Question: “Now Dr. C. you knew Betty two years before you married her?”
Dr. Criswell: “At least”
Question: “Did she have other boyfriends?”
Dr. Criswell: “Good night yes. Unspeakably so. Indescribably so. Unforgiveably so.”
Dr. Criswell: “You know how come my knowing her? I was raised out here you know. I never dreamed of a church such as they have over there east of the river. And in Kentucky it was an unwritten law that no female was ever to pray in public. I never heard of anything like that in my life.”
Mrs. Criswell: “You know that’s true”
Dr. Criswell: “So my introduction to Mt. Washington where she grew up, which was seventeen miles from the seminary, I was there first on Wednesday night, and I wanted to have a prayer meeting. I was going to speak and on and on, but I wanted to have a prayer meeting. So I had them bow their heads and I started with that woman there (pointing) and asked her to pray. Oh boy, she was insulted. Then I asked her to pray, the next one. Same thing. Asked her to pray. Asked her to pray. I went clear through the front row.
Mrs. Criswell: “You would think anybody would know better than to keep on and on . .”
Dr. Criswell: "Well I just did. I had never heard of anything such as no woman was allowed to pray in public. So when I got through the first row I started on the second one here. And then I asked that woman to pray. “No.” And the next one, and the next one. And finally I got to that girl (pointing) – later Bessie Marie Harris – and I got to her. And I asked her to pray."
"And she did. That’s the first time I ever saw her and the first time I had ever heard of her. And I said, ‘How in the earth is it that all the women refused and when I got to you, why you led in the prayer?' And she said, 'I just got full of pity for you, so when you got to me I just decided I was going to pray."
"Well that was my introduction to Bessie Marie Harris."
Question: "Well now she must have just been awestruck with you from the beginning."
Dr. Criswell: “Good night no.”
Mrs. Criswell: "This wild wind from Texas we’ve never seen in Kentucky. All our preachers were nice and quiet. We started home after the service and I said, “I hope I never see that man again.” My mother said, "We’ll I hope we do he’s the only right thing that’s come into this land in memory."
I love this story.
May the Wally Amos Criswells in our convention increase. May we constantly challenge unwritten and unspoken rules that we don’t find in Scripture. May we persevere when all we hear are naysayers. May the world around us change because we stand alone against tradition and emphasis the freedom and liberty found in God’s Word.
In His Grace,