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Evangelist Billy Graham defends Chick-fil-A
July 26th, 2012
02:18 PM ET

Evangelist Billy Graham defends Chick-fil-A

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN

(CNN)– Billy Graham, the dean of American evangelists, has once again broken his usual silence on hot-button issues, defending the president of the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain for his opposition to same-sex marriage days after issuing a letter decrying what he sees as the nation's moral decay.

Earlier this year, the ailing preacher publicly endorsed a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay unions in North Carolina, raising eyebrows among many who'd watched Graham studiously avoid thorny social issues for years.

On Thursday, he issued a statement of support for the popular fast-food chain. Many people have slammed Chick-fil-A President Don Cathy for saying his company backs the traditional family unit and is opposed to same-sex marriage.

Graham praised restaurant founder S. Truett Cathy and son Don Cathy, the company's president, "for their strong stand for the Christian faith."

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"I've known their family for many years and have watched them grow Chick-fil-A into one of the best businesses in America while never compromising their values," Graham said.

The Chick-fil-A controversy reflects what many see as America's deep cultural and religious divide. The company's position on same-sex marriage doesn't sit well with Jim Henson Co., whose Jim Henson's Creature Shop toys have been served in Chick-fil-A's meals for children.

Jim Henson Co. is named for the creator of The Muppets. However, the company transferred The Muppets' rights and ownership to the Walt Disney Co. in 2003, according to Jim Henson Co.

"The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over 50 years and we have notified Chick-fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors," the company said in a posting on its Facebook page.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a 2008 GOP presidential candidate, is backing Chick-fil-A. He urged people to turn out to Chick-fil-A restaurants on Wednesday to show their support for what Cathy had to say about marriage.

Graham says he appreciated Huckabee's leadership and plans to visit a Chick-fil-A on that day, August 1.

"Each generation faces different issues and challenges, but our standard must always be measured by God's word. I appreciate the Cathy family's public support for God's definition of marriage."

On Tuesday, Graham leveled deep criticism at the United States. He compared the country to Sodom and Gomorrah, the Biblical cities synonymous with sin.

"Self-centered indulgence, pride, and a lack of shame over sin are now emblems of the American lifestyle," Graham writes in the open letter released by his organization this week.

He blasts what he sees as efforts to keep references to Jesus out of the public sphere.

"Our society strives to avoid any possibility of offending anyone - except God. Yet the farther we get from God, the more the world spirals out of control," he writes in the letter released Tuesday.

Graham, 93, has preached to untold millions over six decades, and provided counsel to generations of U.S. presidents.

His open letter also contains a fund-raising appeal and a notice that Graham's son Franklin, himself a major evangelical figure, is launching a new effort to "bring the Gospel into neighborhoods and homes in every corner of America next year."

Randall Balmer, the chair of the religion department at Dartmouth College, suspects the motivation for the letter is at least partly political.

"It's hard for me to believe that this letter does not have political intent," he said.

Its move to decry what he would see as moral decay "would be tied to the Obama administration," he argued, asking rhetorically why Graham would not have issued the statement in response to an event like the Abu Ghraib torture scandal.

In response to the controversy, Larry Ross, Graham’s spokesperson, said that “the letter does not address timely issues.”

“‘My Heart Aches for America,’ was written 6-8 weeks ago – long before recent current events, such as the tragic shooting in an Aurora, Colo movie theater, or the ongoing Chik-fil-A controversy,” Ross said in an email to CNN. “He is responding to general struggles in our culture and a moral decline that has existed through his public ministry.”

At the same time, Ross said that Graham is keen on the idea of eating Chick-fil-A next Wednesday.

“Considering Mr. Graham's age and limited mobility, his statement today was more an expression of sentiment and solidarity with the Cathy family and their cause than actually a commitment to go to a Chik-fil-A himself,” Ross said. “But he does plan to ‘Eat Mor Chikin’ on Aug. 1, which I expect someone will be able to get for him to enjoy at home.”

Balmer said that evangelicals would take note of the letter, though Graham has largely retired from the public eye in recent years.

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"There is certainly admiration for Billy Graham, as there should be," Balmer said. "There is lingering respect for Billy Graham and I think that people will take notice."

But he said the comparison to Sodom and Gomorrah - which Graham attributes to his late wife Ruth in the letter - was startling.

"When Billy Graham came to Madison Square Garden in 1957, he made comments comparing New York City to Sodom and Gomorrah and was roundly criticized for it," Balmer said. Since that time, Balmer said, Graham has largely avoided making the comparison to the Biblical cities.

CNN's Joe Sterling contributed to this report.

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Belief • Billy Graham • Christianity • Church and state • Food

soundoff (2,864 Responses)
  1. Shawn

    Let me start this off with a quote from a famous lesbian, Lynn Lavner:

    "There are 6 admonishments in the Bible concerning homosexual activity, and our enemies are always throwing them up to us – usually in a vicious way and very much out of context.

    What they don't want us to remember is that there are 362 admonishments in the Bible concerning heterosexual activity. I don't mean to imply by this that God doesn't love straight people, only that they seem to require a great deal more supervision."

    I am going to attempt to keep this short and simple, so here we go.

    Some claim that Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 clearly say that homosexual sex is an abomination. In fact, it merits death. Isn't it obvious that God hates homosexuality?

