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The Family Is God's Idea: An Interview with Dr. James Dobson

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
October 10, 2020 3:00 am

The Family Is God's Idea: An Interview with Dr. James Dobson

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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October 10, 2020 3:00 am

In this interview, Greg Laurie sits down with the famed author, speaker, and psychologist Dr. James Dobson. 

Dr. Dobson is the founder of Focus on the Family and Family Talk; both are nationally syndicated radio programs heard by millions. Dobson is well known for his books, such as Bringing Up Boys, The Strong-Willed Child, and Dare to Discipline. Dr. Dobson is also well known for his interview with serial killer Ted Bundy on the eve of Bundy’s execution. In this wide-ranging interview, Pastor Greg and Dr. Dobson discuss Dobson’s life from childhood to marriage, as well as how to raise a family with godly intentions and how to raise children with Heaven in mind.


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Hey everybody, Greg Laurie here. You're listening to the Greg Laurie Podcast and my objective is to deliver, hopefully, compelling practical insights in faith, culture, and current events from a biblical perspective. To find out more about our ministry, just go to our website,

So thanks for joining me for this podcast. James Dobson is here. To say that Dr. James Dobson is one of the most influential leaders in the world of evangelicalism is an understatement. Really, I would say he's a living legend and a man of God that I've had the privilege of getting to know personally. And I can tell you that the private Dr. Dobson is the same as the public Dr. Dobson.

And I'll refer to him as Jim because he's asked me to do that. Because I always call him Dr. Dobson so they call me Jim. But let me tell you a little bit about his background. He was born on April 21st in 1936 in Shreveport, Louisiana. He earned a PhD in child development at USC. He was associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the USC School of Medicine for 14 years.

He spent 17 years on the staff of the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles and the Division of Child Development and Medical Genetics. And then he has also served on multiple government advisory panels and testified at government hearings as well. Dr. Dobson, he has not been elected president yet, but maybe that's not a bad idea. I think he'd be a good president, don't you?

Has a nice ring. He's had a close relationship with many of our presidents, including President Reagan and President Bush I and President Bush II. And he is also the author of many books, 36 in total, including Dare to Discipline, Bringing Up Boys, Bringing Up Girls, The Strong-Willed Child, What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew About Women, When God Doesn't Make Sense, and many more. And his brand new book that is coming out soon is Your Legacy, The Greatest Gift.

And we're going to talk about this in a few moments. But on a personal note, I first met Dr. Dobson back in 1995 when we did a crusade in Colorado Springs where Focus on the Family is located. And as the years have gone by, we've talked here and there, but his son, Ryan, became close friends with our son Christopher.

In fact, they both went to Biola together. And when the Lord called our son home, Ryan contacted us and asked if I'd like to speak with his father. And so after Christopher had died, we were on the phone for a long time with Dr. Dobson, my wife, myself, our daughter-in-law, Brittany. And that same voice that has brought comfort to millions around the world was there for us, just as though the way you hear him, that's the way we heard him. And he was there at a very important time in our life. And he's been, for many of us there, at a very important time in our life and has influenced us and helped us to raise our children and tell us how to have stronger families. And he's been an advocate for so many important issues that we hold dear, including the sanctity of life and the real biblical definition of marriage. And we're thankful for his courage. So with that being said, let's give a warm Harvest welcome to Dr. James Dobson.

What a great crowd. Well, they're excited to see you here. How are you feeling today? I'm feeling fine. Well, you know, Jim, and you've told me I can call you Jim, right? Absolutely. How would you feel if I started calling you Dr. J?

Would you be okay with that? Well, Jim, you know, you're known for your advice and your counsel and your teaching on the subject of the family, but I think people would be very surprised to know about your family. Your father and mother, your father, James Sr., your mother, Myrtle, raised you. You were an only child. But your father, a very talented artist and also an itinerant evangelist, so he was gone a lot of the time. And so you spent time on your own and you even spent a year in the care of your great aunt. How did that affect you? And tell me a little bit about your childhood. Well, it was very difficult, Greg. First of all, I was an only child because my mother couldn't have any more children. She had a bone structure that did not allow her to have children.

They told her that she should not have any children. And my dad came to my mother and said, I've been praying about this, and the Lord told me you're going to have a son. They've got a picture of you and your super cool ride there.

That is one hot looking little car. Isn't that neat? Well, I had a very close family. I don't want to imply that there was any lack of commitment there, but my dad was committed also to evangelism.

