I’ve had enough, and I’ve heard enough.
There is perhaps no greater evil upon all the earth than those who pillage the person and message of Jesus, and shroud their hate, arrogance, privilege, and imperialism under the guise of godliness, biblical faithfulness, purity, and the valuing of life.
Jesus understood there would be those who would exploit His truth and hustle a gospel that is in fact, no Gospel at all. In so doing, He asserted the importance of observing the fruit of a potential imposter’s beliefs in hopes of discerning and circumventing the cut of their spiritual claws.
Rev. Franklin Graham has become the mouthpiece of conservative Evangelical Christianity. With its deceptive mixed-message of “God loves you…but,” filled with traps, conditions, and controls, this increasingly aggressive movement within Christianity has had a long history of sowing seeds of poisoned fruit. Since the dawn of discrimination, conservative Evangelical Christianity has been a prominent enabler of racism. In fact, only in 1995 did its Southern Baptist denomination finally, but reluctantly, apologize to the black community for their intimate role in using the Bible to endorse racism and slavery. Conservative Evangelical Christianity is the leading incubator for the vile theology of Calvinism which portrays God as hand-picking some for heaven and joyfully discarding the rest to an eternity of tormenting hell—all founded by a man who murdered his disagreers. Christian conservatism has led the way in the discrimination of women in ministry, work, and home—even turning a blind eye to domestic and church abuse. Where once, Evangelical Christianity aggressively condemned the divorced to an eternity in hell, it cleverly came up with the word, “desertion,” to serve as a kind of biblical loophole, enabling those men left behind by the women who wised-up and “deserted’ them, to have the freedom to play another round. In fact, it was a conservative brand of Christianity that influenced Adolf Hitler towards Nazism and sat firmly in the hearts of those European settlers who raped the American Indian of their land, life, and culture for some kind of “Manifest Destiny.” Now, with a heart to spiritually and culturally exterminate those it deems to be sinning, conservative Evangelical Christianity is the dominant faith understanding behind the spread of homophobia and the false condemnation of the LGBTQ community, conveniently adding the word “homosexual” to the Bible, where it hadn’t appeared in any translation until 1945.
With the drastic uptick of good people leaving churches, thinking for themselves, questioning their indoctrination, and opening their eyes to the piles of carnage left in the wake of Christian conservatism, a perfect storm with a perfect kind of Satan has emerged. Franklin Graham has climbed up the cliffs of Evangelical Christianity’s fiery pit to lead the way in trumpeting their desperate call to war—a battle purposed on retaking that which they perceive to have lost as the world awakens to their evil.
Make no mistake, Franklin Graham and the perverted faith-understanding he represents is far from the heart of Jesus and many of us who follow Him alone. We deplore the nationalization of any faith, the discrimination of any person, the weaponizing of any Bible, and the condemnation of any soul. The disgusting Americanized version of Jesus and His Gospel that has given rise to Empire Christianity, church franchising, spiritually arrogant congregants and faith communities, and privileged, judging, and elitist followers makes us all want to vomit, right along side you. We are appalled, repulsed, and infuriated at was has become of the Jesus we adore and the Grace-centered faith that liberates us.
With all due respect to Mr. Franklin Graham, as good and spiritual as his ministry to the poor throughout the world appears and surely blesses, as much as he quotes the Bible and exclusively claims to possess and know its every truth, as much as his father was a beacon of faith, compassion, and a love for God, and as much as he postures himself as valuing life, moral wholeness, and biblical faithfulness, the screeching sound of his bigotry, pride, self-righteousness, mean-spirited condemnation, and imperialistic faith overtakes and overshadows all.
For where Jesus brings freedom, he seems determined to wrench down with control. Where Jesus brings Grace, he is quick to draw lines of condemnation. Where Jesus defines and redefines scripture, he worships it as perfect and claims to know it infallibly. Where God is pure Love, he claims He is not purely. Where Grace is declared sufficient, he says it isn’t completely. Where Jesus makes it personal and communal, he wants to make it political and national. Where Jesus makes it all completely free, he and his faith-understanding makes it all so conditionally conditional.
Everything Jesus stands for, Franklin Graham seems to stand so firmly against—a sermon on a Mount, apparently makes little-to-no difference.