    Yes, depending on which translation you are using, Leviticus does say, "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female, it's an abomination." However, a few points must be made about this statement:

    a) It appears in Leviticus, which was given to preserve the distinctive characteristics of the religion and culture of Israel. However, as stated in Galatians 3:22-55, Christians are no longer bound by these Jewish laws. Even if you, for some reason, argue that these "laws" are still important, then you surely follow all of them, right?

    It is interesting that people who use Leviticus against the gay community forget the part that talks about religious sacrifices, making women sleep in tents outside during their period, the dietary restrictions placed on them and how to cleanse a leper, all of which appear in Leviticus.

    The laws of Leviticus are completely obsolete for today's Christian; however, even if you do claim to live by the laws of Leviticus, it is not fair to pick and choose which laws you are going to live by, or condemn a people by, if you are not going to follow the others. You should not need any more convincing evidence than this; but if you do, be my guest.

    b) The word that was in the original work, "to'ebah," which was translated into Greek as "bdglygma" actually means "ritual impurity" rather than abomination (or enormous sin). These passages in Leviticus can be translated to not mean homosexual sex generally, but only limiting homosexual sex in Pagan temples.

    c) This passage does not denounce homosexual behavior as a whole, but just the specific act of anal sex. This was meant for the prevention of disease. It was ruled unclean because it was physically unclean; however, hygiene has made wonderful advances since that time.

    d) These passages in Leviticus can be interpreted in many ways. I have seen it interpreted by scholars and priests to mean: "don't have sex with another man in your wife's bed;" "don't have sex with another man in the temple;" and "don't have sex with another man and pretend he is a woman," just to name a few.

    I have never seen an interpretation in any Bible, or from any scholar, that specifically says to never have sex with a man.

    Some claim the Bible simply does not support gay marriage. Chapter two of Genesis defines marriage as a holy union between a man and a woman. And later, in Matthew 19:4-5, Jesus himself reiterates the traits of a traditional marriage. How can you argue that anything other than celibacy is honorable for gay and lesbian people?

    Yes, marriage is a holy union. However, in these passages, while Jesus reiterates (but does not require) the traditional marriage, he also provides an exception for eunuchs (castrated men – or otherwise impotent men, in today's terms), and allowed them to be married, saying that this law is given to those to whom it applies.

    Because these eunuchs were born sexless, God made an exception for them because it was natural. The same applies to the Gay community today. Science has proven homosexuality is completely natural, so it seems God would allow for homosexual marriages.

    In Matthew 19: 4-5, Jesus encourages a traditional path, but does not discourage alternatives, except in the case of divorce.

    Jesus did stress purity of marriage, but not in regard to the sexes of the people within it. It can be seen that the reason that churches are against homosexual marriage is not because it is explicitly said by God, but because of a lack of instruction to specifically allow it.

    In the time that the Bible was written it would have been impossible to foresee the future to be able to specifically allow or forbid homosexual marriage.

    Some claim, in Paul's letter to the Corinthians, he lists homosexuals amongst the many sinners who will not inherit the kingdom of God. Doesn't that make God's position on this vice very clear?

    If we look at the other types of people listed in this passage, we can understand what it is actually talking about. Law breakers, thieves, adulterers and drunks are specifically mentioned. The word "homosexual" was not found until the 1890s, so it would have been impossible for it to be in the original version.

    What actually appears in the original is Paul condemning those who are "effeminate" and "abusers of themselves with mankind." In this context, the original Greek word, "malakos," is translated into effeminate, or soft, which, more than likely, refers to someone who lacks discipline or moral control.

    In this passage, when Paul condemns "abusers of themselves with mankind," he is speaking of male prostitutes.

    Then there are the people who claim that, even though science has proven that people don't choose their sexual orientation, the fact remains that homosexuality is unnatural. Romans 1:26-27 tells us that humans have a sinful nature, and therefore commit sins against God. Certain people are predisposed to be alcoholics and pedophiles, but that doesn't make their actions any less immoral. God tells us to "tear out your eye" if it makes you stumble. Why can't you just accept homosexuality as the part of your nature you must deny?

    Because the Bible has gone through so many translations, and through the hands of many people (some being non-believers), it is not surprising that the meaning has become a little fuzzy in parts.

    Homosexuality is normal. The phrase "para physin" appears in the original text for this verse. This term is often translated to mean "unnatural;" however, more accurate translation would be unconventional.

    Proof for this can be found in 1 Corinthians 11:14 where Paul uses this phrase to refer to men with long hair (unconventional, not unnatural) and in Romans 11:24 where Paul uses this phrase to refer to the positive action God made to bring together the Jews and Gentiles.

    All in all, homosexuality is obviously not a sin, unless you take passages from the Bible and add your own words or you just try really hard to interpret it that way. Let's just remember Galatians 5:14, where Paul stated, "the whole Law is fulfilled in one Statement, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'

    July 31, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Anthon

      Sorry, it is SIN the Bible said. ROMAN 1:26-28, 1 CORINTHIANS 6:9-10.

      July 31, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
  2. Jeannine

    The Scriptures were written approximately 2000 or more years ago when there was no knowledge of constitutional homosexuality. The Scripture writers believed that all people were naturally heterosexual so that they viewed homosexuality activity as unnatural. Women today are pointing out that the inferiority of women expressed in the scriptures was a product of culture and the times in which the Bible was written; it should not be followed today, now that we are beginning to appreciate the natural and God-given equality of men and women.

    Similarly, as we know that homosexuality is just as natural and God-given as heterosexuality, we realize that the Biblical injunctions against homosexuality were conditioned by the attitudes and beliefs about this form of sexual expression which were held by people without benefit of centuries of scientific knowledge and understanding.

