Dear Franklin Graham, I was dismayed by your interview. You are so unlike your father. He spoke with love and tenderness. You speak with contempt and no love.
Gandhi said, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.”
I like your father. Over his long and illustrious life, he has exemplified the Christian ethic: love God, love others. He showed his love to the world in countless ways. When asked how he would respond if he had a gay child, he answered, “I would love that one all the more.” He is so like Christ.
I am not so keen on you. You are so unlike your father.
Your Rebel With a Cause showed a rebellious you, seeking to find his way. I did not live in your house, but your story painted a picture of someone whose family, and Savior, gave him freedom to sort it all out. Let him discover what he needed to discover. Jesus asks this question: “Who loves more, the one who’s been forgiven little or the one forgiven much?” Answer: the one forgiven much. But you, forgiven much, demonstrate little room to forgive others, by which I mean little tolerance to let others discover their own path as you discovered yours, or to be on a path you don’t understand.
Jesus tells a story of a father who let his son go do his thing, though it broke his heart, and when the son returned, the dad threw him a party. Not a word of apology was spoken. No, seriously. Just an extravagant celebration. The self-righteous older brother resented the father’s welcome of the estranged son. You don’t resemble the generous father in the story; you resemble the resentful brother… (despite the fact that were also at one point the rebellious brother).
Jesus told a story of a man left for dead, rescued by someone of the hated race, a Samaritan. Samaritans were hated worse than homosexuals today, if that’s possible. You resonated somehow with the story, as it is the name of your organization, Samaritan’s Purse. But you are not generous like the Samaritan. You are more like the religious men who walked by on the other side of the road, lest this man’s blood and whatnot “dirty” them.
The interviewer pointed out that your father was focused more on the love of God and you’re focused more on the judgment of God. “Well, you know, as I get older I might get sweeter!” you chuckled. “As you’re older, you have a tendency to reflect more.” I hope so, but you’re 61 now, and you’re not very sweet. Your father has always been much sweeter than you. Your father saw the danger of legalism as a young man. As a student, he rejected the terribly strict Bob Jones University after one semester. You might want to reread his biography.
As you continue to regurgitate what you must have internalized as a youth from the likes of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, from the Moral Majority, you condone brutal assault on an entire a group of people.
You believe these people are in sin, gross misconduct, and need to repent. You’re certainly entitled to that. But what ground do you stand on to endorse an all-out assault on these people God created? Where is that in the Bible? To justify violence to scourge the earth of these people you find reprehensible is way beyond the pale, way beyond any possible justification from your Savior. How is their blood not on your hands?
As this article cites:
Marianne Duddy-Burke, who heads the gay Catholic group DignityUSA and is a member of the National Religious Leadership Roundtable of gay-friendly religious groups, said she’s met with gay and lesbian Russians who have been beaten, stabbed and burned as Russia cracks down. “It’s really disturbing when a religious leader seems to endorse laws that lead to this kind of behavior,” she said.
You said we should be afraid of Sharia Law “because there is no tolerance in Sharia Law, and it persecutes those who do not believe in Islam.” Are you aware that people are afraid of the Christianity you represent because there is no tolerance, and it persecutes those who do not believe in Christianity? The interviewer pointed out that opposing same-sex marriage is a religious law too — that “we should not let gays and lesbians should not get married because they Bible says they shouldn’t” is a religious law. Your response? “I believe the bible from cover to cover.” Franklin, it’s still a religious law. I wondered if you missed the striking parallel, or if it doesn’t matter because you believe in the Bible and not Islam.
You accuse gays of promoting a “homosexual agenda.” I’m wondering what agenda you think they’re promoting, exactly? The desire I hear is the freedom to love and be loved, the freedom to marry someone they love, to live free of assault by those who want them gone. Sounds like the least we could grant fellow human beings, but you’re not happy with that. Jesus told us to give Caesar what Caesar’s and give God what’s God’s. This is exactly what he meant. He never told us to try to get rid of people we don’t like (which Putin, whom you support, is doing). On the contrary, he said in essence, give people what they want. (Go the extra mile with your oppressor, turn the other cheek, love your neighbor as yourself.) In essence, don’t worry about writing laws to enforce God’s rules. Love God and love others, and the laws will fall into place.
One more Bible story is relevant here. It’s in 1 Kings 12, when Rehoboam became king, and the people petitioned him to lighten his father’s heavy burden. Despite counsel from wise elders who had faithfully served his father before him, Rehoboam increased the load to make their lives unbearable. Pretty much what Putin has done.
Franklin, if I had one moment with you, I would encourage you to ask your father’s opinion on this while you have the chance. I suspect, based on the love he’s shown consistently over the decades, he would echo the voices of the wise elders and encourage you to love and serve, instead of weighing them down.
He would echo Jesus’ words to love your enemy. Of course, if you love your enemy, there’s a good chance they become your friend. And I’m guessing from having heard your interview, that you would be unwilling for gays to be your friend. If true, that says nothing about them and volumes about you.