For where do we see him serving the LGBTQ community? Where do we see him truly loving the enemy? Where do see him refusing to lean on his own understanding, and instead displaying a spirituality of listening? Where do we see him washing the feet of people who are transgender? Where do we see him laying down his life to escort one safely into a bathroom? Where do we see him truly loving his neighbor—Islamic, Atheist, Progressive, or even Illegal Alien? Where do we see him fighting for the rights of the marginalized, discriminated, and even those with whom he disagrees, instead of vehemently gripping onto the privilege of the privileged? Where do we see him rationalizing, excusing, and giving grace to sin on behalf of those who sin differently than he, instead of only doing so for those from whom he can gain power, influence, and the furthering of his faith ideology? Where do we see him trusting the Spirit to guide people in all truth instead of trying to control, contain, and conform them?
So, why should I give care and credibility to the sin he claims to see in me, everyone, and everything, when it’s clear he’s entirely oblivious to the storehouse of depravity to be seen right within his own being? Why should I line up to be assimilated into his spiritual Borg and learn the marching steps of his creed, when it’s become so blatantly clear it’s a faith understanding that doesn’t want to just normalize hate, but give it spiritual necessity? Why should I bow down to his biblical interpretations, faith perspectives, and God teachings when it all seems to desire nothing more than to control, condemn, and conform me into his image and faith collective?
Make no mistake, I refuse and resist with all my being in becoming anything like the King of disowning. My soul, worth, and value is not, nor will ever become, the imminent domain of any self-righteous, faith ideology.
The true message of Jesus is that God is proud to belong to me and every other, especially in all the places and ways that Franklin Graham and conservative Evangelical Christianity despise me and all others.
Dear world, Franklin Graham is not our leader, not our pastor, not our spokesperson, nor our example—and with all due respect, in my personal opinion, he’s nothing like Jesus.
I think if Jesus sat and listened to one of Mr. Franklin Graham’s (I won’t call him Rev.) sermons, then exited and shook the man’s hand, Mr. Graham wouldn’t even recognize Jesus in his presence. How sad, disgusting, angering, and frustrating to know every one of the big flashy televangelists who don’t accept their neighbor as themselves, as God accepts and loves us all without all the strings attached, –how awful to know how many deluded people are following these wolves in sheep’s clothing and are headed for the edge of a cliff. But for the grace of God, there go I. But, I stand with you in the desire to live a Jesus-life of grace. What an amazing thing grace is!! Thank you, Chris, for being such a voice crying in the wilderness.
Absoutely Gale. And I wholeheartedly walk with Chris’ words: “I refuse and resist with all my being in becoming anything like the King of disowning. My soul, worth, and value is not, nor will ever become, the imminent domain of any self-righteous, faith ideology.”
O that Franklin would experience the grace that is available to him right now even as he extends none to those who desperately need it.
Another bullseye, Chris!
Thank you Paul!
Thanks Chris, for outlining this force that seems to be swallowing up more and more Jesus followers. Isn’t this type of faith following the definition of an occult? The use of fear of any one leaving their system of control & punishment type of faith will surely result in their going to hell. The need to reject and discredit their family and parents who believe in grace and the living of the love of Christ (even believing family and parents are headed to hell). The belief and use of the superiority of the parishioners above everyone else even condoning the missteps of the leaders. etc.
The winners-losers dichotomy in their evaluation of Christians is much of what the culture wars are all about. For instance, women will vote to make life harder for other women to avoid abuse, rape, and the bearing of children of rapists, because they belong to a winners church. Politicians have massaged this into a tremendous power that currently has given them control of the country and threatens the very core liberties within our constitution.
These are sorry times.
Nancy, well said!
Nancy, I think you hit a partcular nail on the head – it is occult behaviour, and it has very little, if anything, to do with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I second it. I have felt what Chris has said for decades. I have stood up for it and been ostracized in church congregations many times over. I am very saddened by the talk of Mr Graham and those of his ilk. I began to be unhappy whenFocus on the FAmily, started focusing on everything but the family–i.e. problems outside the church. If we would look to urselves and fix ourselves, then we can be the light we are supposed to be. But as Chris Says, most don’t think they need God’s grace….
Nancy, I think you mean “a cult” rather than “occult”.
I guess I don’t understand your blog posts. I thought you were about grace and encouraging your followers. It seems that you believe the only way to encourage your “people” is to blast others you so obviously disagree with.
I really struggle to see the love and grace you claim to manifest when all I read is hate and anger.
But maybe I misunderstood your ministry goals. Maybe this post isn’t really about affirming anyone. Maybe its more about promoting a new brand of hate and condemnation – your brand.
