Opinion: Evangelist Franklin Graham distorts the Bible’s message on homosexuality

Opinion: Evangelist Franklin Graham distorts the Bible’s message on homosexuality

U.S. electoral politics have traditionally been somewhat bland, with candidates from both major parties representing a safe and always unrepresentative proportion of the country’s actually diverse population.

That’s changing just a little, and especially so with 2020 presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, who proudly describes himself as a “gay Christian.” He is far from perfect on many policies, but this multilingual graduate of Harvard and Oxford, who served in Afghanistan as a naval intelligence officer, and as mayor of South Bend, Ind., is deeply impressive and refreshing.

But not to Franklin Graham, son of the famous and far less extreme Billy. Franklin is president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the charity Samaritan’s Purse. For the latter position he is paid $1 million a year. He enjoys enormous support in the conservative Christian world, with more than 5 million Facebook followers, and has many supporters in Canada.

He has tweeted in response to Buttigieg’s declaration of his Christianity that, “God does have commandments, laws and standards He gives us to live by. God doesn’t change. His Word is the same yesterday, today & forever … As a Christian I believe the Bible which defines homosexuality as sin, something to be repentant of, not something to be flaunted, praised or politicized.”

He continued, “The Bible says marriage is between a man and a woman — not two men, not two women,” and “the core of the Christian faith is believing and following Jesus Christ, who God sent to be the Savior of the world — to save us from sin, to save us from hell, to save us from eternal damnation.”

None of this comes as very much of a surprise of course, in that Graham has argued that Muslims should be banned from the United States because Islam is “very evil and wicked,” and that LGBTQ people be barred from churches because Satan “wants to devour our homes.” He also roared that the election of Donald Trump was due to the “hand of God,” has lauded Vladimir Putin for “protecting Russian young people against homosexual propaganda,” and condemned Planned Parenthood as being “Hitleristic.”

It’s the man’s homophobia, however, that really has to be exposed and demolished. Remember, homosexuality is still illegal in 70 nations and seven of them punish same-sex relationships with a death sentence. In many parts of the world the situation is getting worse rather than better.

So, Graham’s words matter. And even putting aside his obsession and malice, he is simply wrong. Theologically, historically, ethically, and most of all with his hideous absence of love and empathy, crucial to anybody who claims to follow the authentic Jesus.

I’ve spent the past five years of my life studying the issue of homosexuality and the Bible, returning to original texts and languages, and reading and interviewing many of the world’s finest scholars in this area. It’s deeply complex but what we can say with confidence is that scripture must never be used selectively and without context, to prove a political point. It has to be understood with an open and clear mind free of bias and anachronism. It must be interpreted with a deep grasp of history, intent, and meaning.

Homosexuality is hardly mentioned in this enormous library of texts that we know as the Bible. Jesus never refers to the subject, the Old Testament doesn’t mention lesbianism, and when St. Paul speaks of the matter he is — if you read him in full and with learning — describing pagan cults where same-sex intimacy was forced on people as a means of initiation and worship. He never condemns a loving, committed partnership between two people of the same gender. He has little to say about the contemporary conversation.

I try to live by biblical teachings but also know that scripture is a breathing document to be met with dialogue and questioning. It was never supposed to be anything other than that. Literalism and fundamentalism obscure the truth, promoting perversion of what was intended, and empowering people such as Franklin Graham to cause untold agony. The quintessence of the Gospels is love and forgiveness. I will try to love and forgive you, sir — that’s not easy but, as a Christian, I have no choice.

[Originally published on thestar.com]

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7 Comments

  1. Mandy
    May 05, 07:36 Reply

    There’s just one thing that steady baffles me about Christians who use the Bible and what God said to beat at gay people. Just one thing. Jesus Christ was a representation of love and acceptance. The man for whom Christianity was birthed represented welcoming all who are heavily laden.

    And yet, somehow, Christians are the exact opposite of Him.

    How do these people not see the irony in their worship?

  2. Dimkpa
    May 05, 08:00 Reply

    As much as I would like to take the side of the writer in this issue, I can’t because he really didn’t mention anything to show how the evangelist distorts the bible’s teaching on homosexuality.

    “I’ve spent the past five years of my life studying the issue of homosexuality and the Bible, returning to original texts and languages, and reading and interviewing many of the world’s finest scholars in this area.”
    After all this we are not told what he learned. Does the bible actually support homosexuality? Is that what the distortion is?

    Trying to suggest that Paul only mentions homosexuality in respect to Pagan cults is not accurate.

    1Cor 6:9: Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

    There is no mention of Pagan cults in this passage and it lists other sins apart from homosexuality.

    The truth is the bible considers homosexuality a sin and anyone trying to say otherwise is mistaken.

    That said, I believe that people hide behind it as a cover for their own bigotry. They use the Bible as an excuse even though they’re just hating because haters gonna hate. Jesus dined and associated with, tax collectors, prostitutes and the undesirables in his time. If he were here today, I bet homosexuals would be in his list for a dinner party. He was all about love and calling out the hypocrisy of sinners who judge others enough to want to cast a stone on them.
    Personally, I would not worry about what Paul said because he had some non progressive views on women amongst other things. He was not woke by any stretch of the imagination and merely reflected the views of his time.