    It is unfair of us to expect or impose a twentieth century mentality and understanding about equality of genders, races and sexual orientations on the Biblical writers. We must be able to distinguish the eternal truths the Bible is meant to convey from the cultural forms and attitudes expressed there.

    July 31, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
  3. Michael

    This one goes out to all you fundamentalist Christians out there. Selah! I may be too narrow addressing this to just the fundamentalists. Many traditional Christians also fit the bill. Really, it’s anyone who believes that homosexuality is a sin, and that somehow God, infinite and eternal creator and sustainer of the very Universe, is ‘against’ a tiny human behavior that harms no one. So, in other words, uneducated and ridiculous people everywhere.

    Officially, the majority of Christian churches say that homosexual behavior is a sin, thus proving that the theologians behind those churches don’t understand their own Bible. There are a whole bunch of goofball laws written down in the Old Testament that everyone ignores. Why is being bigoted toward homosexuals the one people latch onto?

    The various Christian brands go through the Old Testament, picking and choosing the parts they consider cool. No one accepts the whole thing. No one. I mean, when was the last time a cheating spouse was actually put to death in keeping with the commandments of the Bible?

    Using the Old Testament to determine if something is a sin is simply a matter of human and not godly opinion. It’s meaningless and certainly not ‘the word of God’. His teachings aren’t some basket of fruit for you to pick over. You either have to accept the old law in its entirety and start killing lots and lots of people or reject it in its entirety. Hand-picking the stuff you like is bogus, especially when you only pick the stuff that seems to legitimize your meanness to other people.

    So the Old Testament is out.

    Before we all start playing REM’s “Losing My Religion,” consider this denying someone the right to marry is not Christian, and certainly not American.

    The people who are opposed to gay marriage, and by extension, gayness itself have no excuse. They are bigots and bigots alone. They can’t use their special book to justify their hate, even according to the special book itself. They have no one to thank but themselves. They take the Lord’s name in vain and feel righteous about it

    Yes, they take the Lord’s name in vain. Most people believe incorrectly that this commandment is about cussing, but it’s not. It’s about using God for yourself, for your own vain (personal) ends. They hold the Bible in the air and use it like a bitch to bolster their own prejudices and bigotry and hate and that is vanity, all is vanity.

    The teachings of Christ are plain enough: love and forgiveness, tolerance and healing, acceptance and rebellion. Nothing more, nothing less. Nothing more needed. Add what you will to it, it still won’t be from the Christ. It will come from your own (black?) heart.

    Jesus Christ is the origin of the word ‘Christian’. Perhaps we should pray about that a bit more.

    Today’s Christians tend to be followers, accepting of the notion that religion is just a box built by someone else into which they must stuff their spirit. They are naive and willingly line up like lemmings wherever told. They have a casual ignorance that tells them the Beast will come in the obvious guise of science or secularism or liberality. They cannot conceive of the Father of Lies actually lying to them.

    Sinclair Lewis said that when fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying the cross. When the Beast comes to the world, you can bet your sweet ass he will be thumping the Bible and preaching a hate disguised as love.

    July 31, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
  4. just sayin

    We will rejoice the day this Christ-Tard dies

    July 31, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  5. Mohammed_Islam

    Dear Billy Graham, praise to The Almighty... you have been blessed with the age/time that you have been given.... and I pray to Almighty to give you more life time and keep you in good health so that you can represent the truth to the mankind with HIS mercy...

    I would like to share with you this verse from Quran:

    Al Quran Chapter 4: Verse 1
    O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women. And fear Allah, through whom you ask one another, and the wombs. Indeed Allah is ever, over you, an Observer.

    July 31, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Greg

      Blessings from the God of Abraham Issac and Jacob, I would like to add:

      The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man;
      Psalm 33:13

      "...acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.
      1 Chronicles 28:9

      July 31, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  6. JP

    Is homosexuality a sin?

    Self-indulgence is a sin. But the relationship of two people of the same sex may or may not be self-indulgent.

    Abusing the neighbor is a sin. But the exploration of relationships among homosexuals as they search for partners, evaluate their existing formative relationships, and relate to each other may or may not be abusive.

    Disobeying what God commands in the Bible is a sin. But, we have biblically-derived criteria for assessing and applying specific commands by reading them against larger themes.
    Turning your back on God is a sin. Homosexuals are often among those who have turned their back on the church, and may be sinning because they also rejected the God they found in church. The church needs to be in mission to homosexuals with the message of Jesus and who God really is.

    Yielding to your passions, even celebrating them is a sin. Homosexuals do include those who have done this. But it is not an inherent aspect of being gay.

    Since we see people who have dedicated themselves to God, and for whom their gay sexual life is integrated into that decision and we see that their sexuality does not draw them away from church we must conclude that being and living gay is not a behavior in and of itself that produces pain to the neighbor and leads one away from God.

    By the criteria the scripture sets for us for what is godly life, and by the reasoning scripture asks us to employ, homosexuality cannot be described as against God’s law.

    If this seems like a rather quiet sort of justification for homosexuality, then perhaps it is because the grand clichés of this debate have been shouted at us for too long. But look at the Bible: it's demands and vision cut across all categories, not staying on the surface but penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart, rejecting all forms of self-justification:all forms of attack on the "other" and all forms of escape from God's assessment of our behavior. How on earth could we have ever thought that a series of flat rules was all God wanted to tell us on morality?

