With the news of Billy Graham’s death came a wave of mixed reactions. Many lamented the death of a man whose life marked one of faithfulness to many ministry endeavors, others utilized this as an opportunity to critique his theology, whilst others still utilized it to speak to the eschatological hope those in Christ have. Perhaps what was most interesting though was reaction from many progressives, as they saw Graham’s death as an altogether different occasion to celebrate. Graham committed the LGTBQ’s unforgivable sin: he supported traditional marriage.
I’ve been arguing for years at this point that the trajectory of LGTBQ ethics is not one wherein a middle-ground can be reached. They don’t want middle-ground. It is an all or nothing approach. Some have maintained I am an alarmist or treat progressive arguments unfairly, yet reality indicates otherwise. They are incredibly well-funded, well-organized, have great legal representation, and have the attention and backing of popular media outlets, major corporations, politicians, and celebrity personalities.
Former gay and lesbian people, now speaking against it and advocating the power of salvation through Christ, are often bullied and slandered. Heterosexuals speaking against it, advocating for the goodness of the biblical sexual ethic, are also bullied and slandered. A man, hours after his death, had his body dragged across the digital square in an effort to dishonor him. There is no tolerance for traditional marriage supporters.
As a fair warning, I am not going to censor any of their comments. I want Christians to take them in. Provocative language serves a purpose, and ultimately serves my case here quite well.
“Respecting the dead” only applies to people who weren’t evil pieces of shit while they were living, thanks.
— Lauren Duca (@laurenduca) February 21, 2018
Remember when #BillyGraham said that AIDS was a judgment from God or compared feminism to a disease? I hope he enjoys that special place in hell he is going to.
— Neil Before Zod (@ThatsMrNeil) February 21, 2018
Goes to show that even the “best” Christians are usually bigots who promote hate of some kind.#ReligionKills
— Atheism Evolution (@ConvertToNone) February 21, 2018
— David Raines (@davescookies420) February 21, 2018
#BillyGraham is dead at 99. I will not join in the chorus of praise.
Billy’s ideology was essentially Franklin’s, presented in a more diplomatic, gentler package.
— Christopher Stroop (@C_Stroop) February 21, 2018
So why bring these examples to light? Bible-believing Christians shouldn’t be shocked by them. Even when something deserves a bit more decorum and tact, we ought not to be shocked. Simply stated, the apostle Paul describes two distinct realms that believers and unbelievers operate in (1 Thess. 4: 1-8). The Christian, having been brought from death to life, has been placed in the realm of sanctification (that is, they have a vested interest in pleasing the Lord); the unbeliever operates in the realm of vileness and impurity. They exist in these two distinct realms of operation simply by the nature of what God has done – not on the basis of their heterosexuality or homosexuality, political affiliation, etc.
Yet what is even more notable is that hatred of God doesn’t have to appear as vitriolic as some of the above comments. Your unbelieving great-aunt Betty might be the kindest lady you’ve ever encountered, yet when she dies an atheist, she will meet the same end as the most vitriolic anti-theist you’ve ever witnessed. When her heart is laid bare before the Lord, the revelation of her hatred of Him will be made clear. No amount of kindness will spare her from the wrath that awaits if she refuses to repent and believe the gospel.
The Scriptures demonstrate this reality over and again, placing a focus on the fact that those who are not in Christ are God-haters. They will speak like God-haters. They will act like God-haters. Part and parcel to this is hating the one who bears likeness to that God who has revealed all truth. Bluntly stated, this is why you have a meek and mild man like Billy Graham, mere hours after his death, having his body dragged across the virtual public square and paraded about as an example of what is perceived to be bigotry.
No amount of kindness will allow one to escape this condemnation unscathed. If you preach a message contrary to the desires of this world, there will be consequences to that. I fear that we have somehow lost sight of the fact that Scripture teaches no servant is greater than their Master in every regard. No servant. Not even the late Billy Graham. If Christ, being targeted since the day He arrived in His mother’s womb did not escape this reality, you will surely not be the exception to this rule. This is precisely what we need to be woken up to: if you don’t accept the prevailing winds of cultural dogma and instead believe Scripture’s ethic, especially in regard to matters of sexuality, you don’t deserve an honorable send-off. In this we must acknowledge that the world’s Christians throughout the history of the earth have not enjoyed the relative prosperity and peace we do. The common trajectory of Christianity has not been limited to experiencing anything less than hatred for the name of the One they bear witness of.
This is the reality of the world we currently live in – and it has always been this way. Social media has a nasty habit of giving many a platform and backbone they wouldn’t otherwise have, yet it nonetheless serves as an example of humanity’s utter hatred of God. We have somehow bought into the notion that there is neutral ground, or perhaps, the rebellion of one God-hater is less severe than the hatred of another, more vocal God-hater. There is no such thing as neutral ground, nor is there such a thing as less wicked ground. Scripture simply dictates this isn’t the case, and we ought not to be surprised to find that Scripture adequately pinpoints the issue as one of worship. People are all too happy to reject the message-bearer on account of rejecting the God of the message. This is not an effort to blindly broad-brush people as if they do this in the same manner, but a depiction of these two spheres of reality Paul lays out so clearly. They are diametrically opposed because they have different understandings of reality, a different trajectory, and a different end goal.
However, we must acknowledge the reality of the spiritual dimension to this as well, in that Satan is very much at work behind the scenes. Every institution, whether it be the education system, government, media, entertainment, social structures, false religions, financial policies, etc., are all in the hand of Satan. The powers and principalities at play go far beyond political parties as well. One ought not to think the speedbump of Trump being in office will eradicate the trajectory of this nation’s liberal ethic – yet they also ought not to believe they are not at work within the heart and mind of Trump.
This is what makes the gospel so important. This is particularly what makes the work of Christ so incredibly important. Likewise, this is why we ought to feel a sense of dread when we look at our sweet, great-aunt Betty and realize she is dangling over the pit of eternal hellfire. Scripture makes no hesitations declaring there are billions of people who will willingly embrace eternal torment in favor of eternal paradise, simply because they have a profound hatred of the Lord. However, this is also our measure of encouragement, for we too were once those who hated God.
The glorious Maker of heaven and earth holds the ultimate power in His hand to change that heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh. It is the grand-reversal of our hatred for Him, ultimately bound in the greatest expression of love this world has ever seen. It is the great exchange of our sin for Christ’s righteousness. In spite of our hatred for Him and our propensity for great wickedness, the Lord displayed His love for us, while we were yet God-haters, through the crucifixion of His Son.