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.

No, Franklin Graham, LGBTQ Children Are Not The Enemy

 

(What Franklin Graham is Wrong About Today, Vol 3)

Sometimes I see a comment or hear a clip of Franklin Graham, and while I typically disagree, many times they are dismissible comments that allow one to roll their eyes and move on. But then there are times where his comments are so damaging, so destructive, so heartbreaking, that they cannot be ignored by anyone with half a conscience.

Such is the case with comments that were aired recently on the radio program of Dr. James Dobson. In the interview they discussed one of Franklin Graham’s favorite topics: all things LGBTQ. This time however, the focus was more on our LGBTQ children– the beautiful children among us, image bearers of the Living God, who happen to be LGBTQ.

I’ll be honest; Franklin Graham has said a lot of things that have made me angry. But this time? This time I felt a sadness that swept over me as I considered the implications of his ideas. Speaking of LGBTQ children Franklin said:

“We have allowed the Enemy to come into our churches. I was talking to some Christians and they were talking about how they invited these gay children to come into their home and to come into the church and that they were wanting to influence them. And I thought to myself, they’re not going to influence those kids; those kids are going to influence those parent’s children. 

What happens is we think we can fight by smiling and being real nice and loving. We have to understand who the Enemy is and what he wants to do. He wants to devour our homes. He wants to devour this nation and we have to be so careful who we let our kids hang out with. We have to be so careful who we let into the churches. You have immoral people who get into the churches and it begins to effect the others in the church and it is dangerous.” 

The reason why Franklin’s comments make me so incredibly sad is because of how destructive and violent they are. Make no mistake about it– what he’s teaching on this point is not harmless, but is actively destroying lives.

Don’t let our children have LGBTQ friends?

Make sure we don’t let LGBTQ kids in our churches?

I mean, are LGBTQ children not isolated and vulnerable enough already?

Violent, fear-based teaching such as expressed by Franklin Graham is precisely why 40% of homeless children in the United States are LGBTQ. It’s also why 68% of them report their homelessness is due to family rejection because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, often by religious parents.

For someone with millions of followers, these are dangerous, dangerous ideas– ideas the people of Jesus must resist and rebuke.

Jesus once said that you can tell a good tree from a bad tree based upon whether or not such a tree produces good fruit or bad fruit. Regardless of one’s theological persuasions on these matters, one need not a botany degree to know that a net result of homeless children is bad, bad fruit.

As I ponder this statement by Franklin Graham, I almost wonder if he’s read the New Testament yet, or if he understood what he read if he did make it that far. Because you know what? This was the same attitude of the religious leaders of Jesus’s time (the only group of people whose sin Jesus publicly rebuked). They couldn’t fathom why Jesus preferred the company he kept, why he included the excluded, or why Jesus pushed back so hard when they questioned it.

In fact, one of my favorite moments in Scripture is when Jesus stood outside the temple and yelled to them, “Hey guys! I’ll tell you the truth: the sinners and tax collectors have entered the Kingdom ahead of you!”

Let’s just say they weren’t amused with Jesus. (Not to spoil the ending, but they actually ended up killing him.)

All these years later, I can imagine Jesus shouting the same thing outside of Franklin Graham’s office: “Hey Franklin! I’ll tell you the truth: our LGBTQ kids have entered the Kingdom of God ahead of you!”

Because from what I can see, that’s exactly what’s happening. I see our beautiful LGBTQ children who love Jesus, love their parents, siblings, and everyone else.

And I see them shut out, snuffed out, and their lives destroyed by the kind of ideas being expressed by Franklin Graham.

Why Franklin Graham feels our LGBTQ children are the enemy and need to be excluded from our lives, I have no idea. All I know is it’s a destructive belief that produces horrible fruit, and that it is not rooted in the tradition of Jesus of Nazareth.

Our LGBTQ kids are not the enemy.

But ideas that lead them to be isolated, shunned, and abandoned?

Well, those ideas are certainly the enemy– and it’s an enemy worth fighting.