Grace is not the absence of confronting evil, nor is it turning a blind eye to abuse. It is regrettable that this article is descriptive of and raises questions regarding sure evils within conservative Christianity you are perhaps unwilling to confront. It’s much easier to deflect it all with responses like, “you are the one condemning and judging” Yet, where am I condemning Mr. Franklin Graham to an eternity in hell? Where am I seeking to deny him equal rights? Where am I fundamentally labeling him an abomination and a disgrace to God? Where am I sending him out of church and telling his parents to disown him? Where I am insisting he undergo reparative therapy for simply being himself? Where am I placing him under the Law and dictating the rules he should keep, or else? I would challenge you to read the article, search your soul, answer the questions raised and then listen to the voices of those crying out under the oppression of Christian conservatism. Thanks for reading the article and taking time to comment.
Chris can you point to one place that Graham has said that it is someone’s works that saves them from Hell?
Are convervitive Christians, like Graham, part of the one unified boby of Christ the Paul talks about or do you view them on the outside of the body?
Where has Graham called people to disown kids and kick them out of their house?
One more question while I am asking, in your own words what is the Good News that Jesus came to bring?
Hey Tim, I saw where you attempted to come onto my Facebook page and troll it. We’re not friends on fb, yet you felt the need to chime in, not with a genuine desire to learn a different perspective, but with accusation and questions for which you really weren’t looking for an answer, but rather an argument. I am more than willing to be in dialogue with those who genuinely are seeking it, yet I’m discerning enough to recognize those that aren’t.
Jehovah God has clearly given us 10 commandments to live by…whether you like it or not.
Wow this would have to be the biggest load of crap that I’ve read in a long time.
Your doing a great job undermining and pulling down a brother in Christ, our enemy will be impressed with you, not that you believe in him either.
Instead of spewing all this vitriolic hate talk against a brother who is known by his abundance of fruits how about just living your life and sowing your seed in love, as it stands now it’s shameful and embarrassing to read
“Abundance of fruits”? Which fruits would those be?
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
I don’t see joy, peace, kindness, gentleness, forbearance, or self-control in Graham’s words and actions. He is mean-spirited in his zeal to demonize LGBT people, Muslims, and others. His actions belie any claims he can make of goodness and love, save for *some* of his work through Samaritan’s Purse. Perhaps he has faithfulness, simply because he repeatedly tells us he does.
Tell me, in whipping up fear of refugees, in hinting at a need for military strikes against Islam, which of these fruits of the spirit has he shown?
Well said, Jeff. Thanks for taking the time to share your reflections to Norm’s comments.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Romans 12:9
… Like Jesus Did
I fail to see one dot of “vitriolic hate” in Chris’ words, on the contrary. And yet there is so much ill-will in the words of Franklin Graham. Perhaps you might be a little more specific ?
I would agree with you.
I agree Norm. The author has a unique view of the Bible and History
Finally, someone pointed out the appalling and so clearly uneducated misuse of the word “your”….! Thank you, Barbara!
By the tone of your post, Norm…and your vulgar phrases I doubt
the validity of the religious belief you say you subscribe to. Franklin is
not a “brother in Christ” for those Jesus came to redeem. He presents himself
as a hater, unlike his father.
Let he who is without sin cast the first stone
You seem quick to judge Mr Graham.
Interesting how the thing you say you do not like the most, you are in fact doing to him.
Accusing the brethren.
Quick to judge? Given Graham’s history of his actions and words, as neatly laid out in this post, there is nothing QUICK about any judgment you think you see here.
But, go ahead, pretend you don’t see what Franklin Graham is doing. Pretend that this blog post doesn’t speak to his unchristlike actions that he repeatedly performs. Pretend that all you see here is someone attacking a ‘man of God.’
It’s easier for you to do that, rather than recognize the pain Graham causes scores of human beings, pain in which you may have been complicit.
Jeff, I think you are definitely onto something. A fair and wise response to Ashley. Thank you.
No judgement here, just denying that Mr Graham speaks for us as Christians. I don’t see Mr Graham giving Muslims the same grace that God gave us. Instead of seeing them as the enemy, we should see them as “victims of the enemy” who are in need of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no grey area to “love your neighbors as much as we love ourselves”. It’s no secret that Franklin Graham keeps his hand in the donation box. He makes 1 million dollars a year off of Samaritans purse., that’s public information. So thankful for the honesty Mr Kratzer!!