I mean, that was the passion of his life. And before I got in school, I just traveled with him. And then when it was time to go to school, everyone was not homeschooling at that time. And they didn't know what to do with me because my dad needed my mother. And so I stayed with my great aunt when I was in the first grade and part of the second. And my dad and mom would come back every six weeks or so to see me. And it was very difficult.

I felt abandoned. And my dad saw it. And he came home on one of those occasions and he said, Jimmy is becoming more like his great aunt than he is us.

And we cannot do that to him. And so he bought a house. My mother stayed with me until I was out of high school. He made an unbelievable sacrifice because he was very close to my mother and needed her.

But he gave me priority. And when he would come home then, he was mine. And so we had a very close family. Now, there's a book about your life, a biography called Family Man. And in that book it mentions that your father's greatest passion was winning people to Christ.

What is your greatest passion? Well, it's the same passion, Greg, but it is through the family. The family is like the red blood cell in the body.

It carries a globule of oxygen. And the family carries the oxygen of the body, the oxygen to the body, having to do with the gospel. And so that is what I'm trying to do is to use the family, strengthen the family, support the family, and therefore pass on the gospel of Jesus Christ to others. Your father's ministry was not widely known except through your mentioning of him. And one day the Lord spoke to your father. And this is also in your book or in the book about your life, Family Man. And the Lord spoke to him and your father was not one to say the Lord spoke to me all the time. So when he said it, it carried weight. And the Lord spoke to your father, James Sr., and said to him, You're going to reach thousands of people, perhaps millions, from coast to coast and around the world, but it isn't going to be through you, it's going to be through your son.

That would be you. And so you heard that later in life, didn't you? That was one of the most dramatic events in my life. My father was a praying man. He prayed sometimes three and four hours a day. I mean, he was known in his town as the man who had no leather on the toes of his shoes because he spent so much time on his knees.

He wore out the toes before he did the soles. And he was such a good, godly man. And toward the end of his life, he'd had a heart attack. His brother-in-law had cancer and he was a minister too. And my dad was determined that God was going to give them more time to win soles. And so he had been praying for three days and three nights without stopping about that, about giving them an opportunity to continue to minister. And about five o'clock that morning, the Lord spoke to him and said, I've heard your prayer. I know your passion. You want to serve me. And I'm going to answer it.

You're going to reach millions of people around the world, but it's not going to be through you. My dad, my uncle died that day. And my father had a heart attack the next day from which he never recovered. And he wasn't able to tell me that story. And I didn't find out about it for seven years.

Unbelievable. In your biography, you're quoted to say, the two most important things to you are, number one, ensuring that your loved ones get to heaven, your family and your loved ones. And number two, living the best possible Christian life. Why is that important to you?

Greg, why is it important to all of us? I mean, what else is there? What can compete with that? That's true.

Becoming famous, getting a lot of money, having buildings with your name on them, being a great artist, being a great musician of water. What else comes close to this task? And if you don't get it done with regard to your children, you'll never see them again.

If that won't motivate you to give priority to your children, I really don't know what will. That's right. You know, you can hardly think of the name Jim Dobson without thinking of Shirley Dobson. There's just certain names that go together, you know, Ron and Nancy Reagan, Billy and Ruth Graham, Jim and Shirley Dobson. And your story of how you met your wife-to-be is a classic American love story. Here's a great photo of you back then and more recently. And your wife was the homecoming queen. You were the captain of the tennis team. And so you met for the first time on your college campus and you were in your tennis outfit, probably on your way to practice. Do you remember the first thing that Shirley said to you when she saw you?

Well, it tells you a lot about Shirley because, first of all, she's got a great sense of humor, but she's also very feisty. And that's what I fell in love with. And that little flirt walked up to me and she said, hi, legs. Hi, legs. And I thought, man, anybody who likes my legs can't be all bad. And back in those days, shorts were shorter, weren't they?

Oh, yeah, they were. So there was more legs showing. But there was a sequel to that because several days later I figured I get to know this girl that has come up there and said that to me. And she was standing out on campus after dinner one night and I walked up to her and I had a nickel and I was flipping it in the air. And I said, I tell you what, Shirley, I'd like to flip this nickel and if I can call it heads or tails, I will win a hamburger. And you buy me a hamburger.

