Franklin Graham, evangelical Christian leader and son of the most widely known evangelist of the 20th century — the late Billy Graham — took issue Wednesday with South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a Democratic presidential candidate who has publicly attacked Vice President Mike Pence, a former Indiana governor, on the issue of homosexuality and its relationship to Christianity.
Graham said in a tweet, “Mayor Buttigieg says he’s a gay Christian. As a Christian I believe the Bible defines homosexuality as sin, something to be repentant of, not something to be flaunted, praised or politicized. The Bible says marriage is between a man and a woman — not two men, not two women.”
During the CNN-sponsored “Town Hall” event in Manchester, New Hampshire, Buttigieg defended his homosexuality: “I get that one of the things about Scripture is different people see different things in it. At the very least we should be able to establish that God does not have a political party.”
But Buttigieg was the one who first interjected his status as a gay man into the contest, and opted to attack Vice President Pence’s Christian faith in relationship to that status. He recently questioned Pence’s Christianity for serving with President Donald Trump, and said that Pence (who had said nothing publicly about Buttigieg’s homosexuality) and those who think like him should understand that if they have a problem with Buttigieg’s sexual orientation, then they should take it up with God.
What Buttigieg was saying was not really a political statement, per se, because Pence has proposed no laws inhibiting the mayor’s homosexual lifestyle, but rather a religious statement. When Buttigieg said at the CNN event, “It can be challenging to be a person of faith who’s also part of the LGBTQ community and yet, to me, the core of faith is regard for one another,” adding, “And part of how God’s love is experienced, according to my faith tradition, is in the way that we support one another and, in particular, support the least among us,” he was stating religious beliefs.
Buttigieg has every right to express whatever religious belief he wants, but by the same reasoning, so does Mike Pence, and so does Franklin Graham. And when a public figure such as Buttigieg chooses to use his position as a public figure to advance a religious viewpoint, others have not only a right, but a duty, to defend their own religious viewpoint.
But what has happened in American society in recent years is that Christians who accept the authority of Scripture are expected to just shut up and not assert their view that homosexuality, adultery, and other sexual sins are sins.
The truth is that public figures have been using their public platforms to attack evangelical and Roman Catholic Christianity more and more, in increasingly strident tones. When Amy Comey Barrett, a Catholic, was up for confirmation to a federal circuit court judge position, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) actually told Barrett that she did not like her Catholic “dogma.” Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told Russell Vought, a nominee for a post in the Office of Management and Budget, that he was going to vote against him simply because Voight holds to the position that salvation is only through faith in Jesus Christ.
And, incredibly enough, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, the 2016 candidate of the Libertarian Party — a party supposedly dedicated to the concept of “liberty” — dismissed the concept of religious liberty as a “black hole.”
Buttigieg, during his unprovoked assault upon Pence’s Christian faith, said, “My understanding of Scripture, it’s about protecting the stranger and the prisoner and the poor person and that idea of welcome. That’s what I get in the gospel when I’m in church.”
For years, liberals have cited Scripture (wrongly, many say) to argue that Jesus was some sort of progressive who advocated the redistribution of wealth, but when someone else would quote the Bible to defend a conservative position, they would shout that such quotations are “mixing politics and religion.”
We can expect that Graham will be told that he should not have called homosexual behavior a sin — after all, only liberals are allowed to use religion in a political context. But Graham is not even making a political point. On the contrary, Graham is defending his Christian faith from what he believes is a public and deliberate distortion by a politician.
Of course, politicians have never really cared for preachers calling them out for sexual sins. King Herod wasn’t too happy about it when John the Baptist publicly condemned him for taking his own brother’s wife away from him. John the Baptist called it what it was — adultery — and a sin. At the angry wife’s urging, Herod had John beheaded.
Franklin Graham doesn’t face decapitation — we haven’t degenerated that far, yet — but he will no doubt face the wrath of the elites who control academia, Hollywood, and the secular media. He should also receive the support of fellow Christians for bravely defending the faith from distortion.
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