One summer day in 1974, my father called me to the kitchen table. He gestured toward pen and note paper, and indicated that he wanted to dictate a letter to President Nixon. I recorded his words of encouragement to the embattled President, and mailed the letter that day.
A short time later, when White House audio tapes were released, implicating Nixon in the Watergate cover-up, I asked Dad if he regretted writing the President. “No,” Dad replied. Without hesitation, he added, “I would do it again.”
After President Ford pardoned Nixon, my reservations about Dad’s encouragement of the disgraced ex-leader faded from memory. Recently, I was prompted to reflect on Dad’s letter when Dr. Ed Young, pastor of Second Baptist, Houston, described his revulsion in response to reading Nixon’s filthy, vulgar, transcripted conversations. Dr. Young recalled the last night that Nixon spent in the White House. All his family and friends had departed, and Nixon asked one man to spend the night with him—Billy Graham.
Dr. Young strongly urged the evangelist to consider that he represented the Christian world, and not to align himself with the vile corruption associated with the President. Billy Graham’s response was in the form of a question. “Does a shepherd run away from a sheep when he gets dark?” Dr. Young says that he has sought to practice what he learned from Graham. As a shepherd, Dr. Young stands with his sheep, publically and privately, especially in the dark, in spite of the possibility of being condemned guilty by association.
Only God can cleanse and forgive sin, but all of us who are “lovers in Christ,” are empowered to love sinners. It tells all about it in that fabulous love chapter—1 Corinthians 13. Dad would have appreciated the story of how “America’s preacher” demonstrated love for a black sheep by showing up for a sleep over.