Evangelicalism, Billy Graham, and Fidelity in Marriage...

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Certain books have had an impact on my life equivalent to the plate tectonic shift that gave birth to December's tsunami. Two such books were the first and
second volumes of the two-volume biography of Martyn Lloyd-Jones by Iain Murray.

Having grown up among evangelicalism's founders and leaders in Wheaton, Illinois, when I read the account of the London controversy between Lloyd-Jones and Billy Graham in which Lloyd-Jones declined to take any prominent part in Graham's London crusade because of the very public compromises with liberalism Graham was accustomed to make, a new understanding of my heritage and its sins washed over me.

Suddenly I understood my fathers and their friends in a way I'd never understood them before, and I began the very slow process of repenting of such compromises in my own life.

When I read Jesus condemning the scribes and Pharisees, confronting them publicly saying, "You nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition" (Matthew 15:6), I knew that my evangelical tradition also had to be repented of. Still, much of that tradition I continue to cling to because it represents a truly biblical and Christ-honoring faith. And one aspect of evangelicalism's traditions that are biblical traditions is the concern for holiness that used to be central to this community.

So then, to return to Billy Graham, evangelicalism's patron saint, and to say something good about him, here's the one Graham quote I've used regularly in my ministry. I honor the man for these commitments related to the fairer sex...

...and have followed them myself from the beginning of my marriage.

And by the way, this article appeared in Christianity Today about the time I stopped looking at the magazine, hence the age of this quote:

Interviewer: What safeguards have you taken over the years to protect yourself and maintain personal spiritual purity?

Billy Graham: I decided there were three areas that Satan could attack in--pride, morals, and finances. Over the years I tried to set up safeguards against the dangers of each...

Concerning morals: I'm sure I've been tempted, especially in my younger years. But there has never been anything close to an incident. I took precautions. From the earliest days I've never had a meal alone with a woman other than Ruth, not even in a restaurant. I've never ridden in an automobile alone with a woman. Those kinds of precautions can lead to some misunderstandings. There was a time when Ruth thought I was too cold to women. But I always had this in the back of my mind. There is always the chance of misunderstanding.

(Billy Graham as quoted in an interview published in Christianity Today, Vol. 32, No. 17, Nov. 18, 1988, pp.21-23.)