Apparently, it’s now scandalous to be careful about avoiding even the appearance of impropriety:
Recently, a Washington Post article about second lady Karen Pence has brought the Billy Graham Rule back into the public eye. The article cites a 2002 interview with Vice President Pence — who has called himself an “evangelical Catholic” — saying that he “never eats alone with a woman other than his wife,” and that he doesn’t attend events serving alcohol unless she is with him as well. This will, no doubt, sound strange to the uninitiated. The Onion parodied the story with the headline, “Mike Pence Asks Waiter To Remove Mrs. Butterworth From Table Until Wife Arrives.” It is strange, as are many religious practices, and strange isn’t necessarily bad.
The impulse that led to the Billy Graham Rule — which was actually a solidification of principles guarding against several kinds of temptation — is a good and honorable one: to remain faithful to one’s spouse and to avoid the kind of behavior (or rumors of behavior) that have destroyed the careers of church leaders.
So far, so good – the author of the article appears to understand the motivation. Then there’s the “but:”
…for men to categorically refuse to meet one-on-one with women is often dehumanizing and denies the image of Christ that each person bears.
The rule also promotes the preservation of men and exclusion of women in positions of leadership. If a woman at work cannot meet one-on-one with her boss or colleague, her options for advancement (or even being taken seriously as a colleague) are extremely limited.
The Billy Graham Rule also denies the reality of LGBT people. As a friend pointed out to me: Should a bisexual person refuse to ever be alone with anyone, full stop? Should a male pastor refuse to meet one-on-one with a gay man?…
Several female pastors I spoke with told me that they wouldn’t have a job if they abided by this rule because meeting one-on-one with men is part of what they have to do within their congregation.
There’s a lot to unpack here. First of all, I tip my hat to Mike Pence for being so consistent about this that it draws attention. But while the author makes a stab at seeming understanding, her real purpose is to taint the practice as somehow harmful and “unfair” (a favorite word on the Left).
As the author points out, the Christian belief system assumes “heteronormativity, furthering the idea that people who are LGBT are people “out there,” not an essential part of the church.” Well, yes. Those who believe in the Bible have to acknowledge its instruction that marriage is between a man and a woman, and anyone (not just the LGBT) who persists in sin is not an “essential part of the church.” Indeed, they may well be instead among those who on the last day will say “…’Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I (Jesus) declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”
Society today is structured to destroy the nuclear family and encourage sexual anarchy. Women began working outside the home in large numbers largely as a consequence of the labor demands of the First World War. Many returned home, especially during the unemployment of the Great Depression, but the Second World War cemented the practice of women punching the clock alongside men. With the near doubling of the labor force, wages were lowered by the law of supply and demand to the point that it’s difficult for one spouse to support the family anymore. Any honest observer of human behavior can understand how this encouraged the practice of taking ‘the long way home,’ to the detriment of families across the country. It’s not a coincidence that within a generation of World War Two, “no-fault divorce” became the standard for the country. The tie between spouses was not only subjected to temptation, but harmed by the social approval of being unfaithful to that commitment. Add in the influences of mandatory public schools and you can see how the family — God’s foundational unit for humanity — has been pulled apart in several directions.
Even before this transformation, pastors have had to be careful about the perils of developing any sort of relationship with a woman who is not their wife. Counseling, while an appropriate function, creates an emotional connection that contains the seeds of grief. The wise pastor finds ways to hold himself accountable through others, thus covering the blind spots each of us have. This is not, however, only applicable to pastors.
There are plenty of opportunities to mentor and educate a career woman that does not have to be in a setting where this particular temptation is present. So the idea that this is some method of the “patriarchy” maintaining its dominance (a dubious proposition anyway) is an unfounded one, and meant to distract from the real issue: that all of us are under the curse of sin, and have been instructed by God not to give it any quarter.
I didn’t know much about Mike Pence before the last election, and still haven’t read up much on him. But the fact the press is whining he’s giving them zero opportunity to even invent a scandal says a lot about his wisdom. May God continue to bless and protect him as he seeks to live “in the world, but not of it.” Christians in leadership positions are prime targets of the Enemy, who prowls around seeking whom he can devour. We need to pray for these, that God will make straight their paths, and that through them, His glory can be proclaimed.