By Larry Ray Hafley
“Mrs. (Gerald) Ford does not need our condemnation (for her widely publicized remarks about `affairs and abortion’); she needs our sympathy and our prayers in her behalf. We should pray that she would wake up to the need of sanctity of the home and proper example for our children. We should pray that she realize that sin is sin and needs to be forgiven” (John N. Ball, The Christian Standard, November 23, 1975; p. 8).
All of Mr. Ball’s statement is not quoted. He said many good things in his article. Indeed, there is nothing to disagree with except for one “small” factor that is a “large” part of the trouble with much preaching and teaching. Mr. Ball says Betty Ford “does not need our condemnation.” I beg to differ. She does need “our condemnation.” True, she needs sympathy and prayer. She needs love and understanding, but one cannot sympathize or pray or love or understand one out of darkness into light. This is done through doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness. Mrs. Ford is a big girl. She lives in the major leagues. Her words and actions have immeasurable effects and incalculable consequences. When she openly and unashamedly accepts illicit sexual activity, she needs condemnation and plenty of it. She is to be condemned for what she will not condemn.
But Mr. Ball’s words represent the spirit of the age. All agree that love and prayer are necessary. One should approach those overtaken in a fault in the attitude of humility and brotherly love, “in the spirit of meekness” (Gal. 6:1). The idea of many is that one can be loved and prayed out of perdition, if not “out of purgatory. “Do not call names.” “Do not condemn:” “Do not adamantly oppose that which you know to ‘be evil.” “Pray for it.” “Love it, and maybe it will go away.’ Sorry, but that is not the way it works. That is just part of the cure. A person must be loved and tenderly taught, but this does not minimize nor negate the. need for some plain, old condemnation. Betty Ford needs it, and so does every preacher who thinks sin and error can be loved prayed and sympathized out of existence.
Truth Magazine XXI: 4, p. 61
January 27, 1977