Franklin Graham, President and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, recently slammed the Presbyterian Church's controversial decision to amend the denomination's constitution to include acceptance of same-sex weddings.
On Thursday, the 64 year old evangelist wrote on his Facebook page, "The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) approved redefining marriage in the church constitution Tuesday to include a "commitment between two people," becoming the largest Protestant group to formally recognize gay marriage and allow same-sex weddings in congregations. In His Word, the Bible, God has already defined marriage, as well as sin, and we should obey that rather than looking for ways to redefine it according to the desires of our culture. Marriage is defined as between a man and a woman-end of discussion. Anything else is a sin against God, and He will judge all sin one day."
Graham's comments were made after majority of the Presbyterian Church's 171 regional bodies voted to change the words on marriage in the church's Book of Order from "between a man and a woman" to "between two people, traditionally a man and a woman."
Over the past several years, the church, which is the largest of the nation's Presbyterian denominations with 1.8 million members, has steadily lost members as it has moved to the left theologically, according statistics from layman.org. In 2011, the PCUSA ratified a decision to ordain gays and lesbians as pastors, elders and deacons, leading to a major split within the denomination.
Reverend Graham's response to the decision resonated with readers, who "liked" his post over 51,000 times and shared it nearly 12,000 times.
"The [Presbyterian] Church left Scripture and its own theology years ago. That is why so many have and continue to leave. Fear of offending is the greatest guide in its teachings. Very sad for those seeking truth in love," agreed William Helander under the post.
Added Carol Mietinnen, "This is heartbreaking. Just one more stone on the heap on which we (America) will be judged."
Many other religious leaders within the Presbyterian Church have voiced their sorrow over the amendment, including Paul Detterman, national director of The Fellowship Community, a group of conservatives who have stayed in the church.
"Our objection to the passage of the marriage amendment is in no way, shape or form anti-gay. It is in no way intended as anything but concern that the church is capitulating to the culture and is misrepresenting the message of Scripture," he told the New York Times.
"We definitely will see another wave, a sizable wave, of conservative folks leaving," but said he and others were staying because "this conversation is dreadfully important to be a part of."
Other denominations within the Presbyterian Church, including the Presbyterian Church in America, the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, continue to oppose same-sex unions in the United States, while the Presbyterian Churches in Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and Brazil have all declared homosexuality as a sin.