Of all the attacks that have come against Rev. Billy Graham in his decades of ministry, a recent attack from gay activist Wayne Besen may be the most ridiculous yet. It was all because Graham took out a full-page ad in 14 North Carolina newspapers supporting the now-passed Marriage Amendment. How dare he!
The ad featured a large picture of Graham with these words: “At 93, I never thought we would have to debate the definition of marriage. The Bible is clear — God’s definition of marriage is between a man and a woman. I want to urge my fellow North Carolinians to vote FOR the marriage amendment on Tuesday, May 8. God bless you as you vote.”
That’s it. A simple statement by the most respected Christian leader in America in the 20th century reaffirming what was never disputed until recent years, despite the presence of homosexual relationships in various societies for countless centuries: Marriage is between a man and a woman, and, for those who care to know, there’s not a syllable in the Scriptures that gives the slightest hint that marriage is intended to be anything other than the union of a man and a woman.
How did Besen respond to the ad? He called Graham a “onetime anti-Semite,” referred to him as “this fraud,” grouped him with other “totalitarian preachers,” and claimed that “Graham is now trying to jam his own church’s rules and doctrine down my throat” and that “he thinks I should be forced against my will to live by its rules.”
Besen asked, “Do we now make our civil laws based upon Christian Sharia? Do we all have to follow his version of the Bible or be punished by government? And if this is the case, are we really a free country? Are we really much different than Iran, or is it only by a matter of degrees or a matter of time until these so-called ‘Christian Supremacists’ get their paws on all of our laws?” (Yes, this is meant to be taken seriously.)
Besen continued: “I’m not sure who Billy Graham thinks he is. But it seems like he believes he is superior and his followers have a mandate to hijack civil law and decide for the rest of us how we live.” As for what the Bible says about marriage, Besen stated that Graham is “dead wrong about the Bible being clear.”
John Becker, a colleague of Besen, wrote, “It says a lot about the man’s true character that he selected for what may be his final public gesture an act of malice, divisiveness, and discrimination.” (Yes, you read that correctly: reaffirming natural, organic marriage is “an act of malice, divisiveness, and discrimination.”)
According to actor Michael Varrati, implicit in the “First Amendment is the separation of church and state, a basic principle that was championed by Thomas Jefferson to ensure that you could celebrate your faith peaceably without cr--ping all over someone else’s rights or beliefs.”
How do we respond to this? It’s certainly tempting simply to ignore these charges, but since there are many who actually believe them to be true, here’s a brief response:
1) Reaffirming marriage as the union of a man and a woman (the only thing the human race has known throughout recorded history until the last 11 years) is as far from Sharia law as Billy Graham is from Wayne Besen. And this has nothing to do with actions of “Christian Supremacists,” a derogatory term used by Besen but one that is totally foreign to the people themselves. (Using Besen’s own criteria, would he qualify as a “Gay Supremacist”?) This simply has to do with American citizens saying, “We really don’t want an activist judge to redefine marriage in our state, so we’re going to secure that in our constitution.” For many of these citizens, this has nothing to do with the Bible.
2) To encourage Christians to vote based on their religious and moral convictions is not hijacking civil law or trying to jam church rules or doctrines down anyone’s throat. It’s called democracy in action. Ironically, when gay activists want to push their agenda or goals or religious convictions on everyone else, it’s called America at her best, a great example of equality and freedom.
3) This has nothing to do with someone’s “version of the Bible.” Every Bible in every language says the same thing regarding God’s intent about marriage. Read the words of Jesus himself in Matthew 19:4-6 if you have any doubt. Read them in any translation or in the Greek. They all say the same thing.
4) The “separation of Church and state” which Jefferson championed was meant to keep the state out of the church’s business, not to keep the church out of the state’s business. Once again, though, it is ironic that those who want to keep conservative Christians from being a political force – in the name of the separation of Church and state – strongly encourage liberal Christians to influence politics and government based on their interpretation of the Bible. Besen himself called for a “spirit of rebellion” that “should begin with mainstream Christians who should be absolutely livid and incensed.”
The bottom line is this: It would be one thing if conservative Christians in America wanted to pass laws that called for the hanging of gays or the beheading of adulterers (as still takes place in countries like Iran or Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia). It’s another thing entirely when they say, “We don’t believe God intended a man to marry a man, and we will vote accordingly.” To call that Christian Sharia is to admit that you have nothing of substance to say.