Dear Mr. Graham,
Asking presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg to repent being gay is like asking you to repent breathing. You do not choose to breathe. Gay people do not choose to be gay. Both are endowments by the Creator.
Maimonides, the great Torah scholar of the Middle Ages, compiled a list of commandments from the Old Testament. There are 613. A few deal with homosexuality. Trotting out these few passages invites a biblical pissing contest that is neither helpful nor unifying for the body of Christ.
To argue that you take the Bible literally does not hold water. When was the last time you admonished someone for gossiping (Lev. 19:6)? What do you do with people in your community who have tattoos (Lev. 19:28)? When was the last time you told women they could not wear slacks because women should not dress as men (Deut. 22:5)? You may also need to discard some of your clothing since the mixing of linen and wool is forbidden (Deut. 22:11).
And let’s not forget the Big Ten (included in the 613). I find it curious that the current occupant of the white house has broken at least four of the Ten Commandments and you seem to have no problem whatsoever with this.
In the New Testament there are 1,050 commandments that are roughly divided into 800 headings. A very few deal with homosexual behavior. You may remember Jesus (he is big in the Christian tradition). In his ministry he never said a word about homosexuality. Not. One. Word. Zero. Nada. Zilch, Zip.
With 613 commandments in the Old Testament and 1,050 in the New Testament, it seems to me you have better things to do than focus on a few verses out of context as a way to marginalize people. It is so not like Jesus. I have been a pastor, preacher and teacher for forty years. I expect more from you than petty proof texting.
Jesus’ harshest words were reserved for those who made their living off the backs of the poor, those who lived far beyond the means of the majority of people and those who colluded with the Roman occupation. I imagine these topics are a little close to home. Your net worth of 28 million dollars, your annual salary of over a million dollars, your private jet and other “perks” of the job do not square well with Jesus’ teachings about wealth and poverty.
You may recall the original biblical languages, Hebrew and Greek. They are rich sources for exegetical work when doing Bible study. Further, studying the heilsgeschichte of the time is crucial for faithful interpretation. You should have learned the word in seminary, but in case you didn’t it means “the situation,” “what was going on at the time,” or “how God was working in the lives of people during that time.” This may come as a shock to you, but you are capable of failing (Gal. 6:1). So am I, I mean to suggest nothing other. However, the Jesus I try to fashion my life after loved everyone, turned no one away, welcomed all people and gave hope to those who were downtrodden.
There are few populations more downtrodden that the GLBTQI community. Harassment, violence, discrimination, rejection and religious judgement are the daily fare for many. For teens, rejection by their parents (citing religious teaching) contributes to the skyrocketing rate of suicide. Mr. Graham, your job is to give hope not take it away.
We are, all of us, instruments of salvation history. Our work is judged by whether we have furthered the love and grace of God in Christ or driven people away because they do not fit our definition of what it means to be “Christian.”
I hope one day you discover someone you love is gay. At that moment your dogma will collide with your love. I sincerely hope that love wins. In the Jesus Christ whom I meet in Scripture, the last word is always “love.”