Skip to comments.Franklin Graham and the High Cost of the Lost Evangelical Witness (Barf Alert)
Posted on 04/25/2019 2:44:58 PM PDT by Ennis85
Its hard to think of a single prominent American Christian who better illustrates the collapsing Evangelical public witness than Franklin Graham, Billy Grahams son. His commitment to the Christian character of American public officials seems to depend largely on their partisan political identity.
Lets look at the record. In 1998, at the height of Bill Clintons sex scandals, the younger Graham wrote a powerful op-ed in the Wall Street Journal combating Clintons assertion that his affair was a private matter. Clinton argued that his misdeeds were between me, the two people I love the most my wife and our daughter and our God. Graham noted that even the most private of sins can have very public, devastating consequences, and he asked a simple question: If [Clinton] will lie to or mislead his wife and daughter, those with whom he is most intimate, what will prevent him from doing the same to the American public?
Graham was right: Clinton, it turned out, wouldnt just lie to mislead his family. Hed lie to influence courts, Congress, and the American people.
Fast-forward 20 years. By 2018, Donald Trump was president and helping to win important policy victories for religious conservatives and Grahams tune had changed dramatically. He actively repudiated his condemnations of Clinton, calling the Republican pursuit of the then-president a great mistake that should never have happened, and argued that this thing with Stormy Daniels and so forth is nobodys business.
Graham was wrong: Trump, it turns out, doesnt just lie to mislead his family. He lies all the time to influence courts, Congress, and the American people.
So is this the new normal for Evangelicals? Is politics entirely transactional now? Do we evaluate politicians only on their policies and leave the sex discussions to the privacy of their own bedrooms?
Apparently not, according to . . . Franklin Graham. Now that the Democratic primary is gaining steam and a gay candidate is surging forward, Graham has rediscovered his moral voice. Yesterday he tweeted this:
Yes, marriage is the union between a man and a woman, but Trump married a woman, then married his mistress, then married a third woman, then had an affair with a porn star while that third wife was pregnant with his child. Yet Graham says, God put him in the presidency and we need to get behind him and support him.
The proper Evangelical position toward any president is not hard to articulate, though it is exceedingly difficult to hold to, especially in polarized times when one party seems set on limiting religious liberty and zealously defending abortion: We should pray for presidents, critique them when theyre wrong, praise them when theyre right, and never, ever impose partisan double standards. We cant ever forget the importance of character, the necessity of our own integrity, and the power of the prophetic witness.
In other words, Evangelicals can never take a purely transactional approach to politics. We are never divorced from our transcendent purpose, which always trumps political expediency. In scripture, prophets confronted leaders about their sin. They understood a core truth, one clearly articulated in the Southern Baptist Conventions 1998 Resolution on Moral Character of Public Officials: Tolerance of serious wrong by leaders sears the conscience of the culture, spawns unrestrained immorality and lawlessness in the society, and surely results in Gods judgment.
All too many of our nations Evangelical leaders havent just tolerated serious wrongdoing by Trump, theyve rationalized and minimized it. Some have even given the thumbs up in front of a Playboy cover. (What would Nathan, who dramatically confronted David over his infidelity and murder, say?) In so doing, theyve seared the consciences of the culture and the church, and granted their secular opponents all the ammunition necessary to question our sincerity as believers.
Scripture repeatedly warns that Christians should expect to be despised by the world, and in many quarters of our culture (the academy, Silicon Valley, Hollywood), Evangelicals are among the most-hated members of all. But whenever someone hates us, we should ask why. If its because of our faith, we should rejoice; if its because of our sin, we should be humble enough to repent. Even the best of men are far from perfect, and our troubles can be our own fault.
Franklin Graham is under fire today. He should be. His double standards have cost the church. This mistake should not define him he has done much good and preached the Gospel faithfully for many years but it should grieve him. Through his blatant hypocrisy, he has earned his critics wrath.
