May Both Men and Women Always Find a Friend in Me and You

The first pic from the James Webb incredible telescope.James Webb/NASA

“Friendship… is born at the moment when one man says to another ‘What! You too? I thought that no one but myself…'”— C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves.


The Matt Chandler Village Church mess has caused some consternation in evangelical circles. Some are concerned that a message is being conveyed that friendships between men and women will lead to problems of the sexual kind and that we must stick to the now infamous Billy Graham rule. Others like Aimee Byrd and Karen Swallow Prior believe, as I do, that friendships between men and women are not only possible but are essential and imperative.

As Christians, we look forward to eternity in heaven. Since we will be spending with one another there, perhaps we should practice spending time with one another here. Aimee Byrd wrote a book that made her the subject of critique called Why Can’t We Be Friends?: Avoidance Is Not Purity.

In Religion News Services, Karen Swallow Prior recently wrote The scandal of evangelical Christian friendship. She recalled an experience where an older woman who participated in a conference needed a ride to the airport. A young man had been tasked to drive the participants. He refused to escort her since he would be “alone with her,” and he followed the Billy Graham rule. I remember getting into an elevator in a ministry building, and a guy I knew immediately jumped out of the elevator. I giggled because I knew he was one of those “Billy Graham rule keepers. Poor guy. He should have been more afraid of my writing platform. 😎

On the one hand, Christians believe in and celebrate the createdness and goodness of our sexed bodies (and all that is inherent in being created male or female). To ignore this physical aspect of our being is to deny reality and slip toward Gnosticism.

On the other hand, Scripture instructs believers who are not married to each other to treat one another as brothers and sisters. This is a weighty command with serious moral implications: to treat a brother or sister as a potential sexual partner is, after all, to indulge a rather disordered desire.

…In other words, perhaps because we have overlapped marriage with friendship so much, we don’t know how to have opposite-sex friendships that aren’t inherently sexual. A spouse ought to be a friend, to be sure. But “friend” — even “best friend” — is a demotion from “husband” or “wife.”

I am going to share some random thoughts about this continuing debate.

Billy Graham was a unique individual, and his life’s concerns are not mine.

Graham was a once-in-a-lifetime, larger-than-life evangelist. He never expected to become famous and attempted, sometimes not well, to “live above the fray.” He would make mistakes of a different kind. Perhaps the most famous one was making a big deal out of praying in front of the media after meeting with Harry Truman, who was furious about this display.

Graham, for some reason, believed he would get set up, and some reporter would try to take a picture of him alone with some woman who hid in his hotel room. But wasn’t this more fear of dishonest media? I wonder why he wasn’t as afraid of some photographer setting him up by holding a glass of demon brew in his hands?

To go a bit deeper, wasn’t Graham’s prayer setting up the media to report on his spiritual influence on the President? Remember that thing about praying in private? I guess a pretend prayer to influence the media is holy. It looks like “setting up” can run in both directions.

I truly liked Bill Graham. I listened to him as a lonely teenager trying to figure out life. I read his excellent autobiography Just As I Am. In it, he freely admits that he was not a good father. So he got one rule right and maybe not another. He did get the following right: “Simul Justus et Peccator,” (Martin Luther.)

In my life, I am hardly afraid of some photographer setting me up to look bad. So why should that rule apply to me?

Only church employees and small business owners have the power to enforce the outdated Billy Graham rule.

Men and women of many large companies travel together, eat together, and meet privately. I worked for such a company and thought nothing of traveling with coworkers of both sexes. In the time I spent there, nothing “bad” happened. Remember, these days, human resources take strong stances against coerced relationships. Any employee has the right to speak to HR if someone behaves inappropriately. Yep, that’s right. Stuff happens.

Some pastors, church leaders, etc., will fail even with the Billy Graham rule.

I imagine that Johnny Hunt may have been a proponent of the Billy Graham rule. We can set rules for ourselves, and we will still fail. Think about diet and exercise. We set up parameters for ourselves which are very good. But how often do we fail to keep up with our good intentions? I think what I am trying to say is this. If someone wants to cheat, he will cheat.

Why does the Billy Graham rule apply only to the opposite sex?

