Franklin Graham has used both Twitter and Facebook to let his Fundagelical followers know that he considers Pete Buttigieg a non-Christian. For Graham and the Fundagelicals, Buttigieg can’t be a Christian because he is gay. In his Facebook post, Graham questions Buttigieg’s Christianity by saying, “Being a Christian isn’t a title we select or a church membership. It is a faith in God and His Word that transforms our lives to be more like the One we follow – Jesus Christ! Jesus said, ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments.'(John 14:15). The Bible makes it very clear that homosexuality is a sin. ‘If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination . . . ‘ (Leviticus 20:13). That’s what God says and that settles it for me. I stand with the Word of God. I care enough about people to tell them the truth and warn them about the judgement to come for all sin.”
Graham tells his followers that Buttigieg can’t be a Christian because he is a “name only” Christian. The evidence he offers is the implication that by being gay, Buttigieg isn’t being transformed into a more Christ-like person; he isn’t obeying Jesus’ commands, and is breaking part of the Old Testament holiness code. Graham concludes with The Bible says it; I believe it; that settles it.
I can agree with Graham, a phrase I never thought I’d say, that being a Christian isn’t a title we select. It is indeed about faith in God and transforming to become more like Jesus. However, becoming more like Jesus isn’t about Jesus’ sexuality. It’s about his character. We would seek to love God and love our neighbors. Does Franklin Graham have evidence that Pete Buttigieg doesn’t love God or his neighbor? Graham attempts to show Buttigieg doesn’t love God by implying that he is breaking one of Jesus’ commandments. He then quotes from the book of Leviticus. The Leviticus passage which graham labels as very clear, by all reasonable scholarship standards is in dispute. To state that this ancient piece of the holiness code clearly states homosexuality is a sin is to promote a lie. The passage is only a “very clear” condemnation to those who chose it to be a clear condemnation. Graham, by twisting a scripture passage can then use the authority of the Bible to suggest that anyone who would argue with him isn’t being Biblical.
What annoys me most about Graham’s attack on Buttigieg Christianity is that Graham sets himself up as a self-appointed gatekeeper. Graham has the arrogance to believe he knows who is in the Kingdom of God and who is out. For Graham and other Fundagelicals, they have a specific list of beliefs that must be affirmed (Biblical inerrancy for example) and a list of specific sins that disqualify a person from being a Christian. Progressive Christians, like Buttigieg, scare the hell out of Fundagelicals. In essence, they communicate that no one needs their permission or their acceptance to be a Christian. The Gay Christian community has served notice that Fundagelical gatekeepers are out of a job. They have been relegated to “old crazy, bigoted Auntie Grizelda” status. Yes, you are still part of the family, but no one is listening to the hateful nonsense you spew out at family gatherings. Sorry, Franklin, you don’t get to decide whose name is written in the Lamb’s book of life. You didn’t write it: you haven’t read it, and Jesus has a nasty habit of writing everyone’s name in it.
The second thing that annoys me is Grahams attempt to shirk responsibility for his un-Christlike behavior. He claims, “I care enough about people to tell them the truth and warn them about the judgment to come for all sin” Graham in attacking another person’s Christianity is just being caring. Too bad Graham isn’t following Jesus’ command. I mean if Graham loved Jesus, he would keep Jesus’ commandments. “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Jesus didn’t call us to tell other people what was wrong with them; Jesus told us to purify ourselves. Warning people about sin and judgment is an Evangelical distortion of the Gospel message. It became a popular American Evangelical obsession during the Great Awakening and has continued to be the distorted Gospel message preached by Fundagelicals until today.
I don’t understand why Franklin Graham is making an issue about Pete Buttigieg’s supposed sinful lifestyle anyway. Graham’s fellow Fundagelical Jerry Falwell Jr., in defending the multiple married serial adulterer Donald Trump, made it clear that the moral life of Presidential candidates isn’t important. As he said, “We are electing a Commander-in-chief, not a Pastor-in-chief.
Thanks for reading, take a moment to like and share the post. You can watch my vlog at Rev’s Reels on YouTube. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Join me and a bunch of other former Fundagelicals at Open Door Ministries in Westminster at the Westminster Mall.