    July 31, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • kindless

      This is my experience. Thank you.

      Atheism is good for children and all living things. Thank you.

      That Bible thing is way overrated, much less the commandments therewithin.

      July 31, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • Bob

      For a mental condition to be considered a disorder, it must either regularly cause subjective distress, or regularly be associated with some generalized impairment in social functioning. many h0m0 are quite satisfied with their orientation and demonstrate no generalized impairment in social effectiveness or functioning. The only way that h0m0 could therefore be considered a psy disorder would be the criteria of failure to function hetero, which is considered optimal in our society and by many of our members
      If h0m0 per se does not meet the criteria for a psy disorder, what is it? Descriptively, it is one form of se- behavior. Our profession need not now agree on its origin, significance, and value for human happiness when we acknowledge that by itself it does not meet the requirements for a psy disorder. Similarly, by no longer listing it as a psy disorder we are not saying that it is "normal" or as valuable as hetero. H0m0: Proposed Change in DSM-11, The APA So who is the liar right out of the DSM and exactly what was said. this will also apply to peds and other members that the apa cannot decide about either. So there was no research because what would you research this decision was a emotional decision based on pure emotions and not much if any scientific data.

      July 31, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Good to see they've extended your time without the ankle monitor, Bob.

      July 31, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Erik

      "The only way that h0m0 could therefore be considered a psy disorder would be the criteria of failure to function hetero, which is considered optimal in our society and by many of our members"

      That is not true at all. All major medical professional organizations concur that sexual orientation is not a choice and cannot be changed, from gay to straight or otherwise. The American, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and European Psychological, Psychiatric, and Medical Associations all agree with this, as does the World Health Organization and the medical organizations of Japan, China, and most recently, Thailand. Furthermore, attempts to change one's sexual orientation can be psychologically damaging, and cause great inner turmoil and depression, especially for Christian gays and lesbians.

      The scientific evidence of the innateness of homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgenderism is overwhelming, and more peer-reviewed studies which bolster this fact are being added all the time. Science has long regarded sexual orientation – and that's all sexual orientations, including heterosexuality – as a phenotype. Simply put, a phenotype is an observable set of properties that varies among individuals and is deeply rooted in biology. For the scientific community, the role of genetics in sexuality is about as "disputable" as the role of evolution in biology.

      On the second point, that there is no conclusion that there is a "gay gene," they are right. No so-called gay gene has been found, and it's highly unlikely that one ever will. This is where conservative Christians and Muslims quickly say "See, I told you so! There's no gay gene, so being gay is a choice!"

      The fact that a so-called "gay gene" has not been discovered does not mean that homosexuality is not genetic in its causation. This is understandably something that can seem a bit strange to those who have not been educated in fields of science and advanced biology, and it is also why people who are not scientists ought not try to explain the processes in simple black-and-white terms. There is no gay gene, but there is also no "height gene" or "skin tone gene" or "left-handed gene." These, like sexuality, have a heritable aspect, but no one dominant gene is responsible for them.

      Many genes, working in sync, contribute to the phenotype and therefore do have a role in sexual orientation. In many animal model systems, for example, the precise genes involved in sexual partner selection have been identified, and their neuro-biochemical pathways have been worked out in great detail. A great number of these mechanisms have been preserved evolutionarily in humans, just as they are for every other behavioral trait we know (including heterosexuality).

      There are many biologic traits which are not specifically genetic but are biologic nonetheless. These traits are rooted in hormonal influences, contributed especially during the early stages of fetal development. This too is indisputable and based on extensive peer-reviewed research the world over. Such prenatal hormonal influences are not genetic per se, but are inborn, natural, and biologic nevertheless.

      July 31, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "The APA So who is the liar right out of the DSM and exactly what was said. this will also apply to peds and other members that the apa cannot decide about either. "

      This is a lie it's not just about the APA stating the truth about gays. Duh! The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured."

      July 31, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
  7. YeahRight

    "The gays were taken off the dsm not with any real studies and the first amendment gives all religious freedom and guarantees it, it does not guarantee gays rights only the right to express a opinion."

    Still spewing your lies Bob, which is why anything you write shouldn't be taken seriously. Heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured."

    July 31, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  8. Janet

    "The Bible does condemn gay behavior without reserve."

    The Biblical condemnation of homosexuality is based on human ignorance, suspicion of those who are different, and an overwhelming concern for ensuring the survival of the people. Since the Bible regards homosexuality as a capital crime, it clearly assumes that homosexuality is a matter of free choice, a deliberate rebellion against God. We have learned from modern science that people do not choose to be gay or straight; hence it is neither logical nor moral to condemn those whose nature it is to be gay or lesbian.

    July 31, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Bob

      If you want to be logical or reason then make your own religion and follow it the Bible clearly states gay behavior is immoral and detestable in Gods view. The bible is about what God says not about what is logical or reasonable. In fact when God says I will take the foolish things of the world to confound the wise that is not logical or reasonable yet that is God. The cause of some gay behavior is indeed choice some they are not sure of. Some of it is induced by trauma such as moestation and child abuse, these Traumatic events in a persons life can cause h0m0 behavior.

      July 31, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "If you want to be logical or reason then make your own religion and follow it the Bible clearly states gay behavior is immoral and detestable in Gods view."

      Bob doesn't understand the basics of reading comprehension 101 by putting the scriptures into historical context. His prejudice and bigotry toward the gay community has clouded his ability to see the real truth in the scriptures. Heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured."