In Graham’s day, most LGBTQ people hid in the closet. Those days are past. Men can hit on men. So, should we never meet alone with anyone if we want to appear pure?

What’s the deal with never being seen eating with someone of the opposite sex in a restaurant?

If a man eats alone with a woman who is not his wife, I have a couple of thoughts. Why would the couple reveal something by eating out in public if something is going on? We all have smartphones, and one can assume somebody would record this dinner date. Could it be that the couple wishes to announce their relationship in a very public way? If not, then they are naive.

Most likely, this is not a romantic situation. The man and woman are in public and are therefore behaving. What in the world are they going to do in public anyway?

The Billy Graham rule targeted all women as potential Jezebels.

This is perhaps the most destructive error in the rule. Graham and his entourage viewed women as potential sexual temptresses. Until recently, I have heard many men refuse to relate to women because they fear them. Women became objectified and were to be avoided at all costs.

Think of what is lost in such a worldview. Women are told they cannot preach, lead adult Sunday schools, and sometimes are not allowed to read Scripture out loud in church. Now they are to be avoided at all costs. They are relegated to setting up the Sunday buffet and cleaning the kitchen.

The Billy Graham rule sadly contributed to women being treated as second-class Jezebels. What did the church lose? It lost decades of women who could have contributed their faith and knowledge to a church. Even now, theodudes preach about the feminization of the church. Here is an article from the infamous CBMW.

The men who espouse the Billy Graham rule often appear “holier than thou.”

As a woman who was back-burnered in an SBC church (I taught as much as the two men, but they wouldn’t put my name as a leader of the class), I tire of men who think that “not going out to lunch with a coworker of the opposite sex means they are living out the Billy Graham rule. They are not holier since all have sinned. A pastor I love would often talk about people who wish to downplay their sins. They advertise their holiness by “cooking the books.” They chose a sin with which they do not struggle. For example, it could be”the sin of being in a restaurant with a woman.” Then they advertise they would never do such a thing. Yet, privately they watch porn or are abusive to their wives or one of a gazillion sins. Yep. They have it in the book they are pure, but they are just like the rest of us.

The Jesus rule

Jesus let us know that adultery is wrong. He said we need to avoid all appearances of evil. If one lives in a super-insulated hot house, one’s perspective is that the definition of evil means hanging out with a woman. But did Jesus say that? In the real world, the one in which the tithers tend to live enduring, close friendships and working relationships are normal between men and women. Sometimes, the real world gets it right.

Finally

I hope you realize that Todd and I work together. He has become a dear friend and a thoughtful compatriot. When I need to laugh, Todd is always there with a quip. The last time I checked, he did not appear to view me as a Jezebel.

The following quote by CS Lewis describes our friendship.

“Friendship… is born at the moment when one man says to another ‘What! You too? I thought that no one but myself…'”— C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves.

Some here at TWW have found others who have “thought their thoughts” and found they were no longer alone. I’m one of them, and I pray I will always be the friend in the following song. (Wait until the second verse.)


Comments

May Both Men and Women Always Find a Friend in Me and You — 107 Comments

  1. As for Billy Graham’s “concerns” . . .

    He was worried about how he would be perceived with the opposite sex. Unfortunately “Billy” didn’t know he was being taped. This, along with his telegram supporting Charles Stanley (in his bid for SBC president) that was not “supposed” to be made known publicly led me to lose all respect for “Dr. Graham.”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2018/02/21/billy-graham-forgave-nixons-sins-blaming-them-on-the-demon-power-of-sleeping-pills/
    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/2018-03-04/ty-article/billy-graham-nixon-and-anti-semitism-the-bombshell-tapes/0000017f-f42d-d5bd-a17f-f63f4a430000

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  2. The Billy Graham enterprise dissociated “evangelism” from Ascension life.

    I just watched a clip with Claire singing “Go easy on me baby”. I hold the child is father of the man. Even some christians who think they are avoiding the institutionalised legitimised outward projected self hatred mostly aren’t successful in that.

    I honour the boy and the child, I had what it took to survive, to come out of myself in whatever time it took, to find out things about life and belief and the world and the meanings in Scripture. To let myself be befriended by Holy Spirit.

    (I had self esteem. The present generation haven’t been given a chance.)