Ck, well said, thanks for reading the article and taking the time to comment!
If his own words were not considered, the fact that he endorses Trump as a Christian serves to mislead others. Trumps actions go against the gospel of Jesus. He does not set an example in following the teachings of Jesus. He does not welcome the strangers to our land, his actions in taking health care away from so many, will harm them and their families. The poor are demonized in this country and his creed is to give tax credits to the rich corporations and cut the programs who help the poor. Love your neighbor means exactly what it says without a footnote that says “except those who are gay, Jewish, Muslim, atheist, foreigners, or others they don’t understand. There is one God, who is our creator. His love knows no bounds, he understands the feelings of an individual better than they do themselves. Their behavior tries to limit God’s unending love.
Well done, Chris! A bold article that spells it out clearly.
Ashley, it’s not so much a judgment as a clear, bold look at what gospel it is that the man is representing. Does he represent Jesus to you? Is this what Jesus is about?
Wow! Incredible! I turned away from Christianity in my early 20s because I couldn’t stand the lack of love (that is Jesus’s core message) and volumes of hypocrisy it stood for…. not understanding at that time, it was the messengers need for control, not the message, that I despised. Then I found All Saints Church in Pasadena podcasts about 2 years ago, and it completely changed my perspective. What you wrote is how I’ve felt for 35 years. Well said!
Thank you Theresa, great to connect with you and receive your comment to this article
I do heartily agree with your criticism of Graham and most of the right-wing lunatics that support him and his pitiful and simplistic theology. However, your comments about “vile” Calvinism reveals that you have been misinformed about Calvin and especially about elements of the Reformed Faith. It is true that in the calm and illuminating glow that comes with time we are able both to appreciate the failures of our otherwise heros and still condemn their sins with more vehemence than did their contemporaries. I suggest you do a fair study of “Calvinism.” Franklin Graham is certainly not a Calvinist. The whole focal point of Reformed Theology is God’s grace to undeserving sinners without reference to past, present or future sins.
Fred, thank you for your comment and reading the article. With deepest respect, I have studied Calvinism extensively and in no way misrepresented its true content. I highly recommend the book “What Love Is This?” by David Hunt.
Thank you for posting this. I had the same thought exactly. The anger toward Calvin seems misplaced and uninformed historically.
Fred, while hearing what you say, ( and perhaps taking Chris’ point out of context? ), I think there is more than a little that is ‘vile’ in just about every denomination of Christ’s Church. ‘MyFather house has many manions’ – and most of them need a thorough good cleaning.
Hooray for you, Chris! Thanks for writing what I’ve been thinking. I appreciate this. It’s sad and unfortunate that Franklin Graham has a stage and a voice in the media. Carry on.
Thank you Barbara for reading the article and taking the time to comment!
It might be more effective, Chris, if you declined to contrast yourSELF and YOUR faith with those whom you are (rightly) rebuking. The way this piece is written it gets awfully close to the Pharisee’s prayer, “I thank thee, Lord, that I am not like HIM.”
Tricky, isn’t it.
Jesus was an insecure bully, so was his pop.
Not sure how preparing condemnation to
ppl who reject absurd claims of supremacy
is a demonstration of love.
From a born again Christian
To Evangelicals of this country
If you love Jesus your country your kids and your fellow American citizens and neighbors just stop talking.
It is time to sacrifice your selfishness your pride your comfort your arrogance and your self righteousness for what Jesus did for you
….with actions leadership and protests
It is interesting to witness the different responses, and that which people ‘read into’ the writers words. I cannot see anything judgemental in your article Chris, nor even ‘rebuking’ Gretchen, ( rightly or wrongly ). What I see is in part criticism – but criticism from a heart of love, addressing the many hurts that the kind of rhetoric that comes from some of the mouths of ministers, priests, and bishops, should be tested – as Jesus tested – and with that same love and compassion.
Sometimes I feel we are at the edge of a new dark age, but with hope I hear the voices of those crying in the wilderness. I am pleased that Chris has the will and courage to write as he does – his eloquent words, in my view, are exactly what the Church, in all its shades, needs to hear right now.
A good point here. As a retired reporter/editor/columnist on religion for a medium-market newspaper, I can’t tell you how often readers insert what they want/expect to see in work like this. Of course it is a critique of Graham’s ministry and a condemnation of its purporting to be “real” or “authentic” Christianity.
