Franklin Graham’s strange inconsistency on teen sexual sin

Either your sexual behavior as a teenager matters or it doesn’t.

After myriad messages from the sexual purity movement telling teens not to practice pre-marital sex, we now hear that Franklin Graham thinks your behavior as a teenager isn’t relevant to your character in adulthood.

Commenting on the recent allegations of sexual assault made against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh when he was a teenager, Mr Graham said,

“There’s a lot of things that I’ve done when I was a teenager that I certainly am ashamed of and not proud of. People are up in arms over this like ‘oh, this is such a disaster.’ You’re talking about two teenagers 40 years ago. That has nothing to do with what we’re talking about today about this man being a judge on the Supreme court.”

Remember, Franklin Graham also defended Judge Roy Moore, a man accused of sexual misconduct against nine women when they were teenagers, by saying he was “a courageous man… willing to stand for God’s moral laws.”

And this is the same Franklin Graham whose own denomination founded True Love Waits, a ministry for promoting sexual abstinence outside of marriage for teenagers and college students. TLW is sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources.

TLW tells teens that if they signed an abstinence pledge and followed the biblical model of remaining a virgin until marriage, their sex lives would be better and their marriages would be stronger. And God would be pleased.

Unfortunately, like many purity programs, TLW exaggerates the consequences of losing your virginity. They preach that when you have sex you’re “giving away part of yourself” and to do so is injurious to your body and soul.

In the worst cases, they can give an all-is-lost message about pre-marital sex.

So how come we can preach to teens and pre-teens that your sexual behavior in adolescence can screw up your future marriage and maybe even damage your soul, but sexually assaulting a girl when you’re 17 isn’t a stain on your character in later life?


For Franklin Graham to suggest the accusation against Brett Kavanaugh is simply “not relevant” is deeply concerning.

In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Mr Graham said, “It’s just a shame that a person like Judge Kavanaugh who has a stellar record — that somebody can bring something up that he did when he was a teenager close to 40 years ago.”

I don’t agree.

And in saying that I’m not suggesting that your actions as a teenager can never be expunged. I think you can be renewed daily by the power of the Holy Spirit. I believe there is forgiveness for any teenager who sins sexually.

But the Brett Kavanaugh case is more complicated than a teenager having consensual intercourse with their partner. The accusations against him are of a serious sexual assault in which the accuser, Dr Christine Blasey Ford, now a professor at Palo Alto University in California, feared for her life. She said that a drunken Kavanaugh pinned her down and groped her and that she was only able to escape when another person interrupted Kavanaugh.

Yes, Mr Kavanaugh can be forgiven for this crime. He can be cleansed of it and can move forward as an adult of excellent character. But that takes contrition, repentance, and the asking for forgiveness. These are all the things Baptist ministers like Franklin Graham usually expect of people who have committed pre-marital sex.

David Fitch of Northern Seminary, Chicago, is absolutely right when he says,

“I believe a man is still determined by an immoral act against a women – even 30 years ago – until he has confessed that sin, sought reconciliation, and been forgiven (by the woman and God).


“When, therefore, a woman accuses the man of a grievous sin, for his own healing and transformation, and for the woman’s healing, he must hear his accuser, confess his sin and ask forgiveness. Until this happens, the man is determined, consciously or unconsciously, by this mark on his past. Afterwards however, in Christ, he (and she) can be transformed and healed and on a path of working for justice and healing in the world. This is how character works. This is what is at stake in the accusations against justice Kavanaugh.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.



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11 thoughts on “Franklin Graham’s strange inconsistency on teen sexual sin

  1. Couple notes on Graham’s comments: 1. It completely sidesteps the trauma of the alleged act and the long term effect on this woman. 2. It is even possible this alleged event could have happened to more than one person. 3. We don’t always know if someone’s record is truly stellar. 4. This situation needs an outside independent investigation and must be taken seriously/believed until the evidence indicates otherwise. 5. It’s important we all remember it involved a minor, which is always reportable, and is a criminal act even if done by a minor (understanding this may now have past the statute of limitations….) 6.When influential leaders immediately defend the accused, it becomes very problematic and sends the message to other abuse survivors to remain silent.
    thanks for the informative article… You are correct, its a very mixed and problematic message on many levels.

    1. Very helpful comments. Thanks for sharing them.

    2. 1. If the accusations are true they are serious and should be confessed and repented of.
      2. Trauma from such events is real and should not be minimized.
      3. At this point, it is she said, he says. No facts have been verified beyond an accusation as far as I have seen.
      4. It is an inconsistency for Franklin G. and he should be asked why.
      5. Faye’s #4 above about an outside investigator is a good one but I don’t see why the accusation MUST be believed simply because an accusation has been made. It should be investigated but not necessarily believed until more facts are in evidence. If the accusation is true, this is unfortunate but it is the only reasonable way forward. Two people’s reputations lie in the balance.
      6. Love and respect both Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford as people made in the image of God, both of whom are to be presumed innocent until more facts are in evidence.

