Last year I wrote a column about Liberty University President Jerry Falwell titled “Jerry Falwell, Guilty Until Proven Innocent?” I noted that the media are quick to jump at any failure of a Christian leader, especially with the name of Falwell, whether true or false. I was convinced that many accusations were untrue.
Jerry was the President of Liberty University, founded by a longtime friend of mine, Jerry Falwell, Sr. Jerry Senior did an astounding job in establishing the school, and Junior did an astounding job expanding the school. After many failures, he then did additional harm when an Instagram went public of him with his arm around a woman at a yacht party. Both Jerry and his female friend were pictured with pants unzipped, and his underwear was exposed.
Jerry was wrong in many ways in that incident, but he posted it on Instagram; that was not dumb; it was super dumb. While there is no vaccine for the Chinese coronavirus or racism, there is also no vaccine for stupidity.
He took a leave of absence from Liberty. Today, many major media outlets reported he had resigned as President. Later today, it was reported he had not resigned.
Whatever, Jerry Falwell should never have anything to do with the university. Forgiveness, yes; return to power, no.
Most of the media and all on the left hated Senior with passionate heat. It always shows in any article or interview. However, friends of Liberty will not be true to principle or the memory of Jerry Sr. if this additional escapade is not handled biblically.
On Sunday, Jerry confirmed a major sexual failure in his family to the Washington Examiner. He called it an “inappropriate personal relationship,” but a more honest and appropriate term is adultery. Everyone has a tendency to soften, lessen, and make more pleasant anything that is unpleasant. He added that “Becki had an inappropriate personal relationship with this person, something in which I was not involved.” I’m suspicious of that statement. It appears to be as old as man. “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.”
The media is ablaze with new charges that Jerry’s wife Becki had a year-long (now we are told it lasted six years) sexual affair with the “pool boy,” Giancarlo Granda! Jerry admitted the shocking affair to the Washington Examiner. However, Granda, a business partner of the Falwells, also charged that Jerry looked on while he and Becki had sex as reported by Reuters. That’s revolting, repulsive, and reprehensible if true.
Jerry has not admitted that additional salacious voyeur accusation. Moreover, many false charges can be expected after such an affair is made public, and no honest person, even Falwell-haters, should believe them without corroboration. Jerry has done many stupid things recently, but he just can’t be that stupid unless he has been taking stupid pills. Falwell’s attorney has categorically denied the Reuters story about Jerry being an observer.
But then, sin does that. It makes us think we are special when no one is special. And any person on Earth has the potential of doing anything if the circumstances are just right. Of course, the public has a right to expect more from Christians than such barnyard behavior.
Giancarlo said his “sexual relationship with the Falwells began when he was 20,” and Becki was in her late 40s. She is now 54. Jerry charged that when he tried to get out of a business arrangement he had with Giancarlo, Giancarlo began blackmailing him until he was “just tired of it” and admitted the affair to the media.
Falwell said he and Becki reconciled quickly, but the extortion continued, and he got fed up and released the information to the Examiner. Jerry admitted, “I shouldn’t have been afraid to admit my vulnerabilities and to reach out for assistance from the mental health professionals who could have alleviated this pain and stress.”
It is good that Jerry took some responsibility for the affair. He said he should have sought help from “mental health professionals,” but his first stop should have been at an old-fashioned altar to confess his sins of boasting about his sexual prowess; the size of his testicles; he and his son relaxing in a Miami nightclub; and helping his son purchase a “gay-friendly” Miami Beach hostel characterized by Politico as a “cesspool of vice.”
Granda revealed other incriminating material to Reuters that is even worse than his affair with Becki; however, some of it cannot be verified. There were audio recordings between him and the Falwells that are disturbing. He also released a text, allegedly from Becki to him, that has her saying, “Right now I am just missing you like crazy….Have you had this effect on all of your lady friends?”
Other messages between the Falwells and Granda reveal anger and frustration. In the same message string, Falwell reportedly replied, “You should by now understand that I will not be extorted. I have always treated you fairly and been restrained in response to your threats because I did not wish to ruin your life. Going forward, stop contacting me and my family.”
This is a sad example of the failure of church discipline. Whatever the final outcome of this story, many of the details will remain unknown. Someone long ago should have dealt with Jerry, not because of these new accusations, but his admitted failures in the past. That would include Jerry Jr. and his son dancing and drinking at a Florida nightclub; providing more than a million-dollar down payment for the “gay-friendly” hostel; the “racy” photos of Becki; and Jerry’s Instagram of him with his arm around a woman in hot pants (both their pants unzipped) on a yacht with bikini-clad dancers on deck.
Heavens! What do you have to do to receive church discipline in Virginia? Baptists, like Roman Catholics, are required to live according to basic biblical principles. If you don’t follow them, then you must give an account. Even the Moose Lodge expects that.
Some of the above charges are so outrageous they can only be identified as sad, sinful, and stupid. One can get forgiveness for sin but not for being stupid. He sure does not qualify as President of a Christian university. Or any university.
I have many longtime friends associated with Liberty, including some board members, and I have been told that Jerry is not a member of Thomas Road Baptist Church. If so, then Pastor Jonathan Falwell and that church cannot be held responsible. My sources have confirmed that Jerry and his whole family have seldom been seen at the church in years.
Whatever church the Falwells are members of, the church leadership failed to treat them as other members: in love holding them accountable for transgressing biblical and church standards of behavior.
Christians are not perfect people but saved people. Moreover, we need to be forgiven day-to-day for our sins. The failed members of the Falwell family have discredited Christianity, disgraced their church, dismayed their family, demoralized Liberty students, destroyed their reputations, damaged Liberty University, and dirtied Jerry, Sr.’s memory.
President Trump will have to quickly reevaluate his association with Falwell, one of his most important and ardent supporters who has stepped in it too many times.
Sins can be forgiven but cannot be undone.