Billy Graham, in his syndicated column, received this question:
DEAR DR. GRAHAM: Our 17-year-old daughter says she doesn’t believe in God anymore, and now she even refuses to go to church with us. When we try to talk with her about it we just end up in an argument. What can we do? — Mrs. S.McD.
Despite the fact that I agree with the daughter and not her parents, I actually don’t mind Graham’s answer that much, at least when compared to what others in his position may have said.
The most important thing you can do is to pray for her — because only God can overcome her spiritual resistance and draw her back to Himself…
But you also can let her know you that love her, despite your differences — and by doing so, you’ll be showing her that God loves her also. Don’t let your discussions degenerate into arguments; this will only make her more determined to keep her position. In other words, don’t let this become a test of wills between you — your will battling against her will — because almost the last thing she wants to do right now is admit she is wrong…
Of course, she’s not wrong. By going against what she was raised to believe, she’s probably quite intelligent.
But what is Graham saying?
Pray for her — we know that won’t achieve anything tangible, but it won’t hurt the daughter.
Show her you love her — which is exactly what she needs.
It’s much better than a few other alternatives we’ve heard before: Make her talk to a pastor, send her to a “Jesus Camp”-like place, try to argue with her, etc.
Not surprisingly, Graham thinks the daughter is an atheist because she “wants to run her own life — and that’s far easier to do if you push God out of your life” rather than the fact that atheism’s just a more honest depiction of reality. But I doubt anyone would expect him to say otherwise.