Franklin Graham triggered a wave of backlash last week when he called on South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, to repent for being gay.
Buttigieg, a member of the Episcopal Church, announced that he is gay in 2015, more than three years after becoming mayor of South Bend. Buttigieg is married to Chasten.
What did Graham say?
In a message posted to Facebook on Saturday, Graham acknowledged the controversy that his message to Buttigieg generated.
While explaining the nuances of "repentance" and "sin," Graham used the opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the world, explaining how, according to Jesus, every human is sinfully guilty before God, yet can be reconciled to God through faith in Jesus.
It is important to understand what "repentance" and "sin" mean. Sin is anything we do that is against God's commands. The Bible says that we are all guilty of sin—every person. God has put the entire human race under a death sentence because of man's sins. But God loves us and has provided a way of escape. He sent His Son Jesus Christ to earth to take our sins to the cross. He took our punishment on Himself, died on the cross, was buried, and by the power of Almighty God was raised to life on the third day.
Whether you're the mayor of South Bend, the president of the United States Donald J. Trump, Franklin Graham, or anyone else—it doesn't matter who you are or what you have done—we're all guilty and need God's forgiveness. God is willing to forgive our sins if we will repent (turn from those sins, leave them, go the other direction). If we turn our back on Jesus Christ and such a wonderful salvation, and continue to live in our sins and don't repent, God will have no choice but to condemn us to an eternity separated from Him at the judgment.
Graham continued: "My prayer for you reading this is that you will make the decision today to turn away from your sins, ask for God's forgiveness, and put your faith in His Son, Jesus Christ."
"I'm not condemning anyone, I'm not the judge, I don't make the rules—God does. And His rules are spelled out clearly in His Word, the Bible," he wrote. "It's up to each person to decide for themselves what their response to a loving God will be."
What is the background?
In a series of tweets last week, Graham called on Buttigieg — who has used his faith to attack Vice President Mike Pence and somewhat reshape orthodox Christian teaching to conform to the progressive political agenda — to repent of homosexuality, an act the New Testament refers to as "porneia."
"Porneia" is the Greek word used by New Testament writers, namely the Apostle Paul, that refers to sexual acts outside of God's design.
Although Buttigieg did not respond to Graham directly, Buttigieg has rebuked critics in the past, especially those who believe homosexuality does not align with the teachings of Jesus.
"That if you've got a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me. Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator," he said earlier this month, a message directed at Pence.