      July 31, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  9. John

    Some argue that since homosexual behavior is "unnatural" it is contrary to the order of creation. Behind this pronouncement are stereotypical definitions of masculinity and femininity that reflect rigid gender categories of patriarchal society. There is nothing unnatural about any shared love, even between two of the same gender, if that experience calls both partners to a fuller state of being. Contemporary research is uncovering new facts that are producing a rising conviction that homosexuality, far from being a sickness, sin, perversion or unnatural act, is a healthy, natural and affirming form of human sexuality for some people. Findings indicate that homosexuality is a given fact in the nature of a significant portion of people, and that it is unchangeable.

    Our prejudice rejects people or things outside our understanding. But the God of creation speaks and declares, "I have looked out on everything I have made and `behold it (is) very good'." . The word (Genesis 1:31) of God in Christ says that we are loved, valued, redeemed, and counted as precious no matter how we might be valued by a prejudiced world.

    There are few biblical references to homosexuality. The first, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, is often quoted to prove that the Bible condemns homosexuality. But the real sin of Sodom was the unwillingness of the city's men to observe the laws of hospitality. The intention was to insult the stranger by forcing him to take the female role in the sex act. The biblical narrative approves Lot's offer of his virgin daughters to satisfy the sexual demands of the mob. How many would say, "This is the word of the Lord"? When the Bible is quoted literally, it might be well for the one quoting to read the text in its entirety.

    Leviticus, in the Hebrew Scriptures, condemns homosexual behaviour, at least for males. Yet, "abomination", the word Leviticus uses to describe homosexuality, is the same word used to describe a menstruating woman. Paul is the most quoted source in the battle to condemn homosexuality ( 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11 and Romans 1: 26-27). But homosexual activity was regarded by Paul as a punishment visited upon idolaters by God because of their unfaithfulness. Homosexuality was not the sin but the punishment.

    1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Paul gave a list of those who would not inherit the Kingdom of God. That list included the immoral, idolaters, adulterers, sexual perverts, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, and robbers. Sexual perverts is a translation of two words; it is possible that the juxtaposition of malakos, the soft, effeminate word, with arsenokoitus, or male prostitute, was meant to refer to the passive and active males in a homosexual liaison.

    Thus, it appears that Paul would not approve of homosexual behavior. But was Paul's opinion about homosexuality accurate, or was it limited by the lack of scientific knowledge in his day and infected by prejudice born of ignorance? An examination of some of Paul's other assumptions and conclusions will help answer this question. Who today would share Paul's anti-Semitic attitude, his belief that the authority of the state was not to be challenged, or that all women ought to be veiled? In these attitudes Paul's thinking has been challenged and transcended even by the church! Is Paul's commentary on homosexuality more absolute than some of his other antiquated, culturally conditioned ideas?

    Three other references in the New Testament (in Timothy, Jude and 2 Peter) appear to be limited to condemnation of male sex slaves in the first instance, and to showing examples (Sodom and Gomorrah) of God's destruction of unbelievers and heretics (in Jude and 2 Peter respectively).

    That is all that Scripture has to say about homosexuality. Even if one is a biblical literalist; these references do not build an ironclad case for condemnation. If one is not a biblical literalist there is no case at all; nothing but prejudice born of ignorance, that attacks people whose only crime is to be born with an unchangeable sexual predisposition toward those of their own sex.

    July 31, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • Mohammed_Islam

      Dear John,
      Just thought to share with you something with you from Bible... Paul also wrote in Romans 1 verse 25 as below:

      25 For they exchanged the truth of God for [p]a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed [q]forever. Amen.

      How do you take this verse where Paul is saying here not to worship any creatures and people are worshiping Jesus where he is also part of this creation???

      Peace!!!

      July 31, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      M-Islam, there is a move in today's Christendom where the writings of apostle Paul are denied. This is the apostate church, the harlot church, which clings to the Name of Yeshua – Christ Jesus, but denies the Spirit of God who testifies of Him. This harlot church will have NO PART of the Kingdom of God!

      July 31, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • Greg

      Truth about Jesus the Christ,

      from the Gospel John chapter 1:
      In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

      This very Jesus that came to earth to be the once and for all sacrifice for mankind, to give mankind a right relationship again with The Holy God who also created everything seen and unseen. He is God made flesh. He has been given the name above all names and one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess he is Lord.
      In Love

      July 31, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Mohammed_Islam

      To Greg....
      Please read genesis where there is no where it is mentioned that there was another partner with the Lord God... don't you think if what you are saying is correct than it will be mentioned in the OT... or OT and NT are contradicting each other... i could show more from the bible itself... i think most of the follower of it does not pay attention what to follow... they just follow blindly as Catholic church does not allow to have a copy of bible with the worshipper while they are at the church... they just have to be listening to the preacher.... and i guess no one even think of going there and checking if theyr are being taught correct... as i have learned from one of my friends' catholic wife....
      Peace!!!

      July 31, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • Greg

      The Triune God head is evident from the beginning...
      Genesis 1:26
      Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
      In Love

      August 1, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • Mohammed_Islam

      We all know that Adam is the first human created by The Almighty and then The Almighty taught Adam the names and everything he needed to know and then HE created his partner from him and then rest of us created from the mixing of sperm and ovam except Jesus who created from only mother who was virgin and this is sign for mankind that God can create anything, also the creation of Jesus is like the creation of Adam... how does it turns to what u saying dear brother Greg....

      Peace!!!

