Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Billy Graham and marriage

Really wonderful cover story in August 14th's Newsweek about Billy Graham, by Jon Meacham. Here's the link, but it may require registration to read. (Feel free to email me if the link doesn't work and I'll send you the text of the article.)

Graham has impressed me in recent years, as he's transformed from a more political preacher to sticking more exclusively with the Gospel. For all his influence, there's a great humility there. This is from the article:

Others relish the battlefield; Graham now prizes peace. He is a man of unwavering faith who refuses to be judgmental; a steady social conservative in private who actually does hate the sin but loves the sinner; a resolute Christian who declines to render absolute verdicts about who will get into heaven and who will not; a man concerned about traditional morality--he is still slightly embarrassed that he kissed "two or three girls" before he kissed his wife--who will not be dragged into what he calls the "hot-button issues" of the hour. Graham's tranquil voice, though growing fainter, has rarely been more relevant.

I'm not going to be able to cite the source, but one report about Graham years ago has stuck with me. In it, a reporter asked him frankly about his own sexual practices. This was at a time when many well-known Christian preachers were being caught with their pants down, so to speak.

Graham's response made absolute Christian sense to me, if you know what I mean. He talked about focusing 100% of his sexual energy toward his wife Ruth. He never put himself in a position of being alone with another woman, he didn't let his thoughts stray to fantasizing about other women, he didn't even conjure up imaginary women. He kept all that exclusively for his wife. Mentally physically absolutely. It was the most marvelous definition of fidelity I'd ever read.

In the years since reading that, I've tried to embrace it. Meaning, whenever I found myself in a relationship, even though I had embraced chastity so wasn't having sex, I still tried to train myself to focus whatever desire I felt toward my new love. Perhaps it sounds strange, but I could see it would be a deep commitment to refrain from looking around when in a relationship.

We're so acculturated to keeping our options open. True fidelity would be firmly and insistently keeping our options closed. No options, but this one that we've committed to.

Graham has really walked that talk. Here's what the article says about the twilight of his marriage:

Ruth dwells at the center of his world. "At night we have time together; we pray together and read the Bible together every night," he says. "It's a wonderful period of life for both of us. We've never had a love like we have now--we feel each other's hearts."

What a sharing they have with each other. It's that true sense of marriage that I so admire about Billy Graham.

Marriage should signify a union of hearts.

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At 8/16/2006 08:12:00 AM, Anonymous Dennis R. said...

I identify with this. I have been married for 32 years to a woman I adore. I try to keep my focus on her as the one an only. I am not saying I am never tempted, but my goal is to love her it that special way and her only.

When I am away from my wife, I only speak positive about her. I let others know about how beautiful and wonderful she is. This keeps me free from temptation, for others know that I am faithful to her and intend to stay that way.

Of course, I have been fortunate. My wife has kept her beauty. She is actually more beautiful than the day I married her.

I always say if God did nothing else for me, he gave me Brenda for which I am forever grateful.


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