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Why ugly coverage of Billy Graham completely misses the mark



(Billy Graham Evangelistic Association)



Listen to the 10 min audio

Read the transcript:


TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, as the Graham family lays Billy Graham to rest, evangelicals across the country continue to mourn his death. They look back on his life in a positive way as he influenced not only America, but countries around the world. And yet NBC News has gone out of their way to do a story recently saying Billy Graham has left a painful legacy for LGBTQ people.

They go back and cite a statement back in 1993 that Billy Graham made concerning AIDS, “Is AIDS a judgment of God? I could not be sure, but I think so.” However, Graham quickly retracted those remarks, saying, “To say God has judged people with AIDS would be very wrong, very cruel. I would like to say I’m very sorry for that.”

But there are other quotations in this piece by NBC News that makes Billy Graham sound like he was more interested in politics than the Gospel and that he was somewhat of a hate-monger amongst those who didn’t share his ideology.


DR. REEDER: I don’t know of anyone who more gently and respectfully and carefully would reach out to men and women who were in opposition to him than Billy Graham — I know of no one. Billy’s under attack not for being Billy, but because of what Billy believed and what he did.

Now, was he a perfect man? Absolutely not. He’d be the first to tell you, when he was invited into the power circle of presidential authority and power, he quickly later said, “Boy, I tell you, I was manipulated and I was used and it’s my fault.” He didn’t play the victim. He said, “It was my fault and I’m going to make changes,” which he did. Billy set aside the practice of love offerings for evangelists, took a salary that was published instead, put together a board to govern his association instead of running it, himself.


He was always careful that his love for Ruth Graham would remain unchallenged and his testimony for Christ in terms of marital faithfulness would always be front and center and not only because he didn’t want to bring dishonor to the Lord with any unfaithfulness or any hint of it, but because he wanted to promote the blessings of a Christian marriage and a Christian family.

In terms of sexual ethics, he was very clear: He believed that sexuality was a gift from God, it belonged in a marriage and marriage is one man and one woman. What he said was sinister was the effects of homosexuality, not homosexuals. He would reach out to them like anyone else.


In other words, Billy Graham took the very direction of the apostle Paul. What was the direction of the apostle Paul? It was simply this: “Do you not know that no effeminate, no drunkard, no murderer, no thief, no glutton, no homosexual, no adulterer shall enter the kingdom of God and such were some of you.”

Now, where was Paul? Paul was in Corinth. It was known for its sexual promiscuity and perversion, but the apostle Paul came with a clear message: Sex is a gift from God; it belongs in marriage. If you make sex your idol and you rebel against God with sexual perversion, then what you do is stand under the judgment of God.

But this same God has loved you and He has given His Son on the cross to die for murderers, adulterers, homosexuals, effeminate, gluttons, etc. He names these nine sins that dominate into a lifestyle of rebellion against God. He wasn’t trying to give an exhaustive list of sins — he was just talking about those sins that were dominant in this culture of Corinth.

And then he showed how not only, people, how they were forgiven when they repented of those sins, but they were set free from the power of those sins. And so, the LGBTQ agenda, through the lapdog media, has now decided to attack Billy because Billy has held to a consistent ethic of marriage and sexuality. He would identify sin, but he would reach out to sinners.

And it’s back to this canard that you are hateful if you hate sin. No, you are hateful if you hate people. You don’t have to accept sin to love sinners — you don’t have to accept rebellion against God to love those who are in rebellion against God. In fact, when you do love someone, you will tell them of the destructiveness of the behavior that they are embracing.

The LGBTQ, in its incessant and insistent drive to make normal the abnormal before the holiness of God, now turns upon a preacher who says, “Here is the message that says Jesus loves you and wants you to have eternal life, but you must repent of your sins and put your trust in Him. And rebellion against God sexually is sin; therefore, sexually promiscuous and sexually perverted behavior must be identified and we must repent and come to Christ. And I warn you, if you don’t, it has its own judgment.”

Do you believe that AIDS is a judgment upon homosexuals? Billy, after reflection, would say, “No, I cannot say that.” Why? Not because God doesn’t bring judgment upon people — my goodness, all of history bears the evidence that God brings judgments and there is a judgment yet to come and the wages of sin is death. However, what he was saying was, “I don’t have the information to know is this Divine Judgment upon homosexuals.”


Now, having said that, let me now speak forth. I do believe that AIDS, just like all sexually transmitted diseases is a judgment upon sexual rebellion and sexual sins. I believe it’s a judgment upon homosexuality. Sexually transmitted diseases are a judgment upon adultery. You cannot break God’s law with impunity.

There stand the commandments of God: “You shall worship the Lord your God alone. You shall not make for yourselves any graven images. Do not take the name of the Lord in vain. Remember the Sabbath day. That you’ll honor your father and mother.” If you say no to those and go in another direction, it’s going to have judgment in your life. There’s going to be ramifications in your life. “You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not lie. You shall not steal.”

If you decide you’re going to say no to God’s Biblical ethics that he gives to us as to how we can love him with all of our heart, soul, and mind and our neighbors as ourselves — if you decide you’re going to stand in rebellion against that, that behavior of rebellion will have consequences. It does have it’s own inbred, innate judgments that come.

When you say no to God’s prescription of sex within marriage, then whether it’s sexual perversion or sexual promiscuity or sexual anarchy, it is going to have consequential judgments attached to that in your life. There are going to be consequences psychologically, spiritually, there are going to be consequences physically. Sin never brings what it promises. It brings despair and death and destruction.


And I think that’s what Mr. Graham was attempting to get to. The greatest act of love to the LGBT community, the greatest act of love to anybody and everybody who is born into this world as a sinner is to say this: “Your sins bring death physically and spiritually, but there is hope and it is a sure hope. And that hope is in Jesus Christ. The answer is not in attempting to normalize sin. The answer is to repent of our sin and come to Christ, Who accepts us through the blood of Jesus that paid for our sins. We who are forgiven of sin’s penalty are liberated from sin’s power by God’s grace, be on a journey to be liberated from sin’s practice and, one day, we will be liberated from sin’s presence.

You can certainly attack Mr. Graham for seeking to be faithful to what he always used as the rudder and light of his life, “The Bible says” — how many times have I heard him say that — “there are two main messages: Sin will kill you, Christ will save you from your sins. You come to Him.”

NBC News, you can certainly do your hit piece, but I want you to know, in the heavens, there are many, many people. I know they’re laying aside the body of Dr. Graham today, but he’s already with the Lord. Can you imagine — can you imagine — the number of people that have come up to him and, in the name of Christ, said, “Thank you for telling me about Jesus”?

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News. Jessica has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and her work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.