    Any gay man trying to cling on to his faith may find solace in this. I would however suggest ditching the whole thing altogether. It’s all a load of rubbish. God created light before he created the sun. Where did the light come from? If you want to base your life on a book with such ridiculous inconsistencies, please do but I find I am much happier and at peace without it.

    • Oludayo
      May 06, 18:44 Reply

      Hmmmn.

      Like the writer said, the Bible read out of context and literally is dangerous.

      The actual words used in that verse points to pedastry but was translated as homosexuality. Keep in mind that the Corinthians are no strangers to such practices in their temple.

      He/she spent 5 years of their life trying to study those texts, consciously avoiding a literal reading of those verses which is what you just did.

      Maybe this is also a good time to say to Queer people whose faith is still important to them;

      You’re seen. You’re heard. You’re Loved

    • Jay Armstrong
      June 11, 03:31 Reply

      Hi Dimkpa,

      Please note, the word “Homosexual” etymologically was coined in the early 20th century. Whereas the Bible as we have it now was written, compiled and concluded around the first century. So how could Paul have used the term “Homosexual”. Best bet, he was speaking to what the writer wrote about; idolatry and temple prostitution.

      As he said, rightfully, things should be left in context when reading the Bible.

      And as for light existing before the sun, I give you man’s inventions; fire, light bulbs… You’re welcome. Seriously though, there are many things we don’t understand, those of us in the faith… But that’s why it’s faith… But to say the Bible is inconsistent because of that is just lazy… God has been described as light plenty times in scriptures. Moses’ face radiated after seeing the rare of His Glory… So what’re we talking about?

      And no, the Bible doesn’t overtly declare support for homosexuality… But there are some subtle attestations in the scriptures that suggest that we’re different. Jesus, maker of all things, said some were born eunuchs. That’s enough for me.

      But whatever man, receive peace.

  3. Higwe
    May 05, 11:40 Reply

    I don’t know why people keep forgetting that the Bible was actually written by men like us.

    Why we hold the sentiments of mortals like us in such a high standard , just because it was touted to be influenced by the “spirit”😂….is what still baffles me .

    This is the same Bible that hid the fact that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and had a daughter with her called – Sarah .

    Mary Magdalene was indirectly brandished a prostitute and Sarah was scrapped out entirely from the Bible ….so they could keep peddling their narrative that Jesus was an immortal Messiah .

    They knew admitting he had a wife will humanize him …. and they couldn’t have that now could they ?
    What happens to the gang of sheepish flock ?

    Abraham married his sister and was still branded a righteous man .

    Elisha commanded a lion to devour three boys that were allegedly mocking his bald headedness….but he was a prophet of change.

    David murdered a man and slept with his wife and was called the man after god’s own heart .

    Lot offered his two daughters to be gang raped by hoodlums , and this act martyred him……his poor wife (in a purely human instinct ) looked back to see the destruction they allegedly averted and was turned to a pillar of salt. 😂

    They’ll tell you that the word of Lord remains the same – nuduistertian , yesterday , today , tomorrow, till eternity .

    What happened to slave keepers …which was commonly accepted and supported by the law their Lord made then ?

    Why do Christians preach against war nowadays -when their Lord used to cajol them back then to go to war.

    When did incest become a sin ?

    _____________________________

    They’ll tell you that Jesus came in the new testament and amended the law .
    But this Jesus is still been paraded as the god whose words never change.🤦🏽‍♂️

    How in the world can you amend something without changing it.
    So if I had a trouser and cut it down to a short , haven’t I altered the whole outfit ,thereby changing its appearance ?

    The Bible’s idea of a pious woman is one who stooped and did everything requested by a man /husband .
    Any one that acted differently and actually had an iota of authority will be jezebelized.

    The Bible is a book by MAN written for MAN .
    Women were underwritten , undervalued and underutilized in every verse .

    In one passage women were sternly forbidden to serve as priests in the church …a church where an allegedly loving , kind , forgiving and largesse god was being served …who clearly had an issue with half of the human genders he created, serving him .🤦🏽‍♂️

    They’ll tell you that Eve’s crime is the reason labour pain is excruciating …I wonder if the cows , goats , zebras etc also ate the apple … since they experience labour pain too ?

    The earlier we realise that the Bible was written by sexist , chauvinistic and misogynistic men …….and everything they wrote, will tow the line…..the idea that the men they placed in such a high esteem would even consider to copulate with another man , must have driven them nuts .

    Why do you think lesbianism was never mentioned … because the “worthless” woman never mattered .🤷🏾‍♂️

    Please note that the issue of religion is very sensitive…that’s why I used all my Gs in small letters.
    I have nothing but profound respect for God ; I just have an issue with the book they claim is His word.
    Zealots please stay off .😎

    • Comic
      May 07, 15:43 Reply

      This is the same Bible that hid the fact that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and had a daughter with her called – Sarah .
      Higwe please where did you get this from? I am so confuse now with all this religion bruhaha…

  4. Aladdin
    May 05, 14:44 Reply

    Higwe first of all homosexual is the opposite of heterosexual which mean it comprises of gays and lesbians
    But I don’t understand why homosexuality should be a sin since this feelings comes naturally, those it mean we were all born to perish?

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