    This is my aspiration for those around me. I think courting is rational – including lateral thinking. I also think married people can court singles (in any way) and vice versa. A date is everything from shopping to flirting and beyond and everything in between.

    I think friends rise above the button pushing system and use words originally and appreciate the meanings OF words.

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  3. When I realized our (now former) pastor was refusing to meet at the church with me (in my role as his volunteer administrative assistant) and only at local coffee shops because of the Billy Graham rule, my first reaction was “In his dreams!”

    Perhaps not a very charitable reaction, but neither was his assumption that he was such a fine specimen that I wouldn’t be able to resist the temptation of his charms.

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  4. Wild Honey: assumption that he was such a fine specimen

    This is going to sound very raw, but truth is, some reduce guy-gal relationships to the attraction of:
    – if she’s got legs, that’s enough, so go for it.
    – if he wants me, that’s more than enough, so sure, let’s make something happen.

    The whole Comp deal seems designed to be reduced to such low life interplay. If biology is all we are as human beings, this makes for shallow relationships, more on the level of dogs in a dog park or creatures roaming through a jungle.

    This is not love, and has nothing to do with Jesus.

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  5. Wild Honey: my first reaction was “In his dreams!”

    In any case, the guy is projecting. It’s all about him. His POV.

    Two people, same or different genders, alone in a room may choose to pair up. The people that choose to live that life should all find each other, have at it, keep it to themselves, stop projecting, and leave the rest of us out of their affairs.

    In the work-a-day world, people get their work done together without the extra-curriculars every day, everywhere.

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  6. Ava Aaronson,

    Exactly…..
    When I got out of my “fundy” world, and was a student at the Big Bad, Secular Humanist University and lived in a ..horror.. co-ed dorm, I realized that the behvavior of everyone was not that “depraved”… given that I was being groomed by a pedo in the 7th grade at my fundy school, it seems the more depraved place was my fundy school.. especially when, once the pedo was uncovered, he was “sent off” to moleste boys later and go to prison for it..

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  7. I don’t see your wisdom in this post. Whether you know it or not, men from my observation and from being a man have a different temptation about the sexual relationship than women do. We men are much more tempted by our eyes. Will this be disputed by anyone? Jesus said “If your eye causes you to sin pluck it out”. Sin is something we mostly underestimate. Yes the saying of Jesus here is hyperbole. Yet it is meant to make an extreme point. Take your sin seriously and do what it take to keep yourself from sinning. This may take more in some and less in others. We are not all alike. It may require some extreme “rules” for some. And yes because Bill Graham was such a high profile person representing the Christian Faith, I think he needed to be very careful. It wasn’t just Billy Graham who would be damaged by his fall.
    In our day of so many high profile Christians falling to temptation, we see Billy Graham in contrast. Can anyone charge Bill Graham with falling to sexual sin? It may not be for everyone. However, Billy Graham was in this area without fault that we knew of. Rest his soul he set a good example.
    “Let him of thinks he stands take heed lest he fall”. It seems in this day we don’t take seriously, like Billy Graham did, to take steps not to fall into the temptation of sin.

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  8. Ava Aaronson,

    AVA, the idea of some man seeing a ‘woman’ as a ‘problem to speak to privately’ in a professional setting seems like an ‘over-kill’ to the concept that women are ‘the problem’ and
    it reduces ‘women’ to the status of ‘lesser beings’ in the theatre of ‘the dignity of human persons’, most certainly.

    I ‘get it’ that many women are highly offended at the implications of the ‘Billy Graham Rule’ . . .

    archaic because of ‘the assumptions’ of the old days in courts where women who had been raped were brutalized twice over by the defense for the accused rapist. . . .

    but apparently, the whole fundamentalist-evangelical world now seems enthralled to treat women as ‘non-persons’ who cannot make decisions for themselves morally;
    while OTOH these same fundagelicals worship an ‘annointed one’ whose language about ‘grabbing’ women’s private parts is a scandal against the whole of Christendom. . .

    At WHAT POINT do men on the far right begin to understand that the DIGNITY OF THE HUMAN PERSON is based on the person bearing ‘the image of God’ and possessing an eternal soul given to them by God Himself???

    or will it always be dangerous to exist in any state that defines women as ‘non-persons’ in how women are treated by men?