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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  • I think he’s just talking about a basic parenting principle, and merely using “gay children” as an example. If you swapped out, say, “racist children” for “gay children” and left everything else in his comment the same, I don’t think the author would probably have a problem with it. Or if not “racist children,” swap it out for some other character trait/belief/behavior you find undesirable that you wouldn’t want to see influencing your children. Any decent parent would try to keep his kids from being influenced by kids exhibiting that trait/belief/behavior. So Graham’s principle is sound; everyone can agree on that, I’m sure. The real question is about the sin of homosexuality, but the author doesn’t go into that. Instead he tries to marginalize Graham, who almost certainly wouldn’t be welcomed in churches attended by many commenters here. It would be chilly to hostile, especially if he began to influence people there toward the traditional understanding of homosexuality. So, long story short, it’s plain that this is standard progressive posturing. It accomplishes the exact same thing it criticizes. It just aims to marginalize a different group. At least Graham is honest and upfront about it.

  • Your article touches on one of the most significant issues domestically and globally , over the past few decades.It will take eons for the general population to realize that homosexuality if a function of nature and not an offense against it. I’ve been fortunate in that I have never been harassed or subjected to violence due to sexual orientation. But almost everyone I’ve known has been , and I’m now over 60 years of age. This includes three friends through the years that were brutally murdered in unspeakable crimes that have never been solved. But there is one instance in relatively recent history that is especially odious. In brief : during the early years of the AIDS epidemic , the ‘religious right’ vigorously and at first, successfully opposed the use of any public funds for research into HIV. The nature of this retrovirus meant it would be a challenge in any event but their actions inevitably contributed to the delay in the development of effective treatment options. Thus thousands were denied even a fighting chance at survival. The real slap in the face comes with the reality that the intense scrutiny of HIV/AIDS opened doors to science and medicine that we never knew existed. A whole host of illnesses and disabilities have, and will, benefit from such studies. I cannot think of anything less Christian than the exclusion of an entire segment of humanity. Kudos to you for writing such a good and meaningful article.

  • In a way, Franklin Is right. Gay rights have been the product of straight people getting know gay people and finding out they are not the monsters the church says they are. If Franklin is successful in keeping his followers from having anything to do with any gay people, he can keep them faithfully against any further development of gay right’s to some extent. When people find out the church was wrong about gay people, they may begin to wonder what else the church has gotten wrong. Franklin Graham is afraid he could loose his followers, and he should be afraid.Because unless he changes his stance toward gay people, he is going to have fewer and fewer followers and less and less influence. Franklin Graham is in the process of becoming irrelevant, and he knows it.

    The only way Franklin can really win this war is to force gay people back into the closet, and that’s very unlikely to happen. Once a bell has been rung, it can’t be un rung.

  • Okay, I’m going to have to leave this discussion. When nothing but venom and hate are spewed, it puts me in a bad place. The Graham defenders are having to completely fabricate comments because his actual comments are quite clear. His actual comments are dangerous and not grounded in Christ. So, the Graham followers pretend like he’s saying something that he didn’t actually say. It is impossible to have constructive discourse with people that simply refuse to come to the table with any honesty or love.

    Have a great day everyone.

  • Franklin is correct unrepentant homosexuals have no place in the church and Jesus was not a liberal in the slightest on sin he taught repentance.

  • BLC
    I am so proud of your work, your words and the fact that you have an educated, empathetic point of view.
    I grew up in a very blue collar, isolated and ignorant trailer park community. I knew as early as age 6, that I had unusual feelings and interests that soon began to set me apart from my best friends and even my family.
    In 1963, Dundalk was not the place to be recognized as ” one of them”, and suffice it to say I had to learn early on how to defend myself against the angry, sometimes very violent reactions to the fact that I was simply being me.
    In highschool things like the various choirs and drama classes and clubs allowed me to discover that I was not alone, that there was nothing sad, bad or evil about the path The Universe had placed me on. I was so very fortunate to have instructors and mentors that recognized the gifts and talents that The Universe had gifted to me, and who helped me get the training and scholarship funding that lead to a 30 plus year career in the entertainment community!
    I am also extremely grateful that The Universe gave me the insight and opportunity to help teach and mentor so many talented, beautiful young people who have also gone on to have even more success in show business than I did.
    The hateful vitrol spewed forth by Mr Graham and his followers will most likely always be a wall ( thank you Mr Trump!) that separates people of differing viewpoints.
    But if we continue to bring to the conversation the type of same minded ignorance, judgment, and vituperative unyielding points of view, how can we have any chance of re educating those close minded, seemingly hopeless individuals that so desperately need a glimpse of the fact that The Universe is good…I’m just saying…

