I feel one idiot (still angry) has undone all the good work. I will pray for Matt and his family. Hoping Matt can get well and know GOD IS LOVE AND THERE ARE NO MISTAKES! He is perfect. We need you here on Earth Matt.

  16. That is absolutely heartbreaking, my heart goes out to this lad and his family. He so deserves to feel safe in his own feelings and who he is as a person , what a relief to know his parents support him and I hope they can wrap him in unconditional love while he learns that his God loves him, just the way he is. I truly hope he recovers from his suicide attempt and that he can receive the help he needs to work through this.. He is meant to be here, his life matters.

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