Benjamin L. Corey

Benjamin L. Corey

BLC is an author, speaker, scholar, and global traveler, who holds graduate degrees in Theology & Intercultural Studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and received his doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller. He is the author of Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus, and Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith.

Jesus Will Magically Make You Un-Gay? (What Franklin Graham Is Wrong About Today)

Is being gay a sin that you can simply repent from by becoming a Christian?

Does asking Jesus into your heart make the gay go away?

That seems to be the sentiment being expressed by Republican Policy Lobbyist, Franklin Graham, who is on an anti-gay binge on his Facebook right now.

(For those unfamiliar, Franklin is the very dissimilar successor to his father, Billy Graham, who has been a life-long democrat deeply skeptical of the marriage between religion and right-wing politics.)

Graham responded to the move to ban the harmfully ineffective practice of “conversion” therapy with the following:

“Now Democrats are proposing a bill to ban conversion therapy in the United States… Homosexuality is defined by God as sin, an abomination to Him. There’s one “conversion therapy” that works for all sin, and that is asking Jesus Christ to come into our hearts. He can transform and heal our lives, making us new. The Bible tells us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17)”

Graham’s response, of course, brings us to another edition of What Franklin Graham Is Wrong About Today.

First, there’s the issue of gay conversion therapy. This type of therapy treats any sexual orientation other than heterosexual as a mental disorder, and aims to reverse it. Conversion therapy has been overwhelmingly denounced by the medical community for a variety of reasons, chief of which is the fact that it doesn’t work. And more than the fact that it doesn’t work is the fact that it actually makes everything worse– violating the medical community’s oath to “do no harm.”

The American Psychological Association (APA) has studied and observed the actual result of attempting conversion therapy, which can result in the following:

“Depression, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, shame, social withdrawal, suicidality, substance abuse, stress, disappointment, self-blame, decreased self-esteem and authenticity to others, increased self-hatred, hostility and blame toward parents, feelings of anger and betrayal, loss of friends and potential romantic partners, problems in sexual and emotional intimacy, sexual dysfunction, high-risk sexual behaviors, a feeling of being dehumanized and untrue to self, a loss of faith, and a sense of having wasted time and resources.”

The APA has gone on to note, “In the last four decades, ‘reparative’ therapists have not produced any rigorous scientific research to substantiate their claims of cure.”

So, gay conversion therapy? It doesn’t make you un-gay, and can make you want to kill yourself in the process of not becoming un-gay.

That brings us to Graham’s second solution: Asking Jesus into your heart.

When I see Franklin presenting the idea of saying a short prayer as a magical “conversion” from homosexuality, I am reminded of a few things:

First, I’m reminded that Franklin Graham should not be considered a theological authority on anything. He doesn’t have a background in theology or the Bible, and he didn’t go to seminary to even begin the entry-level training required of clergy and Bible teachers. He has a bachelors degree in business. If Franklin were in any other line of work he’d be found guilty of practicing without a license– his qualification is being born the son of a famous preacher, and that’s it.

Second, I am reminded that Franklin Graham should not be considered a pastoral authority on anything, because (according to his own biography) he doesn’t have any experience being a pastor. Franklin was internally groomed to take over for his father preaching at crusades, but this is not the same thing as having the crucial experience of walking alongside members of a local congregation as seeing the intersection where the theoretical becomes the real.

People like Franklin Graham who don’t know what it’s like to be a pastor tend to forget we’re talking about real people here.

Back to the asking Jesus into your heart thing in order to pray out the gay. If Franklin Graham had any legitimate experience as a pastor, if he had even one actual real-life relationship with a Christian who is part of the LGBTQ community, he’d know this:

They’ve tried that.

As someone who has served in pastoral roles to both youth and adults within an evangelical setting, my experience was that I did not meet a single LGBTQ Christian who had not already prayed, begged, and pleaded with God to change their sexuality. Attempts to “pray out the gay” had long been exhausted before people ever came to talk to me.

