Wandering the savage garden…

May 2017Monthly Archives

Response to an Open Letter to Franklin Graham

Someone posted An Open Letter to Rev. Franklin Graham on Facebook, expecting it to be controversial (it came with a warning!) and I read it with interest. I commented on the letter itself, but I wanted to preserve it here just in case it got moderated away for some reason (I don’t expect it to be, but still, it’s my thought and I wanted to keep it. Plus, I wanted to be able to edit it to add some relevant information that I didn’t include when I wrote my original comment.)

It was an interesting letter, but it missed the mark on a few things.

For one thing, the sarcasm was appreciated by, well, me – because I love sarcasm, and I say that without sarcasm – but it’s directed at a man who publicly supported Trump. Sarcasm is not only wasted on such people, in my opinion, but it actually occludes the point; they don’t recognize it.

I thought this sentence was well done: “We just preach the good news of Jesus Christ; love one another the best we can (which sometimes isn’t very well); feed the hungry that come to our doors; care for the sick; comfort the dying; and bury the dead.” But… it ended up diminishing the role of the “good news” (the freaking Gospel, our whole mission and the point of everything for Christians) and emphasizing service. I know evangelical Christians who’ve forgotten how to help the needy, and I know people who call themselves Christians because all they do is help the needy. Between the two of them, as I understand the New Testament, the former are wayward Christians and the latter are just wayward.

See Matthew 7:21-23, using the HCSB for once:

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ 23 Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!’”

The loss of religious freedom is a fundamental point, and it’s where the pastor goes most astray. It’s not a loss of religious freedom to refuse to bake a cake for someone, but it’s also not discrimination to refuse to bake a cake, in the legal sense. That’s not a loss of religious freedom, it’s a loss of personal freedom, which is a much deeper issue; Rev. Graham is conflating the two, and in error… and Peter (the author of the letter) is mistaking civil liberty for a mandate to help the needy.

Funny thing: when I was married, we had a cake. But if we didn’t have one, I’d still be married. Having the cake was nice, it was traditional, I guess, but did I need it? Were my needs met by having a cake? No, they weren’t, apart from an abstract desire to have my wife’s wishes for traditionalism fulfilled.

So is denying someone a cake the same as denying them food? No, it’s not, and the President at the time of the most well-known cases of this nature asserted the same thing, by saying that we needed to feed our children something other than cheap slop in our schools. A wedding cake is a poor choice for the hungry; they’d be better off with chicken noodle soup or something like that. When the hungry come in demanding wedding cake, the reasonable response is not “sure, have a $200 cake” but “Hey, let me spend $12 on a bunch of soup cans and feed you for a week.”

On Trump… I agree. I do not understand how evangelical Christians can support Trump actively; I can understand that they might support Trump in opposition to Mrs. Clinton, but that’s reactive and not active; that’s “any other port in a storm,” and not “preference for the port with a whirlpool in it.”