Franklin Graham, how did you ever become such a hypocrite?
This question bubbles up every time I see a billboard or TV ad about your upcoming stop in Greensboro Wednesday on your “Decision America Tour.”
Over the years my family has been blessed by the Grahams. My mother-in-law and wife trusted Christ at your dad Billy’s 1951 and 1972 crusades. I took my mom and dad to Russia to hear him preach in Moscow in 1992. We’ve donated to your ministry. We raised our children doing Christmas shoe boxes. I was even invited to your Boone headquarters to have lunch in the executive dining room to discuss ministry in Africa.
So, what happened to you?
For 45 years (my entire adult Christian life), evangelical pastors and evangelists like yourself have shouted from the rooftops that, in both our personal and civic lives, “morality matters.” But then in 2016, you call a time-out. You set that morality aside to support a presidential candidate who lies, cheats, steals, threatens, discriminates against his black tenants, abuses women and revels in his own immorality.
Now in 2019, you continue your support despite his invitation and willing acceptance of Russian interference, his obstruction of justice, his almost daily threats to his political opponents and his clear abuse of power in pressuring a foreign leader to dig up dirt on the Bidens. And you justify it to yourself and to your followers because of what Trump and the GOP promise to give the white evangelical Christian community.
If you are rich, you get tax cuts. If you are pro-family, you get restrictions on gay marriage. If you are pro-life, you get conservative judges to end Roe. If you are Libertarian, you get deregulation. If you are a big-wig evangelical leader, you get unfettered access to the White House and halls of power.
Franklin, you do realize that this justification is not Biblical theology, but is instead a secular, godless philosophy called Consequentialism (i.e., “the moral worth of an action is defined by its potential consequence”)?
It has a long history. It has been around since the beginning when, in Genesis 3, the serpent tempts Eve to disobey God’s clear command. It was first popularized by Demosthenes in fourth century B.C. Athens. It was revived by Machiavelli in 16th century Florence. It has gone by many names over the centuries: moral relativism, situational ethics, the end justifies the means.
But whatever it is and whatever it is called, it is definitely not biblical. Two wrongs don’t make a right. The end does not justify the means. Nowhere in Scripture are followers of Jesus Christ to accommodate evil in order to accomplish what some may believe is a greater good. If we do, then we’re not only hypocrites, but we have also become heretics.
Franklin, as you well know, the Bible holds Christian leaders to a higher standard because of their influence on others. In Luke 17, in the midst of a controversy with the religious leaders of his own time, Jesus warns his disciples about “stumbling blocks” — those who through their words and deeds lead others astray. Jesus says, “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble.”
Franklin, there will be a lot of “little ones” in your audience in Greensboro this coming Wednesday night. Are you sure you don’t want to reconsider a few things?