And she said, well, I'll take you up on that. I mean, it's brilliant. Brilliant. I win both ways. That's true. I get a hamburger or I get a date or both.

That's right. Win-win. So I flipped it and I won. And she said, oh, no, oh, no, you're going double or nothing. So I went double or nothing, I won again. And I had two hamburgers.

Things are going in the right direction. And I flipped it again, I won again. I won 32 hamburgers standing up there. She's been frying them ever since. You know, Shirley, her maiden name was Dear. Didn't you write a poem for her?

Well, when she was writing for Homecoming Queen, I had graduated by then and she asked me to come back and be her campaign manager. And so I thought, how can I draw attention to this? So there was a little path on campus where everybody had to go. At one time or another, everybody went by that moment, that place. And so I made a poster and I wrote a poem. And it said, a hundred years ago today, a wilderness was here.

A man with powder in his gun went forth to hunt a deer. But now that things have changed somewhat, a school has been erected and a deer with powder on her nose goes forth to be elected. Very good. And she won. She won. She won. She won because of me.

Yeah, because of you. Now, Jim, Shirley had a rough childhood. Her parents divorced, she was raised in an, I think her father was an alcoholic.

And so when you were going out together, before you were married, you made a commitment to her. You said, I want you to know, will you tell me what you said? Instead of me reading it, what did you say to Shirley? People here who have experienced alcoholism in the family know there's shame associated with that. You don't want anybody to know it.

And so everybody hides it. And Shirley felt that way. They lived in very squalid circumstances. Tiny little shotgun house and her mother had to work in a cannery in the middle of the night to support Shirley and her brother. So it was not easy and it's amazing that Shirley got on her knees at six, seven, eight, nine years of age and prayed for her future husband. She was praying for me.

She didn't know me and we didn't meet until we were in college. But that little kid was talking to the Lord. She had nothing to give him. She didn't have any money.

She had no influence. She had nothing, but he heard her and answered her prayer. So we went together for three or four months through a summer before I knew that she had had a tough childhood. She had not shared it with me. She was afraid to tell me. And then one night she said to me, I've really got something that you need to know. And she told me about her childhood. And rather than leaving her, my response was, Shirley, my purpose, if we are to live together and marry and be together the rest of our lives, this came a little later, that I want to make up to you for what you've lost and for what you experienced. And that's been sort of the goal of my life, to take care of her and to love her. Is that something that every Christian husband should do, do you think?

That's great. I think that's one of the roles that God has given to men. It is, in fact, there are five elements to it. There is respect. A woman deserves respect. Not only the husband for his wife, but for women. And to protect. I wanted to protect Shirley from this pain. And to provide for and to provide leadership for, I believe that's a godly role.

That's right. And to then provide leadership for the rest of the family. I think that that is what God calls us to do.

And if you think about it, when you have a boy and you're trying to train him to be a godly man, you start with those. You say, first of all, you take a girl out for a date. You pay that bill. This is your responsibility. Right, ladies? I thought there would be a standing ovation. Disappointed.

And this may surprise you, too. Your job is to protect her, to get her home safely. And as a symbol of that, I think the guy should walk on the street side when he is with her.

It's a way of saying, I am responsible for you. And then, of course, to live a moral and godly life before her. And to serve her in servant leadership.

If you want to teach a boy to be a man, that's where you start with those responsibilities. Well, this passion that you have for the family that started with your own marriage has continued on. Now, you were over there at USC in the School of Medicine. And you had a very productive career and actually started your ministry a bit later in life, didn't you? Because you felt directed, obviously, by the Lord to make this the focus of your life and ministry. Do you remember the name of Dr. Clyde Naramore?

Of course. He had a great influence on me. And he gave a speech one time and said, if there are promising students out there who would like to go into this field, I will meet with them.

And my aunt heard it and told me about it. I went to meet with him. I spent an afternoon with him and he laid my life out for me. And he said, you're going to need a PhD. And if you do that, don't get married too soon. And he gave me very specific advice. And that's what I did. And that's why I came into my professional life a little bit later. But you got married a little sooner than he told you to, though, right? No, I was pretty much on target.

I followed those rules. You know, the Lord was in that. I just looked back on it. Of course, my mom and dad were praying for me. The night that I went over to SC to matriculate and register, I was scared because you're always scared when you have 30,000 students there. And I was standing in this long line waiting to register. And a man that had gone to my college, he was two years older than me, had already gotten his PhD and was a professor there. And he came over to me and he said, now, you know, I not only know you, but I believe in you. And come on up to my office, took me out of line up to the office and said, I will be your advisor.