      August 1, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • Greg

      Thank you for responding,
      “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” – “us”& “our” are the 1st clue that The Holy God is manifest in more than one form. I do not think we have a disagreement on God’s Spirit being separate from Him and at the same time being Him. He(the Spirit of God) is mentioned many times throughout the Tanakh(Old Testament). The disagreement is on Jesus the Christ being The Lord God and the same as The Holy God.

      The Aleph Tav אֵת(the first and the last, the beginning and the end) is also mentioned throughout the Tanakh and this is a direct reference to The Lord God. From the beginning in the garden The Lord God walked with man(Gen 3:8), he taught Adam his first job(Gen 2:15) and these things were done in the flesh(they are physical). Thus we have God made flesh. David made reference to the The Lord being unique from The Holy God in Psalm 110:1 when he said “The Lord says my Lord: Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool” and that is were The Lord God Yahshua(Jesus) is today. As The Holy God’s planned unfolded and the mystery was revealed, The Lord God was given the name above all names Yahshua(Jesus) by the head of the Godhead The Father God. Yahshua(Jesus) was born into this world of sin to be the once and for all sacrifice for sin(Leviticus 17:11). The Holy God sent Himself to die for sin, that is how much He loves us and desires for a right relationship with us.

      Jesus the Christ was much more than a prophet and is fully God and was fully man. It is not possible to call Him a prophet and not recognize His deity, He claimed to be God, “I and the Father are one.”(John 10:30). He can not be a prophet of The Holy God if he is a liar. But do not worry He is not a liar; He is the light of the world and whoever follows Him will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.(John 8:12)

      In Love

      August 1, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  10. Alice

    In response to Susan.. thank you.
    Very well spoken.

    July 31, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  11. Bob

    1 Is being gay a sin, yes, bullying is also a sin but does God love both of them? Yes. Does God want either to continue in sin? No.
    2 Jesus loves all and wishes all to come to salvation
    3 The Bible does condemn gay behavior without reserve. It is against Gods plan that man should be joined to his wife and that they both should be fruitful and multiply. He joined them man and woman, woman so named because she was made from Adams rib. The natural desire is husband for wife and wife for husband God made those desires in us.
    4 God does not hate gays we are all sinners but God is holy and nothing holy can be in His presence. We are cleansed by the Blood of Jesus and if we keep sinning then there is no forgiveness of sin.
    5 The Episcopal Church is in error and to use it in the idea that if one church approves it it is ok is most egregious. Know what’s in your Bible and don’t let anyone or church lead you astray. The Bible says it’s the blind leading the blind and they will both fall into the pit. It also says that in the last days men won’t endure sound teaching and want to tickle their own ears with strange teachings.
    6 If you are in error and there is blatant sin in your life you are not to be a leader in any church. Sin clouds thought and makes the bad seem good. How can you be a teacher when there is a besetting sin in your life and a personality bent to that? All decisions will be favored to that error
    7 NO gay marriages should take place in any church.
    8 Sin is sin there are many causes, I would never try to indulge a sin which being gay is a sin but marriage and gay relations is furthering that sin. As for choice in some cases it is a choice
    9 yes pray and ask God what the root is
    10 The US is a Republic not a Democracy and therefore not without the majority rule. The gays were taken off the dsm not with any real studies and the first amendment gives all religious freedom and guarantees it, it does not guarantee gays rights only the right to express a opinion.

    July 31, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "6 If you are in error and there is blatant sin in your life you are not to be a leader in any church. Sin clouds thought and makes the bad seem good. How can you be a teacher when there is a besetting sin in your life and a personality bent to that? All decisions will be favored to that error"

      This is coming from a poster who's been proven a LIAR over and over again on this blog. He can't even follow one of the basic ten commandments. His posts are filed with hate and prejudice so don't bother taking anything this moron posts seriously. Heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured."

      July 31, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  12. Susan

    1. Is being gay a sin?

    No. Sins are acts that separate us from God and keep us from loving our neighbors as ourselves. Being gay is not a sin. Bullying is a sin. Being hateful to other people is a sin. Putting yourself in the place of God to judge others is a sin. Being gay is not.

    2. What did Jesus say about gay people?

    Jesus said the same thing about gay people as he said about all people: God loves you beyond your wildest imagining and calls you to walk in love with God and with each other. He also said a whole lot about loving your neighbor, welcoming the stranger, embracing the outcast and ministering to the marginalized.

    3. Does the Bible really condemn homosexuality?

    The short answer is no; no it does not. The handful of passages in the Old and New Testaments that talk about God condemning specific sexual acts have nothing whatsoever to do with sexual orientation and everything to do with contexts such as cultic prostitution or gang rape. To put it another way, using the Bible as a handbook on human sexuality makes as much sense as using it as a handbook on astronomy. Just as those who wrote the Biblical texts had no concept of the science that would prove the earth actually revolves around the sun, so they had no concept of homosexuality (which wasn't defined until the 19th century.)

    4. How do I respond when people say "God hates "f–s"?

    First of all, God's nature is to love, not to hate. We believe that what God cares about is not our sexual orientation but our theological orientation - and that the question that matters is not "who do you love?" but "do you love?" Recognizing that homophobia causes some folks to project onto God their own fears, prejudices and biases against LGBT people, sometimes the best response is simply no response. It can be a challenge, but getting triggered by hate-mongers prevents us from being the change we want to see.

