Respected pro-life evangelist Billy Graham passed away today at his home in North Carolina. His devotion to Christianity and biblical values earned him praise and respect from people around the world.
While Reverend Graham was noted for his evangelical work in calling people to a relationship with Jesus Christ and repentance from sin, he also had a solid devotion to biblical principles. That included opposition to abortion.
Graham once said that his heart aches for America because of the number of children killed in abortions.
Graham previously said abortion has taken America’s morality downhill — so far that the nation is on par with cities in the Old testament that God destroyed because of their lack of sexual morality. In a 2012 open letter titled “My Heart Aches for America” that addressed concerns about moral issues, Graham wrote: “My heart aches for America and its deceived people. The wonderful news is that our Lord is a God of mercy, and He responds to repentance.”
Some years ago, my wife, Ruth, was reading the draft of a book I was writing. When she finished a section describing the terrible downward spiral of our nation’s moral standards and the idolatry of worshiping false gods such as technology and sex, she startled me by exclaiming, “If God doesn’t punish America, He’ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”
She was probably thinking of a passage in Ezekiel where God tells why He brought those cities to ruin. “Now this was the sin of … Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen” (Ezekiel 16:49–50, NIV).
I wonder what Ruth would think of America if she were alive today. In the years since she made that remark, millions of babies have been aborted and our nation seems largely unconcerned. Self-centered indulgence, pride, and a lack of shame over sin are now emblems of the American lifestyle.
Yet the farther we get from God, the more the world spirals out of control.
My heart aches for America and its deceived people. The wonderful news is that our Lord is a God of mercy, and He responds to repentance. In Jonah’s day, Nineveh was the lone world superpower—wealthy, unconcerned, and self-centered. When the Prophet Jonah finally traveled to Nineveh and proclaimed God’s warning, people heard and repented.
Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins expressed the kind of sentiments many pro-life people felt today.
She told LifeNews: “At a time in which so many leaders in politics, pulpits and entertainment have proven flawed, the Rev. Billy Graham stands as an example of humble leadership, noteworthy for not only his scandal-free life, but for his consistency in calling for a life of faith and service. He is an example for us all of dignity, integrity and tireless courage in communicating timeless truths with love and respect. He will be missed.”
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins added the following:
“Billy Graham grew up in what most would consider humble, ordinary beginnings but because he yielded himself to God, he was used to accomplish the extraordinary — forever impacting the lives of countless people. In the face of naysayers, he chose to obey God rather than man and he turned the world upside down. Billy Graham was empowered by a reverent fear of God — so much so that he overcame the seemingly insurmountable and took the gospel to people and places thought virtually impossible. He even ventured to countries most hostile to Christianity including North Korea and the Soviet Union. Dr. Graham’s deep faith in God overruled the fears of his time. He never failed to give glory to God and the power of prayer for his ministry’s success.
“I remember how easily Dr. Graham discussed current events while always relating them to God’s timeless truths. A newspaper once described his preaching style as ‘holding the Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other.’ He knew how to relate the gospel to the daily life experiences of his audience. This understanding of social trends led him to call attention to family breakdown and the consequences for future generations.”
In his 99 years of life, the famous evangelist witnessed the pain and havoc legalized abortion has wreaked on American culture. In an advice column, Graham mourned the spiritual and emotional insensitivity toward abortion in today’s culture as he reached out to a hurting, post-abortive woman.
The woman, J.N., wrote to Graham: “Maybe some women can go through an abortion and never feel guilty, but I’m not one of them. I feel terrible over what I did, and every time I drive by a school playground I’m almost consumed with grief.”
Graham responded compassionately, reassuring the woman that God has not rejected or abandoned her. Even though what she did was wrong, she still is loved by God, Graham wrote.
“He loves you, just as He loved the child that was growing in your womb (and is now, I am confident, safely in His presence). Furthermore, when Christ died on the cross, all your sins — without exception — were transferred to Him, and He took upon Himself the judgment you deserved. As the Bible says, ‘He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins’ (1 John 2:2),” he wrote.
Graham’s compassionate response is one that should be modeled by religious leaders and churches across the U.S. Many women sitting in church pews have had abortions and are silently suffering. Abortion is tragically common even among American Christians, despite Christian teachings about the sanctity of life. In 2014, 24 percent of women who had abortions identified as Catholic, 17 percent as mainline Protestant and 13 percent as evangelical Protestant, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Even Graham’s own family has not been immune to struggles with pregnancy and abortion. His granddaughter Windsor Bauders faced three different pregnancy struggles, each which could have ended in abortion, according to the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation Blog. Fortunately, she chose life for her children in each case.
Graham urged Christians to vote pro-life as it was a central concern for him.
“The legacy we leave behind for our children, grandchildren, and this great nation is crucial,” he said. “I believe it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel. I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman. Vote for biblical values this November 6th, and pray with me that America will remain one nation under God.”