    I’m glad KANSAS women spoke up for their own humanity. That surprised me in a good way.
    IF the dignity of human persons EVER includes women in the ‘red’ states, it will seem miraculous to me as it unfolds, but I think women MUST stand up for their own worth as human persons with dignity in this country. . . .

    thank you for defending the dignity of women in the Church, Dee, these many years 🙂

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  9. Ken A,

    The biblical solution appears to be to control the direction of one’s thoughts/gaze: Job 31:1

    Granting the premises of arguments in favor of universal application of the BG rule, it would appear to be unsafe for fathers to be unsupervised in the presence of their daughters, or sons unsupervised in the presence of their mothers. But one would think that a parent’s love for his/her children, and a child’s love/respect for parents, would prevent dishonorable behavior. Do those restraints not exist in other relationships too?

    If the BG rule really is necessary for holy living, and should be a universal mandatory regulation, I would take that as evidence that “the Gospel, in the hands of present-day churches, does not actually make people new.”

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  10. Samuel Conner: Granting the premises of arguments in favor of universal application of the BG rule, it would appear to be unsafe for fathers to be unsupervised in the presence of their daughters, or sons unsupervised in the presence of their mothers. But one would think that a parent’s love for his/her children, and a child’s love/respect for parents, would prevent dishonorable behavior. Do those restraints not exist in other relationships too?

    In what world did this have anything to do with what I wrote? Did I argue for the “universal application of the BG rule”? No I did not. This my friend is what is call a “straw man” argument. Attack an absurd argument that your opponent didn’t make. Knock it over with ease.

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  11. On the one hand, I totally agree that men and women should be able to enjoy the mutual benefits of friendship together, even if not married. On the other hand, I’m trying to balance that with my experience (as a pastor and now therapist) that often these friendships can go beyond acceptable emotional and physical boundaries, especially when one or both people have issues in their own marriages and begin confiding/commiserating with one another. Perhaps this is an extreme example.

    I do think that pastors (and therapists) need to be especially careful in their interactions with members of the opposite sex who are parishioners/clients. The power differential alone is a reason to be cautious, but more importantly, when a vulnerable person comes for counseling about their crappy marriage and a leader of the opposite sex provides the very things they aren’t receiving at home (listening, dignity, empathy, respect, etc.) the relational dynamics can become very confusing and messy.

    I think my thoughts are Intended to be more clarifications than objections to the post.

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  12. Jeffrey J Chalmers: I realized that the behvavior of everyone was not that “depraved”… given that I was being groomed by a pedo in the 7th grade at my fundy school, it seems the more depraved place was my fundy school.. especially when, once the pedo was uncovered, he was “sent off” to moleste boys later and go to prison for it..

    This is a sadly common occurrence. Thank you for that dichotomy. It’s time we thing through how we actually work out our faith.

