The furore over Israel Folau's narrow-minded, judgmental Instagram post - that consigns all gays to hell unless they come to Jesus - brings back unpleasant memories.

In the lead-up to Parliament voting on the Civil Union Bill in 2004 and then again on the same-sex marriage bill in 2013, the issue of gay marriage, and homosexuality in general, was a hot topic on talkback.

Night after night, people would ring me and offer (often very forceful) opinions as to why allowing two men or two women to commit to a legal relationship was another step on the road to perdition.

It was degrading marriage, one caller told me. I pointed out he'd told me on a previous call he was on to his third marriage. Surely he'd done more to degrade the institution than a couple who'd been together for 25 years and wanted to tie the knot?


He insisted relationships between men and women were privileged and it had always been Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve - and dear lord, if I heard that line once, I heard it a thousand times.

Not all callers were anti, but the majority of those who wanted to air their views publicly were.

None of us learned anything on those nights. Any time there's a conscience vote topic - same-sex marriage, abortion, decriminalising prostitution or not smacking children - talkback just serves as a place for people to vent their respective spleen.

And mine included.

Pummelling me with selective quotes from the Old Testament is not going to make me change my mind any more than my liberal standpoint is going to make them change theirs. It got soul-destroying.

I know there are people, like Folau and his wife, Maria, who genuinely believe homosexuality is wrong. Just as people like me and my friends, gays and straights, genuinely believe that Folau, his wife and their mates are bigoted, uneducated fools.

And where does that get us? Just nastiness all round.

So why don't we keep our thoughts to ourselves?

Never was the meme that's been doing the rounds for years more appropriate. "Religion (and beliefs) are like penises. It's fine to have one, and to be perfectly proud of it, but when you take it out and start waving it in my face, then we have a problem."

I really thought this conversation was done. I thought it was only a few antediluvian relics and old-school, orthodox religious fanatics who still had a problem with what people did in their private lives. But it appears not.

I've been heartened by the response from some of the rugby fraternity, and of many younger men and women on public platforms, who see Folau as an aberration.

Maybe this isn't going to be an issue for the next generation. I fervently hope so. In the meantime, I don't know why Folau is wasting his energy. If he believes in God and in a cruel and judgmental, fire and brimstone kind of a God, why doesn't he sit back, take a load off and let the Big Guy upstairs sort it out when we individually cark it?

Folau has the right to his opinion. But he has to understand that with freedom of speech comes the responsibility to ensure his words do no harm. If anyone doubts gay men and women are vulnerable, read TVNZ's Kim Baker Wilson's poignant story of being the victim of a hate crime.

In the end, I feel sorry for Folau and his ilk. They're the ones missing out. I am proud of my friends, straight, gay, bi and curious. You can keep your black-and-white, simplistic, moralistic God, Folau, and pray for a better life in the hereafter.

I'll keep my colourful, compassionate and loving community. I'm living my better life now. And so are many of the beautiful men and women you dare to condemn.

Kerre McIvor's Sunday Sessions is on NewstalkZB today, 9am-noon.