We're going to do this thing together. I never had any disrespect for my Christian faith at USC. And he told me every class to take.

I mean, it's just amazing what happened there. Now, you went on to found focus on the family in 1977. Your radio broadcast was heard on over 7,000 stations worldwide, heard by more than 220 million people in 164 countries. Since then, you've gone on to found your ministry family talk now. And so your father's word about you influencing many really turned out to be true, didn't it? It really did. And I told you I didn't know about it until seven years later.

I was on the gambling commission at that time. It was the hardest, most difficult, most nasty, terrible assignment I've ever had. Eighteen months of seeing stuff that's just, I mean, people think of pornography as being airbrushed, nudity and so on. I mean, it is wretched stuff.

It was then, it's worse today. And I was running focus on the family and I was advising President Reagan and the others and I got tired. That people think that those who are in ministry, yourself included, are driven by ego needs that forces them to do what they do.

It is not true. I contemplated, I was asking the Lord, how long can I do this? Because I was really worn out. And I got a letter from my aunt, is the one that my dad had told about that prayer. And she laid it out for me and her last line is, the end is not yet. And so far the end is not yet for what I'm doing now. That's right.

Not at all. Greg, I left USC. That was a plum of a position. I was doing what I loved, what I was trained for. I was doing research and I think we were accomplishing a lot.

I was director of a national study in 15 major medical centers of a disorder called phenylketonuria. And I could have enjoyed staying there, but I saw the family unraveling. I don't want to sound like Father Time here, but I saw where we are today. I recognized what abortion was going to mean and what the assault on the definition of marriage was going to be. And what the attack on righteousness was going to be. And I just felt the Lord put his hand in my back and say, you need to do what you can. And so I walked out of there and started this little two room office. I didn't know where it was going or what would happen.

But that was a major turning point for me. You know, it's been said that a family can survive without a nation, but the nation cannot survive without the family. The family is so important to you. It's so important to our country. Just very quickly, define what the family is.

We hear that word a lot. What is the family? Well, it's defined in Genesis, Genesis 2 24, when it says, for this cause, a man shall leave his mother and father and leave to his wife.

His wife. And the two shall be one flesh. That's the beginning of the family, the beginning of marriage. It was not man's idea, it was God's idea.

That attraction between men and women has characterized the basic social unit in every continent. It's not just a Christian thing. In fact, it wasn't Christian.

Christ hadn't come yet. But it was divinely inspired and it is the ground floor. It's the foundation. Everything sits on it.

Everything. Our institutions, our government, our way of life, everything rests on that foundation. And if you undermine it and you weaken it and you redefine it and you tear into its fabric, the whole superstructure could come down. And that's what's happened in other civilization that's going to happen to us if we're foolish enough to walk away from it. Yes.

That's right. You know, the breakdown of the families you've been talking about is at the root of so many social ills, so many problems in our culture today. And specifically, the lack of fathers. You know, a lot of studies have been done and they found that, for instance, 63% of teenagers who attempt suicide come from fatherless homes. A child that is from a fatherless home is 68% more likely to use drugs or alcohol, more likely to become sexually active at an early age, three times more likely to commit a violent crime, 71% of high school dropouts from fatherless homes, 90% of all homeless and runaway children from fatherless homes.

And it just goes on and on. Why is fatherlessness at the root of so many of our nation's problems? Because of the role that fathers are supposed to play. On the statistics that you just listed with regard to them, more than 70% of African-American babies are born out of wedlock. Then you add divorce to that and other things that take fathers out of the home and the stupidity, the foolishness of the late 60s when they decided that if a man stays in the home, the family is not supported by the government. They destroyed the black family. And it is reeling now.

And take a look at what inner-city life is like without this leadership. You know, when you don't have a man to teach a boy what it means to be a man. And I'll tell you something else. Girls need their dads as much as boys do.

And we're going to be... We're going to be talking about this tonight. I want to talk about what it means to teach a boy what it means to be a boy. He doesn't know when he's born. That's not something that's automatic. It has to be taught. And if you have a single mother and the husband's gone and his influence is not there, you've got to find a substitute for him. Because a woman is not equipped to teach a boy how to be a man. That has to come from a man.