It is not a vituperative rant. It is a reasoned comparison of Jesus’ words to Graham’s.
I’m of the belief that Franklin is not as much Evangelical, as he is Fundamentalist.
Fundamentalism usually has a religious connotation that indicates unwavering attachment to a set of irreducible beliefs. However, fundamentalism has come to be applied to a tendency among certain groups—mainly, though not exclusively, in religion—that is characterized by a markedly strict literalism as it is applied to certain specific scriptures, dogmas, or ideologies, and a strong sense of the importance of maintaining ingroup and outgroup distinctions, leading to an emphasis on purity and the desire to return to a previous ideal from which advocates believe members have strayed. Rejection of diversity of opinion as applied to these established “fundamentals” and their accepted interpretation within the group is often the result of this tendency.
Evangelical Christianity is a worldwide, transdenominational movement within Protestant Christianity which maintains the belief that the essence of the gospel consists of the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ’s atonement. Evangelicals believe in the centrality of the conversion or the “born again” experience in receiving salvation, in the authority of the Bible as God’s revelation to humanity, and in spreading the Christian message.
Or, am I incorrect in this thought?
That is correct.
I agree with much of what you say, except
It is not Calvinism, but misguided Calvinism – just as it is misguided Christian theology of any stripe, that those like F. Graham use to support their positions. There were Calvinists who came out with (one of) the strongest condemnations of Nazism, The Barman Declaration.
In the same way, I wouldn’t speak of American Christianity and imperialism, as there is AC that resists that very thing. Historically, however, since hopping into bed with Constantine, imperialism has been a temptation and a threat.
“since hopping into bed with Constantine, imperialism has been a temptation and a threat” – so very true!
Sure Jesus loves all because we are all sinners but, He wants us to repent of our sin and follow Him. Live as He does. He expects us to realize our sin, repent and ask forgiveness and not keep committing same sin. It’s not a revolving door. People can’t think, I know Jesus is all about love so, I will keep committing the same sin again and again because I know He loves me so it will be ok? Really? That makes no sense just as this article!! Everything the person that wrote this accused Franklin Graham of doing and being, he just did to Franklin Graham. I suppose that makes the writer no different than Franklin Graham.
God calls us to call out when the honor of Christ and the clarity of the gospel is at stake and the Christian’s salvation is being jeopardized. Paul vehemently spoke out against those who were dispensing false gospel. There are many examples in the New Testament that speak to the value of correction. We shouldn’t remain silent in the face of the ongoing rebellion against God.
All the ways of men are clean in his own sight. But the LORD weighs the motives. Proverbs 16:2
Why are we defending Franklin Graham as to his Christian righteousness? Mr. Graham (probably to the dismay of his deceased father) campaigns openly and vigorously for the Republican party which is the party of tax cuts and subsidies for the rich, and no regulations on corporations, investment fees, bankers etc. He bends the facts when he campaigns, he is that invested in his politics.
Jesus said that you cannot have two gods. You will love the one and hate the other. Now, national preachers make huge personal monies in their preaching and in their charities. Really, where does Jesus stand in Graham’s life since his political work outshines all that he does?
When did Billy Graham die?
The problem is that whenever we look to men as standard bearers, we become trapped in the swamps of their faults, because no one sees all that clearly. There is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil(judging by standards) and there is the tree of life(communion in love and service) and their is always mixture. Very few “martyrs” go down in the equivalent of crucifixion praying for the forgiveness of their tormentors in genuine love, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.”
Neither the Jesus of the right or of the left is worth a dime. “If anyone would be my disciple, let him take up his cross and come, follow me.” Speak the truth in reason with love and forsake egoism and outrage. Paul told Timothy to avoid needless fights and quarrels, because “the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient.” James said, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace”
A big group of haters here including the author. Sickening to see you people claim to be “real Christians” while acting as anything but.
Only problem, John, St. Paul tells us that church leaders are held to a much higher standard than a lowly person in the pew. A leader in the church must focus on the ministry, not on politics. Leave to Ceaser that which is Ceaser’s and to God that which is God’s. Think of how much higher that standard is when you present yourself as a representative of Christ nationally. On a national level, one claiming to be the mouth piece of Christ should be only about the love and grace of God to every single American…not hatefulness towards minorities and women.