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  13. Hi Dee, usually agree with you but I have a different perspective on this one in a couple of areas. I can be long winded so I will try to be concise.
    As nurse for 40 years ( primarily then a female occupation) and a male I have seen the gamut of all kinds of relationships. Billy Graham was unique in history. He was charismatic, had a powerful position and was considered handsome by many and that made him a target as any man or woman can be. I know and have worked with plenty of nurses that would love to snag a doctor for a husband, married or unmarried. ( and plenty of male doctors doing the same thing) Male-female relationships are complex and it is easy to go further than you thought you would, so caution is always in order.
    We all can learn from others successes and mistakes. It too late when your in the back
    seat of the car and the clothes are coming off.
    Years ago a woman had little chance of finding justice in complaining about sexual harassment but in my neck of the woods that isn’t true anymore. Because of many lawsuits , HR will definitely investigate any complaints especially involving sexual harassment. You can loose your career very fast if someone reports you, I am very careful what I say and I noticed in the last several years that dynamics between doctors and nurses have changed ( not necessarily bad) Colleges have become the same way, male students have found themselves under discipline because they had sex with a woman who later regretted it and filed charges. My neighbor who is a male nursing instructor always leaves his door open
    when counseling male and female students because he has had offers for sex and even threats if he didn’t pass the student. He told me that when he now has to tell a student they are out of the nursing program he has witness in there.
    About the restaurant, we have the video of the pastor kissing and loving on someone not his wife in Chattanooga or something like that so me going out with a female coworker could be misconstrued too. The BGR ( Billy Graham Rule) has been used to make women look like Jezebels or sex hungry predators but for me and other guys I know, I worry more about myself. I am not that foolish to think that given the right conditions it couldn’t happen to me or any other man. I love my wife greatly , am faithful and I love my Lord but I still struggle with sin as the scriptures say, also I have an enemy Satan that wants to destroy me and you though it’s still my responsibility. As a pastor friend says “you never know what you might do on the worst moment of the worst day of your life.” Anyone is vulnerable given the right circumstances. I believe that following the BGR doesn’t necessarily make you holier than thou, it’s acknowledging that I am human. There are plenty of guys that probably wished they had put safe guards in place and lost everything.
    Now has does the BGR work in my life ( I hate the term BGR, I think of it as common sense rules dealing with male- female relationships)
    I am not rigid, after all I have primarily worked with woman most of my life ( I used to be a big minority until recently) but I put in safeguards.
    Some examples, I needed a ride home from work and a female coworker said she would do so I accepted her kind offer , everyone knew and I told my wife who was out of town that I had car problems and Susan was giving me a ride home. Susan after dropping me off wanted to see our new home but I demurred till my wife got back. Should I have invited her in and given her the tour? Probably made the right decision I think.
    I had a young woman housekeeper at our house when I can home and she was still working and I could tell that she was feeling awkward about me being there ( she had cleaned most of the house) so I left to go to thr post office. I also try to be sensitive to the situation, if I am getting on an elevator and a woman seems concerned ( I am a nurse and many of us are good at reading patients emotions) or uncomfortable I will wait for another or the same walking early in the morning or night and I see a female jogging down the street, I will usually cross the street so she doesn’t have to assess whether I am a threat or not. Just trying to be considerate especially what just happened In Memphis.
    I definitely believe that men and women can have friendships but there needs to caution built in. I always keep a saying in the back of my mind that a friend said who did prison ministry for many years “ Chuck, prison is full of guys who made 30 second bad decisions).
    By the way, this article hit home with me as my wife is working on a project with an architect one on one and the last time they were at the building site while going over the plans , he touched her shoulder inappropriately. Being the strong willed woman she is, she turned and facing him told him do it again and you’ll regret it ( she is 100 percent Sicilian short in stature but what a look she can give you) He is married, they have worked together on this project for over a year and somehow he crossed the line for what reason who knows but him. I am curious what kind of boundaries some of you may have since many of us work with members of the opposite sex.

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  14. Samuel Conner,

    Thanks for the interaction. Dee’s argument is that the BG rule is not something that should be mandatory for everyone. She thought it was appropriate for BG himself — and I think by implication one can surmise that she would reckon that it is appropriate for others in his situation. And you seem to agree.

    But you begin your comment by questioning the wisdom of Dee’s article, which it seems to me undermines your own stance of agreeing with Dee that the BG rule should not be regarded to be a universal rule of holy living.

    Nowhere does Dee say that the BG rule is not an effective way of avoiding temptation. If people need this, they should use it.

    There are people arguing that the BG rule is for everyone; Dee disagrees, and I agree with Dee (and, apparently, you do too).

    Perhaps I don’t understand your objections to Dee’s post.

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  15. Max,

    Goodness! I had no idea there was such a definition. I am convinced that God created us to question. That’s why we are here. I don’t think that will end in heaven. I have this vision of God showing us the wonders of the universe, and I raise my hand and say “Could you please explain black holes and why didn’t You want us to breathe in space? Another one, do you think Johnny Cash could sing “Folsom Prison Blues” in heaven?

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  16. When I traveled for business or had meetings with co-workers, I had no problem meeting with people out in public. And still an executive shamelessly propositioned, pursued and stalked me. Since it was in the early ’80s, I had no recourse.
    Later, as a former therapist and university professor, I was extremely careful to leave the door open or have people nearby. My office doors had large, clear windows so anyone could see in. I had one student throw a heavy glass figurine at me when I told her she had to leave the program (she missed, thankfully).
    I took every precaution (and still do) to avoid temptation or cause someone to stumble, and it feels as though it’s never enough. I’m still blamed simply because I’m a woman.

