Taking the World's Temperature
This is the second part of an interview the 1977 editors of Christianity Today conducted with the evangelist. It appeared in the September 23, 1977 issue.
What did you think of Anita Bryant's campaign and how do you feel about the demands being made by homosexuals?
She is a very brave woman. Homosexuality is a sin. That is the teaching of Scripture. I think she was right in emphasizing that God loves the homosexual and we should love the homosexual and present Christ to the homosexual. Some things she and her associates said I would not have said in the same way.
I did not join in the local conflict in Dade County because I have become fearful of getting diverted from my primary role as proclaimer of the Gospel. I'm asked to lead drives against pornography, against liquor, and so on. I have learned to endorse what moral issues Christians ought to stand for. I don't always take a leadership role because my primary job is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and I don't want anything to divert me from that. I was also fearful that her campaign might galvanize and bring out into the open homosexuality throughout the country, so that homosexuals would end up in a stronger position. Whether that is going to materialize I do not know.
What is the spiritual temperature of the human race? Have you noticed any changes over the last year or two?
I think a gigantic battle is going on between the forces of evil and the forces of God all over the world on a scale I have not known in my lifetime. I think there is a wide-open door in many parts of the world indicating a deep spiritual hunger. There is a spiritual vacuum. At the same time, the forces of evil are becoming more vicious, more hostile, more out in the open, as evidenced, for example, by so many new motion pictures on the devil—monster and horror pictures. Take the violence in the streets in many parts of the world, the kidnappings, the terrorism. The recent blackout in New York is a dramatic illustration. The veneer of civilization is very, very thin. Right underneath are the forces of evil just waiting for their moment to pounce, and maybe even to take over as much as they can of the world.
This brings us to a point Christians must wrestle with, namely, what does it mean to be separated from the world? People want to hear sermons about that. It doesn't mean that we're to get out of the world and forget the world's spiritual or social needs. It does mean that we are to remain unspotted from the world and the forces of evil. Christians have grown permissive without knowing it. Although there is a growing interest in Bible study and in living a disciplined life for Christ, we haven't made it clear that we're to be separated from unclean things, situations, and people. Jesus mingled with the world; that's one thing. But we must be separated from the evils of the world. There are things that have become acceptable to me over the years, primarily I suppose because of the influence of television. I have to be careful now because I find myself watching things that were not previously part of my life. Others, I'm sure, are similarly affected and that's why we need more teaching on separation. All in all, I see the battle lines being drawn. Efforts are being made to destroy Christianity, whether through violence, which takes lives, or in classrooms where professors are undermining faith with sophistry.