    5. I thought gay men and women weren't allowed to be priests?

    The Episcopal Church has been ordaining women to the priesthood since 1974 and we have women deacons, priests and bishops throughout the church - including two women bishops here in the Diocese of Los Angeles. When it comes to gay men in the priesthood, the issue is not homosexuality - it is honesty. The church has ordained gay men for centuries but finally the Episcopal Church added "sexual orientation" in the non-discrimination list in 1994 - ending our version of "don't ask/don't tell." Because the Episcopal Church allows for diversity of practice, the leadership of "out" LGBT and women clergy is more prevalent in some places than others. But the Diocese of Los Angeles is proud to have been in the forefront of inclusion.

    6. Can I still receive Communion in your church if I am gay?

    Of course you can. In many of our churches you will hear a variation on the invitation "whoever you are and wherever you find yourself on the journey of faith there is a place for you here." God's love is radically inclusive and so is the Episcopal Church.

    7. Despite what is happening legislatively, can my partner and I be married in the Episcopal Church yet?

    The only accurate answer to this question is "that depends." It depends on which diocese you're in and whether you're in a state that has civil marriage equality. For example, New York State is a marriage equality state. In four of the six dioceses clergy can both solemnize and bless a civil marriage and in one of them clergy can bless but not solemnize (a judge or justice of the peace has to do the civil marriage part). Here in Los Angeles clergy both blessed and solemnized same-sex marriages in 2008 when it was legal and our bishops have been in the forefront of working to overturn Prop 8 and get marriage equality back. As Facebook might put it: "it's complicated."

    8. What do I tell people when they say being gay is a sin and a choice?

    Tell them that Jesus said absolutely nothing about being gay but he said a lot of things about judging other people. Then tell them that while there is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation there IS consensus that sexuality is a continuum. So the "choice" is not to be gay, straight or somewhere in between - the "choice" is to build our own healthy relationships ... and give other people the grace to build theirs.

    9. Should I try to "pray away the gay?"

    No. If you need to pray away something, pray away homophobia. Homosexuality doesn't need healing. Homophobia does.

    10. How do I respond when politicians condemn my sexuality, citing their belief in the Bible?

    Remind them that the First Amendment protects them in believing whatever they want to about what God does or does not bless but it also prohibits them from using those beliefs to decide who the Constitution protects or doesn't protect. Tell them to stop confusing their theology with our democracy. And then campaign for and donate to their opponent in the next election cycle.

    July 31, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • Darlene Hope

      Oh my God who is answering these questions! Are you kidding me you will send people to HELL on an express plane.

      July 31, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Robert

      "Are you kidding me you will send people to HELL on an express plane."

      No they won't but you're going to hell with your hate.

      July 31, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • tim

      I dont know what bible you reading from but mine says a man sleeps with a man he should be killed. now.....am I a christian? I sure am....Do I believe christians have it wrong when they want to use the bible literally? yes I do...I believe you should use the bible as a guide or reference,,, not a play by play book on what you should do

      July 31, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • Bob

      Tim really a shame that you think the Bible is only a reference book and dont look at it as to finding out who God is and what He likes and dislikes. It also has many laws in it that are still in effect today so I guess the blessings and curses are not really important either.

      July 31, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Lisa

      Pray for Susan.

      July 31, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      "No they won't but you're going to hell with your hate"

      The one who is showing the hate is YOU. Speaking the truth and warning people of error that damns their souls is not hate. But when y o u hate the truth, your own hate shows up in every word you throw in accusation at those who speak it to you.
      But God's people are not ignorant of cheap scapegoat – tactics of satan and his bond-servants! God gives us insight beyond all facades and pretense of those who duck hiding behind them!

      July 31, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • Robert

      "The one who is showing the hate is YOU. Speaking the truth and warning people of error that damns their souls is not hate. But when y o u hate the truth, your own hate shows up in every word you throw in accusation at those who speak it to you."

      That sentence is filled with to dislike intensely or passionately; feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward; detest. That is hate, only a blinded fool of prejudice would make such a statement. The one who is filled with hate is YOU!

      July 31, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Has it ever occurred to you that God's word is what matters and not yours? Unless you align yourself with His Word, your opinion is worth less than dimeadozen! That pretty much settles it!

      July 31, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • Robert

      "Unless you align yourself with His Word, your opinion is worth less than dimeadozen! That pretty much settles it!"

      I have and I believe gay people are God's creation based on the evidence and therefore do not fit any of the definitions of sin that are presented by prejudice Christians such as you.. Christ was about love and based on your posts you haven't learned even that simple lesson..

      July 31, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      This debate is not about God's creation. It's about sinful mankind that wants to drag the truth of God and His word into the mud, making Him out to be who He is not.
      Christ Jesus is LORD. He is the God of love AND God of consuming fire: saviour, friend, counselor and healer to those who come to Him with humble and contrite hearts, but to those who, because of love of sin that's in their hearts, refuse to acknowledge His Word and make up god of their own imaginations.... to them He will be The Fierce and Dreaded JUDGE!
      When Yeshua, Jesus Christ comes again, He will not come as a suffering saviour, but as a MIGHTY Warrior, who will slay the wicked by the sword of His mouth.
      Yes, you can quote me on this: The Word of God is THE SWORD OF THE LORD!
      And all the fools who mock Him and amuse themselves in doing so, will find out. As for hate you say that I preach.... well, friend, if I preach it, I'm in good company. So did the prophets and saints of old! And they did to them the same as the world does to us, who speak His Word today!
      Be careful that you find yourself being on wrong side and in the wrong camp! Many warnings is there written in God 's word, if you would be wise and care to know! See how many times HE says, "take heed to yourself!"Because it would be better for you never to have known the Name of Jesus Christ ,and to make Him out to be according to imagination of your own heart!

