What We Can Learn from a Feminist and Franklin Graham

What do feminists and Franklin Graham have in common? At least one feminist shares Rev. Graham’s concern for Islam’s oppressive treatment of women, and even applauds his strong stance on the issue, a position that yielded his being disinvited to the Pentagon for the National Day of Prayer Service today. ACT! for America member and feminist Danielle Avel wrote a commentary about Graham and Islam on Andrew Breitbart’s “Big Government” website, saying:

“Graham may have been silenced by Islamic apologists at the Pentagon but he did not lose his public forum because he is “attacking Islam” — he lost his forum simply because he is telling the truth about Islam.”

Avel and Graham share a like concern for the women in Islam. But they couldn’t be more different in other ways. While Rev. Graham, son of legendary evangelist Billy Graham, is a conservative Christian who views homosexuality through the lens of Scripture, Avel views it through the eyes of a gay woman.

In an interview with Christianity Today in December 2008, Graham said, “Any type of sexual relations outside of marriage between a man and a woman is a sin against God.” Yet this stance does not keep him from serving all people, regardless of their decisions and actions, just as he has proven to serve Muslims around the world for years even though he disagrees with their teachings about women, salvation through Jesus Christ, and many other issues.

In Avel’s commentary, she wrote, “As a gay woman in particular, I do not share many similar views with Evangelical Rev. Franklin Graham, yet I still admire him for speaking the truth about an oppression that in varying degrees affects hundreds of millions of women throughout the world.” Although Avel does not agree with Graham, she can admire him and even support him in areas of shared concern.

ACT! for America sent Avel’s commentary to their email subscription list today. The email opener included these words about Avel: “She is part of the diverse and growing movement that is ACT! for America which spans the political and philosophical spectrum in this country. We have set aside our differences on other issues in order to unite against the threat of radical Islam and global jihad.”

We need more “setting aside” of differences in order to unite in areas of agreement. A few ACT! for America email recipients today will no doubt consider removing their support from ACT due to ACT’s acknowledgement and partnership with a gay American. If any do, it will do nothing to help our country or the women around the world who are suffering.

Too many are separating from one another because of disagreement. Yet if truth be told, none of us agree with any other person 100% of the time. Husbands and wives disagree. Pastors and congregants disagree. Biblical scholars disagree. But if we are to influence our world for the better, we must disagree respectfully, and agree resoundingly. Christians, especially, must do so.

Last winter marked another set of divisions, when 152 Christian leaders from the Catholic, Orthodox and Evangelical traditions drew a line in the sand with the U.S. Government when they signed a 4700-word document entitled “The Manhattan Declaration”, and presented this at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on Friday, November 20. It affirmed these three basic truths:

1. the sanctity of human life

2. the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife

3. the rights of conscience and religious liberty.

This separation led to another. As fundamental as the three Manhattan Declaration elements are to the Christian faith, some evangelicals chose to detach themselves from this proclamation, and not in quiet fashion. The most prevalent reason given has been theological differences. Most who formally denounce the document do not disagree with the three affirmations, which are the issues at hand. They disagree with the theological beliefs and practices of some who signed. Their disagreement with some of the signers and subsequent refusal to add their signature has done nothing to help our country, and instead may have done something to hinder it.

Differences divide, and division of anything reduces potency. Of course we must stand for the truth of God’s Word, and in doing so, division will naturally occur, just as Jesus told us it would (Luke 12:51). But our separating in some arenas does not prevent us from coming together in others. We would do our society well by loving one another as He commanded, and uniting whenever possible on our issues of agreement in order to magnify our influence for good in the world.

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! Psalms 133:1

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