  • What distresses me is that so many Christians with fine sounding arguments and appeals to reason give bigots and people haters a cast iron excuse to continue in their hypocrisy and restrict the Gospel to a moral code devoid of any risk to love. They value their own petty lives and completely deny Jesus’ request to swap such a moth eaten life that they will ultimately lose for one that cannot be taken away from them.

    When my faith is safe, depends only on an ABC prayer and a prescribed morality and is a ticket to heaven, it is not a faith in the Jesus who asked us to risk all for love. Where your treasure is there your heart is also. Graham’s treasure is in his wealth, his position, his religion, his politics and the fence he puts up between his own and the ‘sinners’ he so clearly despises.

  • Benjamin:
    I’ll be honest; Franklin Graham has said a lot of things that have made me angry. But this time? This time I felt a sadness that swept over me as I considered the implications of his ideas. Speaking of LGBTQ children Franklin said:

    “We have allowed the Enemy to come into our churches. I was talking to some Christians and they were talking about how they invited these gay children to come into their home and to come into the church and that they were wanting to influence them. And I thought to myself, they’re not going to influence those kids; those kids are going to influence those parent’s children.

    What happens is we think we can fight by smiling and being real nice and loving. We have to understand who the Enemy is and what he wants to do. He wants to devour our homes. He wants to devour this nation and we have to be so careful who we let our kids hang out with. We have to be so careful who we let into the churches. You have immoral people who get into the churches and it begins to effect the others in the church and it is dangerous.”

    Ronny to Benjamin:
    Yes, I do believe parents need to be careful, about who they let their kids hang out with. For example, I don’t think any parent should let their kid(s) hang out with Franklin Graham or those like him. And I can’t see anything he says here, that would make me think he has ever been saved/born of God. But, if he hasn’t been, he will be. For God/Jesus Christ, will see to that. 🙂

    And Franklin Graham said we have to be careful of who we let into the church. Well, I have news for him; I’m gay and it was God/Jesus Christ who put me into the church/body of Christ. And in doing so, in my being born of God, God never even brought up my being gay, much less called on me to repent of such. In fact, God brought me to repentance over my sinful selfrighteousness. And the great irony is, I was taught to be selfrighteous, in the church I was brought up in. I was taught there, that I was better than other people, because I was a member of that particular church.

    Well, to start off with, I was made a member of that church, when I was 12 years old. Now I knew I was gay, at that age. Though I had never heard the words gay or homosexual. But I overheard some of my church elders scornfully talking about those homosexuals, how they chose to be that and how it was the worst of sins. Then I looked up the word in my Mom’s medical dictionary and found they were talking about people like me! 🙁 So, I went up at church in tears, believing everything the pastor said about God,Jesus Christ, the Bible,etc,etc. He thought I had been saved/born again. So, so did I. Baptized a few days later, so a member of that local church. For four years, I truly thought I had been saved and was a Christain; but what I actually was, was just a wet Baptist! (ha) 🙂 Then four years later, God/Jesus Christ directly entered my life and I was born of God. 🙂 And as I say, God never condemned my being gay or called me to repent of such; but irony of ironies, God showed me my sin of selfrighteousness and the goodness of God, caused me to repent of that. 🙂

    Yeah, I was put into the church/body of Jesus Christ by God and God sure didn’t need to ask Franklin Graham or anyone else for permission, to do just that! 🙂