The sacred stories I’ve been invited into are not stories of people rebelling against God, or people who wake up one morning and decide they want to be an “abomination” as Graham calls it. The stories I’ve been invited into are far more tender and painful. They are stories marked with rejection of family, shame about who they knew themselves to be, stigmatization of all sorts, and the knowledge that they tried to pray it away– but their orientation remained the same no matter how hard they prayed.

If only it were as simple as Franklin Graham in his biblical and pastoral ignorance thinks it is, I know some real-life, painful stories that would have longed for his simple “conversion” therapy to be true.

So what’s Franklin Graham wrong about today?

He’s wrong about conversion therapy– LGBTQ conversion therapy is a medical failure with deadly side effects, and he’s wrong that simply “asking Jesus into your heart” somehow magically changes your sexual orientation.

It doesn’t, and to suggest it does is something that has horrific consequences.

As Christians in America, we must continue to refute the horrible, toxic, misinformed, and ignorant ideas of Franklin Graham– because his ideas are literally deadly.

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Benjamin L. Corey

Benjamin L. Corey

BLC is an author, speaker, scholar, and global traveler, who holds graduate degrees in Theology & Intercultural Studies from Gordon-Conwell, and earned his doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller.

He is the author of Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith, and Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus.

It's not the end of the world, but it's pretty #@&% close. Trump's America & Franklin Graham's Christianity must be resisted.

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It's not the end of the world, but it's pretty #@&% close. Trump's America & Franklin Graham's Christianity must be resisted.

Join the resistance: Subscribe for posts and updates from BLC!

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  • Are you sure Billy Graham was a life long democrat? I was under the impression he was republican and pretty conservative. Other than that, an excellent article!

    • According to Christ, LGBTQ people are perfect if they are, therefore, as their heavenly Father is perfect.

      “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

      Matthew 5:43-48 (NIV2011)

      It would probably be a lock on perfection if LGBTQ people follow the law according to Matthew 7:12 and 22:37-40.

      Actually being a LGBTQ child of God doesn’t seem to be considered by the Messiah as having anything to do with perfection in our heavenly Father’s eyes.

      • God /Jesus only speaks of one kind of marriage that is acceptable to Him for sexual relations.
        And that’s one woman only married to one man only.
        All other sexual relations are a sin.

        • That is, also, ignorant. There is no marriage in heaven. Jesus spoke to no form of “sexual” relations for that is carnal. God has no need of propagating Their created animal species. In the mean time how much more do you wish to populate this earth? How much time do you spend on sexual matters? Sexual attraction within all species of animals on earth is first an instinct to propagate the species. In species that are beginning over populate, to instinctively regulate their propagation, very often, the mechanism is seen as same sex relationships necessary to relieve the pent up physical sexual organs. Why would an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient eternal God of spirit give a damn about sexual relationships between carnal being they love if they’re not too overpopulated nor underpopulated relative to their available resources?

          My God only cares about the attitude with which we relate to one another, not who we relate with. Evil is anything destructive and good is any thing that is constructive and productive. Too much potent heterosexual relationship within any carnal species is destructive when the population overwhelms the available resources. Good stewards of our earth can love without over propagating.

          The image of God made in Man is spirit, not carnal.

          • You were right when you made that statement
            ” my God ” you’ve made up your own variation of God/Jesus.
            One that doesn’t exist in all true Christians minds and hearts.

            • Thank you for that D.M.S..

              What is your authority and criteria for judging the minds and hearts “in all true Christians“?

              Mine begins with:

              “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

              Luke 14:26-27 (NIV2011)

              … then I move to what you refused to even discuss:

              “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

              John 14:15-21 (NIV2011)

              … and, oh, how I feel secure with:

              “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

              John 16:12-15 (NIV2011)

              … and this most divine package of biblical direction is completed with this admonition from my one Instructor:

              “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

              Matthew 23:8-12 (NIV2011)

              From the biblical fruit you share it is you who has made up your own variation of God/Jesus. It is from your pulpits that your vile portrayal of “God/Jesus” is cast as remote and unavailable for one in One nurture, learning and growing.

