Lots of people were wide-eyed Monday about Jerry Falwell Jr. after the suspended Liberty University president admitted his wife had a brief affair with another man. The paramour was a Miami Beach pool boy with whom the couple partnered years ago in buying a gay-friendly hostel in Florida.
Giancarlo Granda, 29, told Reuters the relationship started when he was 20 and carried on for years — in New York, Florida and at the couple’s home here in Virginia. Granda also said Jerry watched them in flagrante delicto.
Granda allegedly showed a Reuters reporter screenshots from a video chat he had with Becki while she wore her birthday suit, as Jerry peeked in the room. Jerry said the young man had extorted the couple. It was unclear Monday night whether Jerry was resigning from the university.
Jerry wrote a 1,200-word statement to the Washington Examiner in which he said he’d forgiven Becki, and she’d forgiven him for whatever. Most importantly, “I was not involved,” Jerry wrote.
Between these statements is a whole ocean of possibilities that sends the imagination reeling.
In analyzing this, we should hew strictly to the facts about what we know and what we don’t. That’s because through a conservative Christian lens, there’s actually a lot to say in Jerry and Becki’s defense.
First of all, there’s not even a whiff of male-on-male contact here. Jerry has emphatically denied any involvement — in writing — and Granda hasn’t even hinted about homosexuality.
I’m sure that’s a big relief to the greater Liberty U community, because heterosexual high jinks among evangelical Christians are a road well traveled.
Recall Jim Bakker and Jessica Hahn; and Jimmy Swaggart and the prostitute at an airport motel? Don’t forget evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson, who in the 1920s survived rumors that she went on a monthlong bender with a married man, and that she also (according to rumor) cavorted with the legendary comedian Milton Berle.
Second, Granda claims he was 20 when the relationship with Becki started. This is important because it means we are not veering into Jeffrey Epstein territory and some sordid escapade involving minors, which would be far worse.
Third, none of the buzz about Jerry and Becki alleges any criminal behavior whatsoever by them. Even if one accepts Granda’s claims on their face, the worst thing Jerry and Becki are guilty of is cuckoldry.
Although Jerry has denied Granda’s claims he watched, should we even care if it’s true? Apparently, husbands watching their wives with other men is a not-too-uncommon kink among married couples. Even the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University has studied it. Nothing illegal there.
However, you can’t necessarily say the same about Granda. Jerry’s statement accused the younger man of “threatening to publicly reveal this secret relationship with Becki and to deliberately embarrass my wife, family, and Liberty University unless we agreed to pay him substantial monies.”
Although nobody has charged Granda with a crime, if true, it sounds like blackmail, which is a felony. So you might want to view the veracity of Granda’s statements through that lens.
Fourth, there’s absolutely no evidence that Becki became pregnant in this brief or lengthy relationship, whichever it was. Why is this good news? Because it means that, whatever happened, the question of abortion never entered into the equation.
Whether you support abortion rights or not, you’ve got to acknowledge this is a huge cross Liberty University will never have to bear in defending Jerry.
Fifth, you may not have noticed, but Granda’s statements also call into question persistent rumors (which Jerry has denied) about Jerry texting a photo of Becki in a sexy French maid outfit to others. Although Politico published an article about that last year, Granda apparently never mentioned lingerie in his statements to Reuters.
So perhaps we can conclude those were as untrue as the unproven allegations regarding a porn star and a Playmate made against President Donald Trump. (For the purposes of this column, we won’t consider the rumors that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen helped Jerry and Becki bury the story about Granda. We can wait for Cohen’s upcoming book.)
Finally, and most importantly, let’s consider how Jerry and Becki have acted amid this tempest of innuendo and scandal. They have exemplified their Christian faith.
The words “forgave” and “forgiveness” each appear twice in Jerry’s statement. Jerry has forgiven Becki for her “inappropriate personal relationship” and she, apparently, has forgiven him for his inattentiveness back when he was trying to rescue a financially foundering Liberty University after the death of his father, and its founder, the late Jerry Falwell Sr.
Forgiveness, after all, is the heart of Christianity. God can forgive you for anything.
That’s how we know Jerry Falwell Sr. is not rolling in his grave at this moment. He’s probably smiling down from heaven, proud of his namesake. After all, there was no homosexuality, no abortion, no crime at all in the eyes of the law.
Time to move on — and to say some prayers for the future of Liberty University, as it struggles not only with reopening amid a potentially deadly pandemic, but with the latest salacious news.