    Simply put, I would tell young people or older persons, don’t believe in and follow a Franklin Graham. But who you can believe in and follow is God/Jesus Christ. For they love you and that true, no matter what the likes of a Franklin Graham, says about you. Well, he isn’t God. He isn’t Jesus Christ. He was never on the cross for us, there taking our sins upon himself. No, that wasn’t a Franklin Graham; but that was Jesus Christ, who loved and loves us all, just that much! And that so, whether you’re gay, bisexual, heterosexual, male, female, intersexed or transgendered! 🙂

  • Jesus spoke of people like Graham in that prostitutes and tax collectors will enter the kingdom before them.

    I worry that someone like Graham will indoctrinate my kids so I teach them how to read the Bible.

  • “We have to be so careful who we let into the churches” — how can any Christian hear this and not see that it is the ultimate antithesis of Jesus?

  • Pardon the tl;dr but Graham’s words have really set me off.

    Just as I am, without one plea,
    But that Thy blood was shed for me,
    And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee,
    O Lamb of God, I come! I come!

    An evangelist is a shepherd and I grew up believing that Billy Graham was not just a good man, but a good shepherd.

    I knew by heart the lyrics of the hymn that closed his crusades. I had answered more than one altar call to the cadence of those words and that tune.

    It’s a powerful message: God wanted me just as I am, flawed, doubtful, blind, lost. All I had to do was get up and walk into the arms of Jesus.

    Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
    Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
    Because Thy promise I believe,
    O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

    But according to Billy’s son, that song doesn’t apply to everyone. Some can’t be permitted to come, just as they are. Some can’t be allowed — it seems — to even approach the door. They are monsters, he insists, who will devour homes, steal children and destroy the entire nation.

    The problem is I have known some LGBTQ people who had both their hearts and minds set on Jesus. One was the pastor of my long-time church. Michael is a great example of Christ and the best example of a servant/shepherd I’ve seen in 55 years of being in and around churches of all kinds.

    Faced with the contradictions of Franklin’s words and Michael’s life, I have to make a choice. They can’t both being telling the truth, one must a liar.

    Michael is who he is. Those who know him will attest to his qualities. Those who agree with Franklin likely don’t need to meet Michael to render judgment. I’m not going to defend him, his morality, or whether he should be allowed in a church. Rather, I’m going to compare Franklin’s words and the things he has done to those of the Master Shepherd.

    I first encountered Franklin through the charity Samaritan’s Purse. Christmas campaigns were done in support of that charity and I heartily recommended it to many seeking a responsible way to help meet the spiritual and physical needs of people around the world who were suffering from war, poverty, disaster, disease, and famine.

    I ended my relationship with Samaritan’s Purse during the run up to the last presidential election. Franklin had dismayed me before, with such things as his support of the Iraq invasion, but I kept supporting his good cause because it seemed like something Jesus would support. But, early in 2012, Franklin said that followers of Jesus would be compromising their faith if they voted for Obama, while also opining that the president might not qualify as a real Christian.

    While I was not and am not a big fan of President Obama, I was taken aback to hear a spiritual leader of Franklin’s stature questioning whether the man was saved. But Franklin wasn’t content to stop there, he apparently could see into the hearts and minds of many politicians.

    He backed Donald Trump in 2011 and endorsed the real estate mogul again in December, 2015. Franklin’s support is apparently tied to their shared desire to see severe restrictions on muslims coming to the US and those already here. Everyone knows that Trump thinks it might be necessary to round them all up and put them into camps. But here’s what Franklin had to say on the subject.

    “Every Muslim that comes into this country has the potential to be radicalized — and they do their killing to honor their religion and Muhammad, During World War 2, we didn’t allow Japanese to immigrate to America, nor did we allow Germans. Why are we allowing Muslims now?”

    Franklin also professed himself a big fan of Sarah Palin and went so far as to use jets owned by Samartian’s Purse to chauffeur her around the country.

    But Rick Santorum was the candidate Franklin believed was most closely aligned to Christian values in his words and deeds. So, while he wasn’t sure about the salvation of Pres. Obama, Franklin said Santorum was clearly the real deal.