              The value of the Bible is only when it leads each and every one of carnal Man to come directly to the counsel of God for the truth. The Pharisees, the Sadducee, the high priest Caiaphas and council, and the Jewish crowd yelling, “crucify the king of the Jews” all did not recognize the presence of God in their midst so they murdered Him. If the Bible does not convince you to seek that Spirit within you forever then it has failed you.

              I do not sit in judgment of any but I know moment by moment He who does. I am a very little child of God not capable of teaching anyone of my family relationship in God, but my Teacher, available to all who see to accept Him, is most capable.

              So, I ask again, what is your authority and criteria for judging the minds and hearts “in all true Christians“?

              • Satans minions such as most of those at formerly Fundie know scripture much better than most clergy.
                You can spout all the scripture that you know, but I don’t believe for a second that you are a Christian. I doubt that you ever have been a Christian considering the vile hatred that you show towards God/Jesus everyday.
                I’ll keep praying for your salvation, I hope someday that you recieve that salvation.

          • You’re so blind to the the truth of God/Jesus I’m actually in awe of such defiant chosen ignorance on your part.
            Marriage on earth is what I was speaking.
            And you very well know it.
            I’m going to keep praying for your salvation.
            It’s the only thing I’ve got left that I can do for all the lost on Formally Fundie.

            • D.M.S., marriage is a contract between to parties, no more and no less. I am not ignorant, for God is in me and I in Them, you were speaking to an intimate civil contract between two people of the same sexual appendages who you judge abominable.

              The word marriage is not sacred to any but those of Man. God could give a damn as long as the contract was honored. There is nothing carnal God sets apart to be of greater value to the spirit.

              For those of us who see Christ, who is not conjecture to us, we are not happy that you leave in your state of spiritual ignorance and blindness. We ask that you go in peace but that you, also, in private supplicate yourself directly before God in your quest for truth, please. Work it out between the two of you.

              • God/Jesus is nowhere in you.
                I truly feel sorry for you.
                All I can offer you are my prayers for your salvation.
                Good bye.

                • Empty sentiment from one who cannot tell me if this is true today:

                  “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

                  John 14:15-21 (NIV2011)

                  I see Jesus right this moment as I key this in.

                  I am not waiting for Jesus’ return because I a subject of His kingdom and full authority right now.

                  I am a well nurtured little child of God, born and immersed in the Spirit. I am not left orphaned.

                  In fact this is divinely true for me today:

                  “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

                  John 16:12-15 (NIV2011)

                  The Spirit of truth came to me 22 years ago at the carnal age of 51. He has guided my into all truth ever since, without pause, and without end, ever.

                  I truly wish you could drop your Pharisaical facade of authority for just a moment in the presence of God to ask that you too see the Spirit of and in Christ that Caiaphas did not. Until then, you will not be able to share in the truth I share with you today, for you do not believe what you cannot see to accept, the Spirit of eternal truth.

  • Wow! That is some magic blood Jesus has. It washes away sins, it washes away tears, and now it washes the gay away. Maybe we can package it up and sell it as laundry detergent.

    • I don’t wish him harm, but I still think he’s an idiot. Or at least, vastly uninformed and obtuse (sounds a lot like *someone else*).

    • As the previous response pointed out, that’s really a question he needs to answer. What I am confident of is that he’d say he is. If that’s the case, then he’s subjected himself to the judgement of the church. It’s amazing how quickly we are to judge those outside the church, while demanding no judgement of those inside the church. Given that that is the exact opposite of what Paul said, it just blows my mind.

