Franklin Graham warns UK Methodist Church is 'trying to edit the Word of God'

The Rev. Franklin Graham speaks at the 'God Loves Your' tour event at the ExCel London convention center in London, England, on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023.
The Rev. Franklin Graham speaks at the "God Loves Your" tour event at the ExCel London convention center in London, England, on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023. | Courtesy BGEA

Evangelist Franklin Graham has slammed The Methodist Church in the United Kingdom for “trying to edit what the Word of God says” after the church released an "Inclusive Language Guide" advising Methodists to avoid using gendered terms such as "husband" and "wife.”

“Shame on the Methodist Church,” Graham, CEO of Samaritan’s Purse, wrote in a social media post Tuesday. “These are Biblical terms — and marriage between a man and a woman is biblical truth. The word ‘wife’ is used in some 360 verses in 38 books of the Bible. They are in essence trying to edit what the Word of God says and teaches to be more appealing to the changing whims of culture. We are warned against that in Scripture. As Christians, we aren’t called to avoid what might offend people — we are called to share the Truth of God’s Word that can guide and direct us through every step of life.”

Graham’s comments come in response to the guidance, released in December, that contended that gendered terms such as "husband" and "wife" could be “offensive” because such allegedly assumes what is not "the reality for many people."

"As Christians, we need to have the courage for conversations that can sometimes be difficult, to recognize that we sometimes exclude people, to listen with humility, to repent of any hurtful language and to take care with how we listen and what we say or write, in the Spirit of Christ," says the guidance, which will be updated every six months.

According to the guidance, there is "infinite variety in the way that God’s creation is expressed in human life.” It offered "husband" and "wife" as examples of terminology that "may sound inoffensive but it makes assumptions about a family or personal life that is not the reality for many people."

The guidance also outlined the words "parent," "partner," "child," and "carer" as suitable alternatives.

The guide said the U.K.-based Methodist Church "uses language that is inclusive of LGBT+ people," and encouraged using the language an individual prefers, including the pronouns by which they choose to identify.

The guidance also pointed readers to nonprofits that include the left-wing Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and Stonewall, an LGBT charity in the U.K.

A spokesperson for the denomination told The Christian Post it was “proud” of the guidance, adding: "It helps the Church hold conversations without making assumptions or inadvertently causing upset. Some find this especially useful when talking with those who may have had a different life experience to their own."

According to the denomination's Book of Discipline, LGBT-identified clergy are banned from ordination, and same-sex marriages are also prohibited. However, progressive Methodist churches and regional governing bodies in the U.S. have defied these rules in recent years.

In the U.S. in 2022, the UMC Western Jurisdiction voted to make the Rev. Cedrick D. Bridgeforth of the California-Pacific Conference a bishop, although he is in a same-sex marriage. 

A growing schism within the UMC in the U.S. over LGBT issues has led to a significant number of congregations leaving the denomination. It’s estimated that about a quarter of the congregations have decided to split; since 2019, more than 7,000 congregations have received approval to leave the denomination. 

Thousands of congregations that have disaffiliated from the UMC have joined the Global Methodist Church, a theologically conservative denomination launched as an alternative to the UMC last year. 

A denomination-wide legislative gathering is planned for spring 2024, which will consider calls to liberalize policies on marriage and other issues related to LGBT ideology. 

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