    That all leads to the most ironic of Franklin’s tangled spiritual and political endorsements. When Franklin was first asked about candidate Mitt Romney’s faith he said: Most Protestants do not view Mormonism as a Christian faith.

    Perhaps more to the point, Mormonism was listed as a cult on the Billy Graham Evangelical Association website right up until November, 2012.

    You see, Mormons’s may call themselves The Church of Jesus Christ, but what they believe isn’t in synch with some central tenants of Christianity. Forget for the moment the exclusionary nature of Mormonism (if you aren’t a member of the Mormon church, you’re going to hell) or the tabloidish issue of polygamy.

    Consider that Mormons believe that the faithful all have the potential to become gods themselves, which will allow them to create their own universes complete with inhabitants to whom they would send — if necessary — a savior of their own making.

    So, Franklin and his dad took the position Mormons not only aren’t Christians, but — as members of a cult — they are a danger to the church. Until Mitt Romney became the Republican nominee for president. Then Billy Graham publicly endorsed him and Franklin said voters should look past a candidate’s personal religion when choosing a candidate for office.

    And all references to the Mormon religion being a cult were scrubbed from the BGEA website.

    So, apparently the Church can and should open its doors to those who believe in magic underpants and the exaltation of the truly faithful to the state of godhood.

    But not someone who is gay, no matter how much they try to imitate Christ.

    To me this says that Franklin Graham is something worse than a liar. Worse even than a bad man. He is a wolf in shepherd’s clothing.

    When Peter asked Jesus how to prove his love, Jesus said: “Feed my sheep.” When Jesus spoke to the masses he said: “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? So, I tell you, love your enemies.”

    In some of the harshest words in the New Testament Jesus condemned those who made themselves bouncers at the door to the Kingdom of God.

    And in warning to the faithful Jesus said: Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.

    It isn’t up to me whether Franklin Graham is a Christian. That’s between him and God. And I’m not going to tell him where he can’t go or what he can’t say.

    But when he orders that the doors to the Church — not the building down the street, but the body of Christ itself — must be barred to those he doesn’t like, then I’m not simply going to withhold my support for his ministry or turn him a deaf ear. I’m going to respond: You do not speak for Jesus. You do not speak for me. Maybe the words of that old hymn are false, but the invitation from Jesus remains true.

    “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

  • Dr Corey thanks for this article. I did not know that Graham said those things. So appalling, but I am not too surprised! Good article.

  • Homosexuality and guns. Two surefire topics that you can almost guarantee the most unloving responses from American Christians on.

  • The four-walled churches are not the Church of Jesus Christ. The 4-walled churches might have some of those of Christ’s Church occupying the seats, but those who are really His, don’t have to prove membership to a worldly man like Franklin Graham.

    No man has to give account to Franklin Graham, but only to Jesus our Lord and Saviour. In fact, these past few decades there’s been a trend to talk about personal sin to strangers and wear one’s christianity on their sleeve; this started with christian TV. The voices we hear who wear their ‘I am a Christian’ medal, or hold their poster up for all to see, for political gain and greed are in danger of not being part of Christ’s true Church. Anyone part of the Body of Christ will never lift themselves up, lift up their campaign, ministry, name, family, heritage, flag, to gain notoriety for Christ. Only Jesus should be publically lifted up and worshipped.

    Any true Child of God should never prevent anyone from entering the Kingdom of Heaven; those like Graham stand at the door and think they are Heaven’s appointed bouncer. Sin? Do we check out every pew and seek each member’s sin card? There are many who appear righteous, but underneath are full of dead men’s bones.

    Revelation 22:17 says: “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” The Spirit’s words are who we should listen to, and NOT Franklin Graham.

    Things are coming to a head around the world, and if a child wants to sit at the feet of Jesus and learn, let him learn. It’s not up to us to play sin police. Our own responsibility is to train up our children in the word and our responsibility is to sow God’s good seed, not pluck it out of the garden before it’s fully grown.

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