Whoever does not repent of their sins, confess Christ, and be baptized for the remission of their sins, and live in faithful obedience to Christ’s commands until death will not be saved. Mr. Kratzer, you can make Scripture say anything you want it to say if you take it out of context; but if you take it out of context, you put yourself in danger of hell fire. Because God is holy and just, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for their LGBTQ tendencies. The the gracious and merciful God of the New Testament is the same just and holy God of the Old Testament. Repent and become a disciple of Christ before it is too late.
Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. –Romans 1:22-27
Philo, I used to believe as you do, so I understand your perspective and faith background. I would suggest, studying the LGBTQ issue out and seeking out sources that take a different view of the relevant scriptural passages than you do. At the same time, build genuine relationships with people in the LGBTQ community with a true desire to learn and understand.
“…he’s nothing like Jesus.”
Of course, not. None of us are like Jesus. I agree with you in some of your ideas, but you are judging, and at least, he is doing something. Probably, not the way you and I will like, but, even in his conservative exclusive theology he is an instrument of Jesus to transform lives, something non of us do.
I saw him preaching a convertion message, and God used him. There is an inminent need for the Gospel and God shows his Glory in his messages. He does not go into politics, not anything else. He might be whatever you want to call him, but that introduction message for conversion is getting where it is suppose to go, to the heart of those in despair… GBY
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:9-21 NIV
To be honest, I haven’t heard or read much of Graham’s comments, recently or in the past. Within me there seems to be an almost primitive sense to avoid him and people like him when I hear what he espouses. It’s like looking over and seeing a snake lying in the grass next to me. I know enough to be aware–to follow my body’s fight or flight response.
Being a gay man, it took me years to finally come to terms that God loves me as He made me. I was raised to believe just the opposite. I vividly recall the day that I went to God directly and put the question to Him–“God, what is Your will for me?” I remember the immediate peace; where before there had only been self-hatred, anxiety, depression, and isolation. I remember the overwhelming sense of love–the likes of which I had never felt–the knowledge that I was in God’s almighty presence.
From that moment on, I knew that anyone who claimed to “know” that God wouldn’t make a gay person did not know what he/she talked about.
I work very hard with a group of LGBT students who attend a TN Baptist affiliated college to understand that they are not their orientation does not make them the sinners that they have been told all of their lives that they are.
We are all sinners. But being born gay is no more a sin than to be born left-handed or any other physical characteristic.
On another note, just out of curiosity, I Googled Graham’s current net worth. It’s estimated that he is worth over $25,000,000; not including his vast real estate holdings. It is believed that he receives a salary of around $600,000 from his “Samaritan’s Purse” organization.
Wealth is subjective, I know. Anyone throughout the world could point to even a working-class individual in our country and say that life is hardly fair. But in Graham’s case, his worth and salary seems excessive.
I will always be leery of those who claim to know God’s intentions for others–especially when it comes to a person’s orientation. To me, if you want to know how God feels about homosexuality, ask a homosexual Christian who has dealt with the issue; someone who has come through the struggle with battle scars, but who has survived nonetheless.
Paragraph 4 should read, “I work very hard with a group of LGBT students who attend a TN Baptist affiliated college to understand that their orientation does not make them the sinners that they have been told all of their lives that they are.
Thank you so much Tom. And your experience mirrors those of scores of LGBTQ Chrisitians I interviewed during 30 years of religion reporting. Devastatingly powerful of transformation.
Tom, this is so beautifully and wonderfully said! Amen and amen!
Thank you Tom for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I have a gained a lot from your words. When I see the wealth amassed by some of these preachers I am reminded of a solitary religious in South Africa who died alone because s/he had no money for health care.
The Graham’s are a business. Some would say it is an empire, as large as it has become and reaches out to. Sounds oddly familiar like a traditional church. Not surprising that we would hear these announcements from him. Oddly, sounding like a business like the local traditional church. No one ever said that he speaks for Jesus or the evangelical spectrum, but you did. I would highly advise caution when ‘using’ any individual when writing a column, Graham or anyone else. Especially when they only represent their business, not the gospel.
