9: Pat Boone

9: Pat Boone

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Billy Graham & Me

• 9 •

Bestselling singer and television star; member of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and the Christian Music Hall of Fame

For Shirley and me, one of the grandest blessings in our richly blessed lives has been our friendship with Ruth and Billy Graham. Though our times together have been few and far between, they stretch from our first meeting in Beverly Hills for the tribute to the famed country/western stars, Roy and Dale Rogers, to visits in Hawaii and Beverly Hills, to my participation in crusades with Billy, and a visit just a few years ago at their mountain home in Montreat.

A God-ordained mutual appearance on national television tops my list of memorable moments with Billy Graham. It was in 1972 on the popular Dick Cavett Show, and Billy was the main featured guest. I was going to sing a couple of my hit songs after Billy and Dick had their conversation, and was listening in the “green room” while a somewhat cynical, skeptical Cavett asked Billy some very direct questions. “Reverend Graham, do you still adhere to your belief that there should be no sex outside marriage?”

Predictably, Billy answered with something like, “That’s not my idea, Dick… it’s God’s directive.” And then, impulsively I guess, he went further. “In fact, let me tell you something, Dick. When I met and fell in love with Ruth, I was a healthy, normal young male, twenty-six years old, off a dairy farm in North Carolina. We married, had beautiful children and have enjoyed so many years of happiness as a married couple. And I can tell you honestly, Dick, that I never had sex with anyone but Ruth, before, during, or since our wedding day.”

And the audience laughed!

I don’t mean they snickered; they laughed out loud, as if Billy had told a funny joke. And Dick just looked at the camera, shrugged as if to say “it takes all kinds,” and went to commercial.

I sang my song after the commercial break, and sat down next to a red-faced Billy Graham. He hadn’t expected that kind of reaction from the audience, and I imagine he was wondering if he should have been so forthcoming. And Dick started right out asking me, “Have you been listening to the conversation? Do you agree with these things Billy has been saying?”

I nodded and said, “Billy and I may not agree on every single thing, I don’t know; but I think I do know why you and the audience laughed when he said that about no sex outside marriage.”

And I heard the audience start tittering and getting ready for another joke. Another big laugh at the outdated notion of fidelity in marriage. But I went on: “This young audience, and you yourself Dick, applaud dedication and commitment in other areas of life. Business, sports, politics — all these things reward commitment. But in one of most important areas of life, marriage, commitment is considered funny.”

Nobody was laughing, not knowing quite how to react, so I went on. “But I’m just thinking about the one person in America tonight, in this vast viewing audience, who doesn’t find what Billy just said funny — Ruth Graham.”

He couldn’t think of anything to say but “I think it’s time for another commercial.” And Billy and I hugged after the show, feeling that God had set Dick and his audience up for a one-two punch. Billy dropped the first shoe, and I got to drop the second.

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