So when that is torn down, then the consequences throughout the culture are really terrible. You wrote a book, What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew About Women. What are some of the things husbands need to know about women? How much time do you have?

Oh my. Give us maybe three points. Let me give you one. If men are together and they are talking and discussing what they care about, they talk about their work. They talk about what they've accomplished. Well, you know, we're building this new complex here and we have invested this and they talk about those things because that's how men develop self-worth. It's that they've done something with their lives. I'm that way.

You're that way. I think men are that way. Women, by contrast, draw their self-worth from relationships, from romantic love, from being loved and being cared for.

And that's something that men frequently don't know about women. Well, why is she complaining? I know I'm working long hours, but I'm doing it for her. Well, take another look, brother, because she needs something else from you.

She needs your love, your attention, your time. So I talked about that and what wives with their husbands knew about women. By the way, by the way, I just released that book.

It's a long time ago. I just released it and I was going to speak on it. I had a bunch of pastors there and the guy who introduced me came to the microphone and said that I was the author of the brand new book, What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew About Other Women.

That wasn't what I had in mind. That book might sell though, you know. Now you're well known for your book Dare to Discipline. How many of you have read Dare to Discipline?

Yeah, look at that, lots of them. In fact, there's a boy who was in college who wrote you a poem once and in his poem he said, Roses are red, violets are blue. When I was a kid, I got spanked because of you. And I was that boy.

No, I'm not kidding. I'm a little too old for that. There's a whole generation that would like to catch me in a blind alley. So, in this book that you've written about disciplining the children, address that today because it seems like we're in a time where you don't see a lot of discipline. Not even a sense of what is right and what is wrong in our culture. Why is discipline important in the lives of our children? Well, just look around. What happens in airports and in schools and in public, you see that parents have no idea how to deal with those kids.

You've got two, three, four year old kids who are already in charge at home because they've been taught not to confront and not to discipline. But the scripture tells us otherwise. I thought you might ask me about that. So, Hebrews 12, 7. Do you mind me reading? No, please.

Okay. It is for discipline that you endure. God deals with you as with sons. For what son is there whom his father did not discipline?

That was then, not now. But if you are without discipline of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. There's three more verses there that describe the need for discipline. A child feels like he doesn't belong if he challenges the authority at the home and nobody has the courage to confront him or to lead him.

He's got sense enough to know that's not right. And you damage a child if you don't take charge. Discipline is necessary. I was raised without a father. My mom was an alcoholic. I had no discipline in my life.

You know what I was talking about a few minutes ago. Well, sure. I know it all from personal experience. And I was a problem in school. But I was sent to military school for a short time. And they applied discipline.

And it's funny. I went from being a delinquent to being on the honor roll when I had structure. And as soon as I got out of the structure, I went back to my old ways again.

I needed that structure. And I think it's comforting because as you just read in that scripture, whom the Lord loves he disciplines. It's not because he hates us. It's because he loves us. And it's a sign that God cares about you to give you that reinforcement of what is right and what is wrong. It finishes that scripture saying it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness.

Discipline leads to righteousness. In the heyday of the progressive education movement, some of the educators began thinking, John Dewey and others, that they needed to take down the fences that were around the playground. Because kids were afraid. They wanted freedom. They didn't want to be hemmed in. So they took them down and the kids huddled around the center of the room. They wanted that protection.

They wanted it. Can you imagine riding in a car over Royal Gorge if you've ever been there in Colorado? And it's scary. It looks like forever below you there. And if those guard rails were not there, you would move toward the center.

Those guard rails bring security. That's what a child wants. We have a little bunny rabbit. My granddaughters have him. His name is Fuzzy.

They named him. And they take him out and play with him. My granddaughter, Allie, kind of manhandled him a little bit. Girl handled him, I think you might say, at first. And now she's better with him. And now our grandson, Christopher, he'll sometimes pick Fuzzy up by the head.

We know Christopher's support is bottom. And so after they're done playing with this rabbit, when I take him back to his cage, he leaps out of my arms to get in the cage. It's like, let me get in the cage. Because when he's in the cage, he's secure and the bars are keeping the grandkids out. So there's security there. And God has given us absolutes and parameters.

They could seem like bars, but we could also think of them as walls to keep evil out and to protect us from evil. Well, my dad would have said, that'll preach. That'll preach. That's a message that comes right out of reality today. So when you think about marriages, here's someone listening and maybe their marriage is strong, maybe their marriage is struggling, maybe they've been divorced or they're even contemplating divorce.