      July 31, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
  13. 2cents

    The NAACP has passed a resolution endorsing same-sex marriage as a civil right, putting it stamp on an issue that has divided the black community.

    The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's board voted at a leadership retreat in Miami on Saturday to back a resolution supporting marriage equality, calling the position consistent with the equal protection provision of the US constitution.

    "The mission of the NAACP has always been to ensure political, social and economic equality of all people," board chairwoman Roslyn M Brock said in a statement. "We have and will oppose efforts to codify discrimination into law."

    Same-sex marriage is legal in six states and the District of Columbia, but 31 states have passed amendments to ban it.

    The NAACP vote came about two weeks after President Barack Obama announced his support for gay marriage, setting off a flurry of political activity in a number of states. Obama's announcement followed vice-president Joe Biden's declaration in a television interview that he was "absolutely comfortable" with gay couples marrying.

    "Civil marriage is a civil right and a matter of civil law. The NAACP's support for marriage equality is deeply rooted in the fourteenth amendment of the United States constitution and equal protection of all people" said NAACP president Benjamin Todd Jealous, a strong backer of gay rights.

    Gay marriage has divided the black community, with many religious leaders opposing it. In California, exit polls showed about 70% of black people opposed same-sex marriage in 2008. In Maryland, black religious leaders helped derail a gay marriage bill last year. But state lawmakers passed a gay marriage bill this year.

    Pew Research Center polls have found that African Americans have become more supportive of same-sex marriage in recent years, but remain less supportive than other groups. A poll conducted in April showed 39% of African-Americans favor gay marriage, compared with 47% of white people. The poll showed 49% of black people and 43% of white people are opposed.

    The Human Rights Campaign, a leading gay rights advocacy group, applauded the NAACP's step.

    "We could not be more pleased with the NAACP's history-making vote – which is yet another example of the traction marriage equality continues to gain in every community," HRC president Joe Solmonese said in a statement.

    July 31, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  14. TheVeteran

    What Billy Graham should have a problem with is a religious sect (LDS/Mormon–the foundation of Chic Fil A's positions), that believes that they can become a god when they die. That they can achieve god status through hard work, and rule over their own world when they die. That is following in the ways of Satan. No angel, or person can become God. That should be blasphemy. But what do we hear from religious teachers? Silence.

    July 31, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • Dyslexic Dog

      TheVeteran: THANK YOU for bringing that up. I am amazed at the silence from christians about a cultist running for republican office. The only answer is that christians must be republicans first and christians second!

      July 31, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Greg

      Rev. Robert Jeffress, views Mormonism, the faith of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, as a "cult" and publicly said so on "Hardball With Chris Matthews".

      July 31, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  15. Jesus was a hunchback

    God despises these Christian bigots.

    July 31, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • Bob

      Problem is you wouldn't know one if you had seen one.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • Greg

      How do you know the mind of God?

      July 31, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      @Greg
      God's people know the mind of God by His Word and by His Spirit who testifies of His Word, and reveals the mind of God to those who are His.

      July 31, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
  16. sleepytime

    "Yet the farther we get from God, the more the world spirals out of control"

    Really, Billy? If that's true, how do you explain the fact that the most secular countries in the world also tend to be the most peaceful?

    July 31, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • TheVeteran

      He can't. Because he, like many other preachers, are caught up into religion, and not Faith. Even though they claim Faith.

      July 31, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • Greg

      What countries are you speaking of? What is your definition of peace? Is it peaceful to starve to death?

      July 31, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  17. Michael

    Billy Graham has been discredited multiple times as a soapbox opportunist and in the 60's as a racist. He is just another televangelist out to make money.

    July 31, 2012 at 8:38 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      @Michael
      Who discredited him? People who hate him because of what he preached? Jesus said that those who speak in His Name would be hated and all sorts of evil will be spoken against them...because they do the works of THEIR father , the devil. It is our conscience before God that matters, not before evil men!

      July 31, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      @Michael
      Who discredited him? People who hate him because of what he preached? Jesus said that those who speak in His Name would be hated and all sorts of evil will be spoken against them..Those wh hate them, hate them because they do the works of THEIR father , the devil. It is our conscience before God that matters, not before evil men!

      July 31, 2012 at 9:09 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      Although I do admit that I am evil and prefer worshipping Satan to god!

      July 31, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      "PRISM 1234

      Although I do admit that I am evil and prefer worshipping Satan to god!"

      You're not PRISM, you're yellow bellied coward hiding behind other people's names! LOL! Go lick the dust, buster!

      July 31, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
  18. Mark

    Billy Graham......................a modern day apostle; a man of diginity, character, and a true man of God.

    July 31, 2012 at 6:33 am |
    • Dyslexic Dog

      LOLOLOLOLOLOL .... good one. Thanks.

      July 31, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  19. office moving company

    Hey There. I found your weblog using msn. This is a very neatly written article. I will make sure to bookmark it and come back to learn extra of your useful information. Thank you for the post. I will definitely return.

    July 31, 2012 at 5:09 am |
  20. kevininjc

    I learned long ago that bigots use religion to mask their own bigotry. It seems to me that it's one of the remaining bastions of hate that that some still love to protect and defend. Just curious on his personal view of racially and/or religiously mixed marriages.

    July 31, 2012 at 3:23 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.