      Conversion therapy is evil. It has been debunked and no reputable medical/psychological organization supports it. I get that there will be disagreement in the church on the LGBT issue, but surely the differing sides can find some common ground. A great common ground to build on would be conversion therapy and it’s repudiation by all the church. Also, let’s stop hiding, or allowing others to hide, behind this tired “hate the sin, love the sinner” line. It’s nothing but a veil to drape yourself in to rationalize treating others w/ hate.

      I’ve seen someone wrestle their entire life with gender identity issues. I’ve seen the pain it causes. The pain was not due to the gender identity incongruence, but the rejection and fear of rejection from the church.

    • Was Christ a brother of Caiaphas simply because both claimed a heritage and an authority within God’s chosen people?

  • Franklin’s degree in business is probably the very reason he’s into LGBT and abortion issues: they are HUGE fundraisers in the fundamentalist Religious Right community. The American Family Association, for example, claims $25-28million in donations each year (see Charity Navigator), on those issues alone. Add in Dobson, Falwell, FRC, Franklin Graham, and you see hundreds of millions of dollars ringing up among them. Even if they spend those dollars on lobbyists and advertising, they still skim off MILLIONS in overhead and administrative costs, and it gives them vast powers with the Republican politicians at federal and state levels.

  • “If Franklin were in any other line of work he’d be found guilty of practicing without a license– his qualification is being born the son of a famous preacher, and that’s it.” I guess it’s sort of like being “qualified” to be a top adviser to the President because you’re a son-in-law or daughter.

  • Such therapies certainly work to make people no longer gay, in the older sense of that word. Those driven to suicide are certainly not happy, joyful, and lively anymore.

    • “Such therapies certainly work to make people no longer gay..” < This is total Bullshit! What color is the sky in your world?

  • Why can I not help thinking of what’s happening in Chechnya right now when I read things like this?

    No, of course, the difference is that homosexuality doesn’t EXIST in Chechnya!

  • It’s not just ‘secular’ medical bodies that are denouncing conversion therapy. Exodus was a Christian charity that tried this, but was able to realise themselves that it was not working, and causing harm, and renounced it completely.

    It’s GOOD when any believer can repent from something!

  • Thank you Corey. More commonsense. Personally, I believe that God created everyone to be just the way they are.

  • The gender-nonconforming community has moved past the “gay-straight” binary. Even transgender is sooooo 90s. We think of ourselves on a continuum. I identify as a cisgender panromantic asexual. Most people I know are some shade of gender non-binary. People are experimenting with various polyamorous arrangements. This, I think, reflects the variety of relationships described in the Bible. OK, David and Jonathan weren’t gay–but they were definitely homoromantic. Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz were polyamorous. Jesus and Lazarus were queerplatonic. Can you pray away a spectrum? When God created them “male and female,” He didn’t create a binary–He created parameters for male, female, and everything in between.

    • Regarding your last sentence, we know with certainty there is more than male and female. Intersex and non-genderconforming are God’s children, and no amount of Franklin Graham’s temper-tantrums will change this everlasting truth.

    • Well, Billy Graham also “endorsed” Mitt Ronmey right before that election too. But it’s widely known this is all more shameful deception coming from Franklin.

  • I guess my question would be is why are there so many scriptures in the bible that call homosexuality and subsequently the LGBT a sin? Some scripture even identifies it as an abomination. Therefore, how could God create someone who is gay (as your blog implies) and then condemn them for who they are? I don’t pretend to know the struggles of a person who is gay or transgendered however, we then must decide if scriptures are true or not. Paul lumps homosexuality in with fornicators, idolaters and adulterers. as those not entering the kingdom of heaven (1Cor 6:9). Therefore is the scripture accurate or because times have changed we assume that God changes with times. I don’t know enough about “conversion therapy” of gay people to comment on it but if God can transform alcoholics, drug addicts, criminals and on and on, surely if He regards homosexuality as a sin, surely he can transform that person also

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