Good Advice from Graham

Over the course of the last few weeks I’ve heard or read story after story concerning human sexuality; specifically the matter of homosexuality in the church. The question at hand is essentially a matter of inclusion: “Can gay Christians be included in the life of the church?” And some are even more harsh when they ask, “Can there even be such a thing as a gay Christian?”

Regardless of where you stand I think we all must agree that there are multiple answers to those questions from those inside the church. Outspoken church leaders and theologians do not agree, denominations do not agree, local churches do not agree, and individual Christians have individual opinions about these questions.

Another thing all sincere players in this theological argument must also admit is that this has become for some THE defining marker for Christian orthodoxy. In other words, how you believe on this issue is the core issue for Christians and churches. Churches are splitting over this issue, other congregations are defecting from their denominational homes, and some Christians are even breaking fellowship with lifelong friends because they disagree on the issue of gay Christianity.

Yesterday I learned that Franklin Graham, son of famed evangelist Billy Graham, has decided to withdraw the organization’s funds from Wells Fargo Bank because of a television advertisement that depicts a lesbian couple adopting a deaf child. For him it is a moral stand he must take. (Ironically he has moved the funds to another bank that is at least as gay friendly as the one he left.)

My question and concern here is quite specific:”Why is the acknowledgement and inclusion of gay people in the church the battle line for the truth of our faith?” Through the course of my life I’ve seen that battle line change. How one felt about civil rights, pacifism, end times, abortion, Charismatics, women ministers, and Muslims have all had their turn being THE issue that determines “real” Christians from the “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” I’d like to suggest to all those who make such matters the ultimate test of true Christianity that they actually read what Christ said and emphasized in his ministry. Let me recommend four amazing books: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Oh, and one more thing; some good advice by Graham; not Franklin, but his dad, Billy. Years ago he met with some Christians with whom he had a disagreement. The issue of war and Christian pacifism was thick in the air. Here is an account of how the great evangelist handled the matter:

After a detailed presentation of Anabaptist beliefs—particularly nonviolence—the Mennonites asked for Graham’s advice. How did evangelical leaders view Mennonites’ pacifism? How might they improve their evangelistic outreach? Graham was gracious. … Graham told the group that he “could easily be one of us in about 99% of what has been said,” the secretary recorded. He expressed willingness to discuss the doctrine of nonviolence in the future, but warned of the “historical danger of a denomination putting undue emphasis and overweighting ourselves on one particular point.”*

Pretty good advice. I wish we all might learn from it.

*Molly Worthen – http://www.christiancentury.org/blogs/archive/2013-11/billy-graham-and-fracture-american-evangelicalism

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