Franklin Graham and other conservative evangelicals have come to the defense of Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, after pop singer Lady Gaga attacked the Pences as being the “worst representation” of the Christian faith.
The movie star and singer made headlines over the weekend after she slammed Pence for supporting his wife’s decision to teach at Immanuel Christian School in Springfield, Virginia, a school that upholds traditional beliefs on sexuality and marriage.
Karen Pence’s employment there has been the focus of secular media attention in the last week, with criticism of her decision to work at a school that prohibits students and their families from engaging in conduct that goes against the “biblical lifestyle the school teaches.”
Such conduct includes “condoning sexual immorality, homosexual activity or bi-sexual activity.”
"You said you should not discriminate against Christianity. You are the worst representation of what it means to be a Christian,” Lady Gaga, whose real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, said during her Las Vegas performance. “I am a Christian woman, and what I do know about Christianity is that we bear no prejudice and everybody is welcome. So you can take all that disgrace, Mr. Pence, and look yourself in the mirror and you’ll find it right there.”
Graham, who is the head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and has largely supported the social conservative agenda of the Trump administration, took to Facebook to respond to Lady Gaga’s accusation.
Graham stressed that Lady Gaga’s comments are “misguided and unfortunate.”
“Excuse me? As Christians, following Christ means following the teachings of God’s Word,” Graham contested. “The Bible makes it clear that homosexuality is a sin — among many others — and they all have a cost.”
Graham contended that followers of Christ are to “seek to live our lives in obedience to His Word.”
“He set the rules, not us; He is the one who defined sin, and out of His love and mercy, He provided a remedy for sin — all sin — through repentance and faith in His Son, Jesus Christ,” Graham concluded. “I know Vice President Mike Pence and Mrs. Pence, and, to me, the way they conduct their lives and exhibit their faith make them the best kind of Christian. What a blessing they are to our nation!”
Many would say that Lady Gaga herself hasn't lived a life of obedience. During an appearance on Bravo TV's "Watch What Happens Live" with host Andy Cohen, Lady Gaga gave viewers advice on drug use, and talked about her bisexuality and patronizing strip clubs in Russia before she became sober.
Michael Brown, a messianic Jewish radio host and conservative author, wrote in an op-ed that Lady Gaga has the story about Pence’s school “completely wrong.” Brown said that the school is not banning a group of people but rather a set of behaviors.
“It is simply holding to biblical and historic Christian standards, forbidding certain behaviors rather than certain people,” Brown stressed.
Brown also notes that Lady Gaga has herself exhibited less-than-Christian behavior in some of her past performances.
“As far as being decent human beings, Mike and Karen Pence have a great reputation, as friends of theirs have told me,” Brown said. “They are not associated with any scandalous behavior — financially or sexually — and it is commendable, rather than contemptible, that the wife of the vice president has gone back to teach at a children’s school. How common is that?”
Brown points out that in the view of Lady Gaga, the Pences’ Christianity “represents oppression and discrimination.”
“From the viewpoint of the Pences — and hundreds of millions of Christians worldwide — it represents the extraordinary love of God, the indescribable compassion of the Savior, the matchless demonstration of the Lord’s grace,” Brown explained. “It speaks of a perfectly holy God who has the right to destroy each and every one of us. But instead, in the person of His Son, He comes into our world and — who could imagine this? — dies for our sins. That is what we call the Gospel.”
Lady Gaga has ascended to be somewhat of a celebrity spokesperson for the LGBT community. Brown notes that her widely popular song “Born This Way” has become an LGBT anthem of sorts.
But Brown argues that everyone is “born the wrong way” thus bringing the need to be born-again.
“We were born with a sinful nature. Disobedience came naturally to us. Pride and selfishness were ingrained. Lust and lying did not have to be manufactured,” Brown wrote. “Yes, all of us were born that way. Which is why Jesus taught, ‘You must be born again! You must be born from above!’”
Michael J. Kruger, president of the Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina, wrote in a blog post that there are thousands of Christian schools around the country just like Immanuel Christian School.
“[T]hey are merely teaching the historical Christian position about sexuality,” Kruger reasoned.
Writing about Lady Gaga’s response, Kruger asserted that when public discussions on the matter of LGBT issues arise, “everyone suddenly becomes a Christian theologian.”
Since Lady Gaga argued that Pence’s behavior is “wrong,” Kruger argues that Lady Gaga presented a “moral absolute.”
“One wonders, then, what standard of morality Gaga is using. How does she know certain behaviors are morally wrong?” Kruger asks. “Certainly it couldn’t be the Christian faith that shows her this, because Christianity, for thousands of years, has been remarkably consistent on its view of sexuality.”
“So we are left to presume that Lady Gaga’s moral standards come from herself,” Kruger adds. “She creates her own morality. But if everyone can create their own morality, then why not Mike Pence?”