I try not to condemn anyone’s faith as much as possible because I understand that Jesus alone was ever “perfect” and I myself am not “without sin” however I am deeply concerned that trumpeting the notion of the concept of an “invisible holy war” is actually detrimental to the cause of the gospel. I have often heard it said “you may be the only Jesus some people ever meet”. If the only Jesus some people meet appears consumed with the notion of changing legislation in order to control the populace that is akin to having a “Jezebel” or controlling manipulative spirit. Also the Calvinist doctrine of “predestination” I believe is based on a false understanding of certain verses that are actually about God’s “foreknowledge” of whom truly would or wouldn’t choose him, after all the Bible does say that “God is slow to anger and abounding in Mercy and not willing that any should perish but that all should come to knowledge of him through repentance. I understand that Jesus already defeated the powers of darkness at the cross. My job is to show people who Jesus is by setting an example, not by forcing my opinion down their throats after all Jesus came to save the world, not to condemn it. I think it is too easy for some Christians to forget the pit that God rescued them from. I am also talking to myself when I say this because I am not “without sin” in this area either. Just my thoughts. I am always open to other opinions.
While I may be in agreement on some of the issues here, I think I will hold off from yoking up with this author on this subject for now. It really strange in that Christianity is a religion of absolute truth. But our abilities to rightly exercise it is often more vague. (priest) Fulton J Sheen says Tolerance is applied to the individual never to the idea. What that means is we work toward tolerance when and individual is in error, but come into direct opposition to the very idea of the the error.
To understand this better consider that as Christians we are tolerant to the individual practicing homosexuality, being compassionate without compromising the gospel. Yet at the same time we are compassionately intolerant toward the idea of homosexuality.
As for the adding of the word homosexual I think we need to understand the KJV was written in 1611 and the word homosexual was not even coined until 1892 . However when we read the Bible in context we see that the concept of homosexuality has never been a subject of question for the Bible 1 Tim 1:10 reads “for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine” (NIV) if we look at the Greek for this passage we see the word “Pornos” (G4205 found 10 times in the NT) translated as “sexual immoral”. It is defined (Greek) as man who prostitutes his body to another’s lust for hire. and arsenokoitēs (G733 found 2 times in the NT ) which is translated “those practicing homosexuality” and is (Greek) meaning “One who lies with a male as if he was a female”
so then the argument about homosexual not being in the Bible is not founded.
But then there is the logical fallacy of origins that the author exemplifies , in that because Mr. Graham is rich he is not of God. or that his word concerning God is in error. ( though I do believe he is in error) that type of thinking put perfection as a standard for giving the truth of the gospel, which nun of us can live up to. And makes useless the gospel by virtue that none of us are worthy to give it.
My point is this, you hate the intolerance and judgmental statements of Mr Graham, Yet no one here extends tolerance of Grace to him. As a Christian we must be tolerant of the individual and at the same time intolerant to the transgression. This is difficult task because for every finger we point at someone we have to see the fingers we are pointing back at ourselves!
Love you all
Your brother in Christ Firespeaks
“Yet no one here extends tolerance of Grace to him.” On the contray: one, there are words of grace in some of the replies, and two, how can you know the hearts of those who write? I do think there is considerable confusion between the words homosexual and homosexuality – the one, and the act.
I do not hate Mr Graham, but I have grave concerns for his hate of other people – mostly it would appear, towards the LGBTI members of our society and prostitutes – all of whom Jesus sat at table with, loved and cared for.
I understand your concerns, and appreciate your gentle castigation. I think your assessment of the biblical understanding of what we now call homosexual behavior is incomplete, however, and may be taken out of context. For example, many scholars now accept that Sodom’s great sin to its Biblical visitors was a lack of hospitality (generally), not homosexual behavior (specifically); And there’s is definitely something wrong with offering up one’s daughters for rape.
Your assessment lines up with the other Evangelical teaching point: Hate the sin, Love the sinner. I believe that millions of Christians honestly, sincerely believe they can do that. But I think many people (perhaps most) who are the targets of that thinking don’t feel the difference .
Well said, sir, and timely. Having interviewed Graham several times as a reporter for the nefarious mainstream media, I found him a mixed character, as you describe. Samaritan’s Purse has done wonderful things in many places, but Graham’s insistence on trying to put on his father’s cloak by being the intolerant, younger Billy Graham, not the more tolerant elder statesman he became, shames not only Franklin’s ministry but his father’s as well.
Perhaps I have missed it, but I hope you have or will likewise tackle some of the others who lead so many “believers” astray — Pat Robertson, Steven Furtick of Elevation! church, Jerry Falwell Jr. … the list goes on.
God bless you for sharing your insights for those true believers who don’t share your gift of expression.