Do you think there's anything we can do to effectively, maybe not guaranteed, but would give us a better chance of making it in the years ahead? In other words, is there a way to divorce-proof a marriage? Not in this culture because it's working against us. It's working against your kids, too.

The culture's at war with the family. So you can't guarantee it, but the best glue to hold a family together is commitment. You just decide.

I mean, it never enters your mind or your thoughts or your words. This is for life. This is the way it's intended. You know, I was fishing with my father-in-law not long ago and we each had a little rowboat and we were on a choppy lake and we were rowing along there together. And then the fish started biting and our tension was drawn away from staying together. And we wound up with one on the east shore and one on the west shore. And it was the same lake, same wind, same influences, but when we quit rowing, we drifted apart. And marriage is like that.

How do you stay together? You row like crazy. And don't stop. That's good advice. Craig, that'll preach. That'll preach, yes. So here's a single mother wrote this question, and I'm a single mother of two.

I'm trying to raise my children in the way of the Lord. What advice would you give me? Single mom, two kids, no dad.

Well, I addressed it a little earlier. You find a substitute. You've got to have a man that's involved there. And in this day and age, you have to be really careful because of the exploitation, sexual exploitation of children. But a coach, an uncle, a grandfather, a youth pastor.

And all those on occasions have done the unthinkable, so you have to keep a real close eye on it. But you need somebody, you know, go to a good high school with a straight A student and rent a teenager for, you know, a period of time to show a boy how to throw a ball and how to be a boy. When I was being raised, you know, my mom was gone most of the time, so I would go out and get my own food every night at the restaurant. And I always ordered the same thing, a hamburger, french fries, and a vanilla malt. And all my friends envied me because I didn't have to go home at night and eat dinner. I could eat what I wanted, when I wanted.

Hamburger, fries, vanilla malt. After about doing that for about six months, I got tired of it and started going over to my friend's house where there was a mom and a dad and sat down for a family meal because I wanted that structure. So maybe you don't have that structure, but maybe there's another place where that structure could be because it could be modeled for them to see what a family should be and even better, what a Christian family should be. The other side of that is that the family that has it together, not perfect but is really making it work, needs to bring those kids in because they've never seen it. Shirley, when her family was all torn up, was invited by church people over to the house of friends and was shocked to find out that after breakfast on Saturday morning that the father came and prayed with everybody. She had never seen that happen before. It made an impact on her. She said, I want that. And we need to also do some teaching when we have an opportunity to tell others about him.

That's right. So you've been a friend of presidents, President Reagan, President H.W. Bush, President George W. Bush. Tell us a little bit about President Reagan and what it was like to get to know him and spend time in the Oval Office. What's it like to walk for the first time into the Oval Office? It's awe-inspiring because you just think of Lincoln and Roosevelt and all the people who lived and worked in that place. And it's dangerous too because your eyes spin. And it was Chuck Colson who said that the lions of the waiting room become the lambs of the Oval Office once you get in the presence of power.

And you have to be aware that that's happening to you because you can be corrupted very easily. Thankfully, the people I was working with were not there to do that. Ronald Reagan was a great man. I mean, he was a great man.

Can I tell you how I met him? It was 1981 and he was about to be inaugurated. And I got invited to come and bring six friends with me to the inauguration. And awe, we were excited about that.

The new beginning. It was, you know, there was just so much excitement in the country and Reagan was coming in. And I just wanted to catch a glimpse of him.

I mean, that's what everybody in Washington was trying to do, to see him go buy a car or something. And we were there for the inaugural speech and all that. And then invited to the inaugural ball. And that night, we knew there were nine of them.

And we were at the Smithsonian and so that was the ninth inaugural ball of that night. And so we had to wait. And it was jammed.

You could not move. There were people just, you know, shoulder to shoulder. And we had been there for three, four hours waiting for him. And we looked at our watches and said, you know, it's nearly midnight.

He's got to be coming soon. So after he leaves, everybody's going to be trying to get their coats. It's very cold. And so let's go get our coats so that we're ready to go. So a couple of us went to get our coats. And we were walking back. We had our coats over our arm. And doors swung open. And Secret Service men, who looked very much, I'm 6'2", and my friend was 6'5", and we had on tuxes. We looked like them.