Graham rightly sees that Buttigieg is not just behaving immorally but PREACHING that his own behavior is normative, good, moral, and even redemptive. Evangelicals sure ought to have a problem with that. I don’t recall Trump claiming anything of the kind about his own sex life.
The left hates Mike Pence even though he as no history of sexual peccadilloes. They hate him because he is a traditional Christian. French is an idiot.
“Graham was wrong: Trump, it turns out, doesnt just lie to mislead his family. He lies all the time to influence courts, Congress, and the American people.”
Never Trumpers just don’t quit do they?
Now they are trash talking Franklin Graham because he supports our President?
NatRev can suck it.
I used to love to read David French. Now, I can’t get through a paragraph. There is probably no [formerly conservative] writer who has been more affected by Trump Derangement Syndrome than has French. He was really a conservative, once upon a time. The only writers at NR I can stomach any more are Rich Lowry, Victor Hansen Davis, and Andrew McCarthy.
True. Trump never claimed we should support him because of his sex life; moreover, he - as far as we know, and unlike JFK and Clinton - left his sexual mingdinkling behind when he entered the White House.
I’m Catholic but it seems to me Graham is thinking smart and how could he EVER back a pro abortion or 2 married men?!?1
He looks past Trump’s past transgressions because it is just that, the past. Clinton’s, at the time, was in the PRESENT, in the WHITE HOUSE.
And also because the fates of 100s of millions of people override the past sins of one person.
If he did indeed roll the dice with Trump, sensing that he was a moral and good man, he won on that roll.
You are right about French. In five years he’ll probably be working for The Atlantic or Teen Vogue.
When a revival happens in party A while party B keeps on backsliding, it’s kind of hard to ignore that. Given and not controversial.
Could Franklin Graham use a little more finesse? I’d say yes. I’d do something to keep up a call for the GOP not to fall down halfway along to God in patting themselves on the back, and for the Democrats to turn back to God and rediscover the holy context of liberality. The same God who says repent, also says finish the race.
It wasn't the 'sex scandals'. Most people already knew that Bill was an amoral adulterer (as well as a draft dodger) when he was elected in 1992 (its beyond me how he got elected ... but that's another story). The issue in 1998 was that he lied to a Grand Jury. Something that would have gotten a common citizen put into jail. The idea of different laws for different people (the 'royals' in the Political class, vs the Progs) is repulsive. As it was then, and as it is now.
By the way, does David French ever attack Democrats’ morals?
Does not French know that the left systematically and deliberately lies about everything? We accept a flawed Trump because he’s the only one standing up for this country.
Trump's no saint, or would even make a good Sunday school teacher. We elected him not for spiritual guidance, but to be our mercenary against the atheist hoards trying to overtake us. He's not our pastor, but the sentry outside our women's restrooms keeping out the men who Dims claim are all evil sex predators anyway. He's not our counselor, but our Charles Martel fighting back against the jihadist invaders.
“...then had an affair with a porn star while that third wife was pregnant with his child.”
French takes the word of a porn star. And he wants to be president.
Trump is admittedly a flawed individual.
So was King David. And God was able to use him mightily.
Trump’s life has actually be trending in the right direction over the years. Unlike Slick Willie, who continues to dig in and try to defend what he did.
Trump is the finger in the dike that is holding back a tidal wave of Evil Leftist Satanic Sewage. Graham is supporting Trump because he truly IS our last line of defense.
David French is an idiot.
“At the worst” in Donald Trump, the past high roller and conspicuous consumer and playboy, we have a parallel to Rahab the Harlot.
God wiped all Rahab’s sin off the slate in her demonstrated faith in the salvation of the God of the Jews — and she gets praise in the New Testament book of Hebrews. Rahab was wise when she learned of this God, whatever foolish things she had done in the past. America has acted the playboy for a long, long time; why shouldn’t a revival begin with a president who had been a playboy?
Excellent observation — and we must conclude from this that “The glory belongs to God.”
People ought to be saying that if Jesus can save Donald Trump — Jesus certainly should be able to save us.
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