I know nothing about F.G. but I am curious about you statements about Calvinists and the doctrine you speak of. I currently attend a reformed baptist church that adheres to a Sovereign God who believes God is in control of all things, including saving souls for himself. I am aware of the dicourse between Sovereign Grace and “Free Will” but would not consider myself fully schooled on the subject. What would you recomend as an unbiased, ( as much as can be on the subject) book or dissertation on the difference between your position and his?
Robert, thanks for your comment and thoughtful question, I highly recommend the book, “What Love Is This?” by Dave Hunt.
I am an evangelical Christian, meaning I believe in sharing the gospel. I don’t hold professed Christians to the same standards as non-Christians, so I do not judge what non-Christians do. I just love them and strive to be a part of their lives, getting to know them and their stories. I understand and believe deeply that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, and that means we wrap ourselves in their skins so that we really know them. I believe we are called to care for the poor, needy, and we are to welcome the foreigner and the dispossessed. We are to be a voice for those who have no voice, and we are to seek justice for the marginalized.
This election has upended many of my friendships with other evangelicals because I was stunned to see how much they worshipped the new administration, stating bluntly that there could be criticism of him because God chose him to the president. I was told that by resisting, I was sinning. I pointed them to verses about civil disobedience. I was told that by not supporting this president, I was an abortion lover and did not know Jesus. I pointed them to verses about love and grace. I was a leader in many different evangelical ministries, and people in my groups flourished and grew in their faith. Their joy was evident, as was their love for the less fortunate. So to hear my “friends” call me names and condemn me because I could not and would not support this president’s agenda was, at first, heartbreaking. But now I have had the freedom to be with all kinds of people, and they see me as a Christian unlike the ones they have known. They have met the ones like Franklin Graham, condemning and harsh people who tell them they must walk in lockstep with this administration. I find I can share my faith freely with them, and they are curious about it. I tell them evangelical Christianity has been hijacked by the conservatives, and that their brand of Christianity is not at all loving or kind, and it certainly does not look after the marginalized or the poor. It is just another version of the prosperity gospel, and it is not what I practice at all. Franklin Graham has become hateful to everyone not like him, and he does not represent me at all. You shall know them by their fruits, and his fruits have become poisonous, stirring up hate and bigotry in this followers. My Muslim friends are afraid to walk outside in public. My gay and trans friends are afraid to go to a public restroom. My immigrant friends are afraid of traveling outside the U.S. and not being allowed back in. (I don’t know any undocumented immigrants, but I imagine they are afraid to show up for their check-ins these days). Fear is NOT from God, but the conservatives who hijacked evangelical Christianity in this election are all about fear. Fear of their neighbors, immigrants, gays, trans, women, losing their guns, etc. So much fear. Unfounded fear, too. Where is their trust that God is still in control? Why are they so fearful of anyone not like them? Why do they need an arsenal at home? Why do they need to be in public armed to the teeth? Why are they only congregating with others like them? I don’t have any answers, but I know that God has called me to resist the evil being served on us by this administration, and I have found my voice to speak out against every act of evil, every word of evil. I am glad there are others who see the demonic nature of the conservative version of evangelical Christianity.
Junogirl, so beautifully said! Thank you for reading and commenting!
Rather I hear this person (“Rev” at all?) spue vitriol after vitriol.
“Dear world, Franklin Graham is not our leader, not our pastor, not our spokesperson, nor our example—and with all due respect, in my personal opinion, he’s nothing like Jesus.”
Exactly, Chris! For a child of a conservative evangelist to be even more conservative is rare. For the son of a conservative evangelist to puke out venom of such phenomenal potency is appalling.
You speak my heart when you say you’ve had enough and heard enough. I can’t even pretend to listen to people who parrot his words, they are not Jesus’s words or his heart. I’ve been reading the work of a group of scholars who have gone back to the original translator notes for the RSV; talk about racism, patriarchy, homophobia and misogyny! I also read a book by a rabbi about how perverted from the original the “Christian” bible was even from the time of the Renaissance. Some days I just cry what they’ve done to the scriptures.
One small ask, please don’t call aliens “illegal”–no person created in God’s image is illegal. They might not have all the right papers but they certainly aren’t illegal.
Thanks for your comment Stephanie. Obviously, I am not calling them illegal aliens, but rather referencing the terminology widely held by people who would support someone like Franklin Graham.
Condemnation of homosexuality is in the New testament. Don’t try to justify your sin if you claim to be a Christian. All have sinned, but homosexuality is an habitual, unrepenten sin.