This article originally appeared in the May 21, 1982 issue of Christianity Today.
My pet rabbit died rather abruptly (as pet rabbits have a way of doing). Thus it was a forlorn 8-year-old who lovingly buried him beside the sandpile. Then every day I dug him up to see how he was getting along. The last time I saw him he was green.
The principle of "love covers" versus "investigative reporting" in Christian magazines is being kicked about like a ball on a soccer field. The opposing teams are the Pros versus the Cons. At the moment the Pros are ahead.
Thinking about our greater mission family in China while I was growing up, I remembered gratefully one occasion when someone felland how quickly, quietly, and effectively that fall was dealt with. Then love covered: it was not, like my pet rabbit, dug up again. I thought about our own family through the years and how, on occasion, situations had to be faced and dealt with. And buried.
I think of churches that wisely and compassionately deal the same way, remembering Paul's plea for a censured Christian he felt had had enough: "So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow" (2 Cor. 2:7).
There is a school where a student who needs to be disciplined has to do a certain number of laps around the football field; how many depends on the seriousness of the offense. But if another student taunts him or refers to it later, he receives the same punishmentdoubled.
There will always be those rare occasions when some heresy, some cult, or some con game operating under the name of Christianity needs to be exposed so as to warn Christians. But that is something different. It seldom involves the trip-ups and tragedies of true believers. In "the family," flagrant sins should be dealt with promptly, compassionately, privately. Then silence.
Every cat knows some things need to be buried.
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The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has a memorial site for Ruth. The press release above is from A. Larry Ross and Associates, Billy's longtime personal publicist and spokesman, has photos, video, and more information.
Christianity Today articles by and about Ruth Bell Graham include:
Mrs. Graham's Grit | Three cheers for incompatibility. (August 1, 2007)
"The Epitome of a Christian Woman" | A longtime friend of Ruth Graham says this woman of great faith also missed her husband deeply. (June 20, 2007)
A Living Birthday Letter | Ruth Graham's life is a letter crafted especially for people like me who dread the thought of growing old. (Wendy Murray Zoba, June 12, 2000)
What Ruth Graham Taught Me About Prayer | A powerful way to make God's words your own. (Today's Christian, July/August 1999)
Moved into the Presence of God | Ruth Graham tells what book has influenced her the most. (September 2, 1983)
Afraid of the Right Things | One fear puts all others in proper perspective. (March 4, 1983)
Putting Pressure in Its Place | Ruth Bell Graham on the purpose of stress. (May 8, 1981)
RuthBellGraham.com expired in 2005 and is now a cybersquatter's site, but its content is still available at the Internet Archive.
Obituaries on Ruth Bell Graham include those from the Associated Press, Asheville Citizen-Times, Charlotte Observer, Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, News14 Charlotte, and other sources.
Patricia Conwell's biography of Ruth Graham, Ruth, A Portrait, is available from ChristianBook.com and other retailers.