  2. His stance may well be inconsistent, hypocritical, and at odds with the values of Jesus but it’s hardly surprising. It’s an ongoing tragedy that so many self-professed Christians have locked themselves into a particular political adherence, which means they have to undergo all sorts of crazy justifications for their chosen ones. The religious right and Trump is the best example. Franklin Graham is just doing the same thing.
    And he should be called out for it. That is the prophetic voice required right now. Thanks Mike, keep adding your voice to the chorus.

  3. Having spent my life in the American conservative church, Graham’s stance is consistent with their attitudes. Because their concern for teenage sexual purity is focused at GIRLS, not at boys. “Boys will be boys, and the girl probably incited him to it by how she dressed” was the prevalent attitude. It’s a patriarchal church. Mike, your posts have helped me to at last see through the patriarchal attitudes and to see that God values women. Thanks for that.

    1. Well, considered that Clinton was also accused of rape means that Democrats are not pure on the issue either. As for something that happen during the teen years disqualify someone from being a judge its kind of a grey issue.

  4. Interesting… over the last few years I become more and more disappointed with Christianity. No one likes sin, yet everyone is a sinner. None are none righteous no, not one. All we like sheep have gone astray. Sure we all want the best of the best in all leadership positions. But who is qualified? I do not defend those actions. But I confess my high school days were less than holy. I became a pastor in my thirties. Did this need to be made public? The timing is interesting. What would it be like if before the next ” new book” coming out that the there was a release of the person’s old actions that the Lord had covered in Grace? Does He intend these actions to be told over and over again? The Lord cast or sins as far as the east is from the west never to remember them. But thanks to social media we will always make sure that not only are peoples sins remembered and rehearsed over and over and over, but they will never be forgotten.

    Switching gears – When all the scuttle concerning Trump and all the anger and cutting remarks about his life spewed over the airwaves and social media. I wondered if people had ever read the bible. The nation of Israel was led into captivity for 70 years and was told to settle there, to plant gardens and build houses, etc. and to pray a blessing over people they hated and in so doing would be blessed. Can you imagine Christians praying a blessing over ISIS if they took over our country? What about Nebuchadnezzar who after eating grass as a cow declared in Dan 4:37 that he praised and glorified the King of Heaven. No one saw that coming and oh how he would have been blown up by social media Christians. But God had other things in mind. What about Noah who got drunk and who would not have wanted something to drink after that trip. Ham told his brothers that dad was naked and Shem and Japheth took a garment and walked in backward and covered their father’s nakedness. Their faces turned away.

    I am just going to get this off my chest (pot calling the kettle black) I expect more out key leaders in our world. I do not want them sucked into every little sinful distraction. The Church needs leaders who will give us a higher perspective. We need leaders flying at 30,000 feet and helping us to navigate our lives and explain what is going on in a spiritual realm. We would do well to read over and over and over again James 3. We need a broader view of what is taking place and how we need to react. I do not believe for a moment that the Lord intended us to bite and devour one another. I feel broken hearted over our world, I am not mad I am sad and asking the Lord, How do I lead in this mess, how do I react in your ways Lord. When do I speak, when do I keep silent? Can anyone in this world truly be forgiven? I was in a circle of Christians that were crucifying Trump and Clinton – after a bit, I asked. If they were beaten along side the road would they pour in the Oil and the Wine? We need to be people that poor in the oil and the wine. Lord help me! Lord Help us!

    1. Well balanced comments. We all need to look at the plank in our own eye & hold ourselves accountable when we sin – confess to God and those directly involved, and repent…change direction. Gossip only ignites past pain into the present and potentially is harmful to not only us, but others. Worse, it is a distraction from our own journey. I was recently asked my religion. I responded I believe in Jesus NOT religion.

  5. This blog and comments are very frustrating because is gives grace to know one. The accuser has found to be deceiving, yet this blog uses her like she is the women at the well. There is a judgment against Brett Kavanaugh as if he was guilty and needs to repent. It feels like i’m reading a current rendition of the old testament story of Job. Job’s friends telling him that It’s his fault God is mad at him so start cursing God. Pathetic! They were convinced Job like Kavanaugh was guilty. Lastly the suggestion that Franklin Graham is hypocritical by refusing to stand on convictions because of some type of political agenda. Terrible. I get it the church is terrible, todays christians are deceived, And you and the your followers that post have the awesome to change the world. Please. We all get deceived! We all have to check our heart to see if the God we serve has been made into our own image. None of us are any different that the people we read about in the bible. As soon as one person believes they have the answer for the body of Christ they start to become the head. Maybe that is your deception. See ya at church…o wait many here probably don’t go. After all we are the church right. Haters

    1. This comment is very frustrating because, while you complain about us giving grace to no one, you give grace to no one yourself.

  6. What about Noah who got drunk and who would not have wanted something to drink after that trip. Ham told his brothers that dad was naked and Shem and Japheth took a garment and walked in backward and covered their father’s nakedness.

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