And they came in and ran into a stairwell. I looked at my friend. He looked at me.

I said, why not? We ran with them. And we went up the next step to the second floor and opened the door and walked straight into Ronald Reagan.

I was three feet away from him. And, you know, Secret Service never looks behind. They look ahead.

They never turn around and see who was following them. And we're there. And so they have this cordoned off area of blue uniformed police to the platform where Nancy and Ronald Reagan were going to go up and speak and dance. And it was just about three foot wide.

And then all these sea of people. And they started down that cordoned off area. I looked at my friend. He looked at me.

And I said, why not? We walked with them. We followed him three feet behind.

And everybody thought we were Secret Service. And we walked to the platform. And then they went up and I looked at my friend. He looked at me.

And I said, no. So the Secret Service was looking down at us and all of a sudden they realized we didn't belong there. We were right here.

And they didn't know what was under those coats. And they panicked. And they came running down, pushed me in the back and said, get out of here. And we decided we should. And we went back. And then he came down and walked right into us. And three years later I was sitting beside him in the Oval Office talking to him about the family. When you first came to talk to him, did he say, I thought you were in the Secret Service? You know, I was told that there was a lot of scrambling in the White House to figure out who those two guys were. So your wife has been leading the National Day of Prayer now in Washington, D.C. for how many years?

This is the 24th year. She agreed to do this. Fantastic. She does a great job, too. She agreed to do this for two years. There she is with President Bush.

Yeah, there she is coming into the East Room with me trailing along behind. Now, were you working at Secret Service that day or were you being Dr. Dobson? I don't know, but they were worried about me, I think. During the Bush administration, he was there, of course, eight years. And he had a prayer service all eight years. And sometimes it was very hard for him. The year that he went out to fly the plane out to Abraham Lincoln, remember that? That was a busy, busy day for him.

And his staff came and said, you do not have time to have a National Day of Prayer. He said, this is priority. And so he had an event there and Shirley spoke at all eight of those. She's done a great job. I'm really proud of her.

She really has. OK, so let's shift gears as we come to the end of this interview and let's ask you some personal questions. Dr. James Dobson, what is your favorite kind of music? You don't really want me to answer that. I really want you to answer it. I'm going to disillusion everybody here. Or they'll be happy to hear it. I'm a Beatles fan.

I like that. I have no illusions about the Beatles. They had a horrible impact on society, on young people.

They really did. But their music was good. They're evil men.

They really were evil men. But you like their music. I like their music. You wonder what the Beatles would have said. We hear that Dr. Dobson likes to listen to our music, you know. It's lovely, isn't it?

Lovely. OK, so you like Beatles music. What's your favorite song?

Well, it would come out of that. Obviously, I think Yesterday, probably the song Yesterday or Eleanor Rigby or all of those classics. I didn't like it when they got crazy. Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away.

I have to tell you that we're running out of time. I went to a concert by Arthur Fiedler and Boston Pops. This was American Academy of Pediatrics in Boston. The first half of the program was Brahms, Beethoven and Mozart.

After intermission, Arthur Fiedler came out. He said, you're probably not going to agree with this, but the music you're about to hear now from the Beatles rank with those other composers. And that took everybody's breath away. It was not about the words or lyrics, it was about the music.

And he said that it is really classic and unlike anything else anybody has done. I remember when I came to your radio program a while back in Colorado Springs, I sat at lunch with you and your wife, Shirley, and then Dine, your daughter, and Ryan, your son. And we're having a meal and we got into this conversation about the Beatles.

That's when I first found out you liked them. And then we were talking, you asked the question, do you think the song Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds was about LSD or about a child's drawing that was brought home to John? And we talked about that a little bit and I just thought, what a surreal conversation. I can't believe I'm talking to James Dobson about this, but kind of shifting gears now. Looking back over your life, what has been the greatest regret of your life? There have been some significant ones. Agreeing to come here today?

Yeah, well, I gave that a lot of thought. No, I made a huge mistake one time. I was at Children's Hospital and a young woman wanted to see me professionally and she came in and she had a two-year-old who had been born out of wedlock. She was struggling as a single mother and she was pregnant again. And she came to tell me that she was going to abort the baby. And I did everything I could to talk her out of that. I gave the whole pro-life message and she said, no, I've already got one child I can't take care of and I'm going to have another. And so then she told me, in fact, I have an appointment at one of the hospitals in town.

Will you take me there? And I drove her there and let her out. And I've had that on my conscience ever since.

That would rank very high. I'm disappointed with myself. You're very passionate about the pro-life position, about the sanctity of life, about protecting the lives of innocent children still in the womb. I mean, I was conceived out of wedlock. I could have been an abortion statistic. Thankfully, my mom carried me to term.

And really, there's no illegitimate children, maybe illegitimate parents, but every child is legitimate in the eyes of God and God loves them and has a plan for their life, doesn't he? Yeah, absolutely. You know, I was asked to speak this year at the Walk for Life in Washington, D.C. and I met seven young women there who have an organization. Every one of them was conceived by rape. Oh, wow. Isn't that incredible?

We're going to have them on the radio. But that conversation with regard to the young woman I talked to who had an abortion has another sequel to that. A couple came to see me because the wife had had abdominal problems and they didn't know what was wrong with her and they did x-rays on her.

They wouldn't do that today. They would do MRIs or CAT scans. But they did the x-rays and found out she was pregnant. And they told her, you must abort because this child could be mentally retarded, could be blind, could be deaf, could be distorted in many ways. You can't allow that baby to be born. So they came to see me and they said, what would you do?

And I said, this is obviously not an easy decision for you to make. And it wouldn't be for me. But I would let the baby live and leave it up to God.

And the consequences may be everything they say. I'm not contradicting that. And they let that baby live and the most beautiful baby girl was born. She's now 34 years old and has been a blessing to everybody. I agree.

Tim Tebow's mother was told to abort her child because she would die if she gave birth to him and she decided to give birth and of course he's a strapping young man, a great quarterback and even better than that, a committed follower of Jesus Christ. So you never know. Just do what is right. Let God be God.

Let God be God. Well, you know, we're really at the end of our time. So I'm going to ask you just a few little quick questions. Maybe you could give me short answers if you wouldn't mind. Do you say quick or trick? Maybe a little of both. Maybe a little of both. What makes you angry? What makes me angry is when I see the media and the culture trying to twist and warp the minds of children who are too young to know better. Yes.

I agree. What makes you laugh? What do you laugh at? Shirley makes me laugh. She's got a great sense of humor. We laugh a lot. What's your favorite color?

Dr. James Dobson. Oh, that's a consequential question. Yes. Blue. There it is.

We've got blue right behind you. And if you were going to give one last talk, you knew that you could only speak one last time, what would you talk about? I would talk about the theme of that book, which is winning your children to Christ. I've written 35 books or so and all of them point toward this one way or the other.

That's the capstone of my professional life. If you could ask God one question, what would it be? Why?

Why what? Yeah. Why, indeed, there's so many questions you can't answer. That's right. Jesus asked it.

Yeah. Jesus said that ought to bring comfort to those who say, why would you do this to me? Jesus asked the same question. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Yeah, and why is such a relevant question because God never answers it.

He will not be accountable to man. Years ago, years ago, I had the opportunity to have lunch with Billy Graham and I asked Billy the question, Billy, if an older Billy could speak to a younger Billy, what advice would you give yourself? And Billy said, I would tell myself to preach more on the cross than the blood of Christ because that's what the power is. I posed the same question to Pastor Chuck Smith, who's now in heaven, and I said, if an older Chuck could speak to a younger Chuck, what would he say to? What would you say to yourself? And he said, I would tell the younger Chuck, hold the course.

What would an older James Dobson say to that young boy that we saw there in that little car and then as you got older, what would you say, here's what I've learned in life. Here's what you need to know. Two words. Finish strong.

We see the patriarchs of the Bible, Samson, Solomon, David, so many of them, Hezekiah, who lived a godly life and then fell. That's right. And I realize it could still happen to me. Finish strong.

Yes. That's so true. Dr. Dobson, you've been a great representative of us and a great example to us, and we want to thank you for your faithfulness to the Lord, your personal integrity, your love for your wife, for your children, and the stand you've made in our culture. You're one of our heroes, and so we want you to know that we love you and appreciate you. I appreciate it. I appreciate it. Thank you.

Dr. James Dobson. Thank you. Thank you for being a part of the conversation. You're a part of our community. I appreciate it. Mike Miller.

Mike Miller. Thanks for being a part of it. Thanks for being a part of the conversation. Thanks.

Thanks for being part of us. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-05 21:53:15 / 2024-02-05 22:14:11 / 21

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