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  17. ChuckP: As nurse for 40 years ( primarily then a female occupation) and a male I have seen the gamut of all kinds of relationships. Billy Graham was unique in history. He was charismatic, had a powerful position and was considered handsome by many and that made him a target as any man or woman can be. I know and have worked with plenty of nurses that would love to snag a doctor for a husband, married or unmarried. ( and plenty of male doctors doing the same thing) Male-female relationships are complex and it is easy to go further than you thought you would, so caution is always in order.

    As a nurse who worked in hospitals with doctors and nurse, I saw that as well. Funny thing I married a doctor but I met him in church. I think it is a but unfair to label “nurses who want to nab doctors.” There are some women and some men who want to have a spouse who is a good provider or is a “good looker.”
    Now, let’s switch to my time in industry after I got my MBA. I saw men and women having affairs and some people targeting people in high positions due to their disposable income.
    Do you see the problem here? This goes on all the time. Have you never been hit on? I have. Has my husband ever been hit on? You bet. Have we strayed? No. We don’t need a rule to seek proper relationships.
    If this happens in most jobs these days, one can go to human resources and explain that they are feeling uncomfortable.
    My husband I have faced all sorts of situations and have handled it without running from an elevator. You do not know what anyone is feeling. She may have been uncomfortable with the other things. Did you ask her? The same could go for an elevator. If you don’t ask everyone what they are feeling, you have no idea if some is uncomfortable.
    I once had two young men who looked like thugs and possibly high get on an elevator with me. I stepped off and alerted security. I didn’t need a man to step off if I’m uncomfortable. I will do that myself. Arer you saying those women were unable to deal with this?
    There have been relatively few people who have targeted men and pulled a “he molested me.” The ones who have cried out were telling the truth in most instance.
    I am not willing to give up the freedom of friendships with me for the minute possibility might get hit on.I can deal with it myself and I am not “Sicilian.”
    Finally, the video of the pastor kissing a woman not his wife is proof that the system works. Eating in public is not the place to demonstrate inappropriate romance.
    I have more to say but need to get going.

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  18. Wild Honey: Perhaps not a very charitable reaction, but neither was his assumption that he was such a fine specimen that I wouldn’t be able to resist the temptation of his charms.

    Another case of the bald fat Fortysomething who never heard of deodorant looking in the mirror and seeing the Buff Alpha Chad who’s God’s Gift to Women?

    I’ve come across that archetype so many times in Fandoms…

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  19. CMT:
    “The Billy Graham rule targeted all women as potential Jezebels.”

    Yes, and overbroad use of it treats all men as hopeless horndogs who can’t resist their sexual urges. Which is a pretty dim view of men as human beings and followers of Jesus.

    More like the Wahabi/Talibani view. As in Burqa and Honor Killing.

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  20. Samuel Conner,

    I don’t think the BG rule is for everyone. You are right. But sin is serious and we take somewhat cavalier in my estimation. If someone wanted to practice it, I wouldn’t discourage him. Many could benefit. Not everyone may be a strong. As a young man who wasn’t save until I was 26 years old I definitely need to make extreme measures to stay away from sexual sin. If young men were as I was while not a born again Christian and pretty loose sexually, you may need to take extreme measures. If a young man has a problem I would counsel him to be very careful.

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  21. I truly liked Bill Graham. I listened to him as a lonely teenager trying to figure out life. I read his excellent autobiography Just As I Am. In it, he freely admits that he was not a good father. So he got one rule right and maybe not another.

    In other words, he was being a fallible human.
    Problem is, a ManaGAWD is expected to be an Absolutely PERFECT Spiritual Giant. Like the “What I’m Like” and “What I’m Looking For” on those Christian Dating profiles, so Christian even Christ couldn’t measure up.

    They chose a sin with which they do not struggle. For example, it could be”the sin of being in a restaurant with a woman.” Then they advertise they would never do such a thing. Yet, privately they watch porn or are abusive to their wives or…

    …get picked up on a prostitution sting or get on TV meeting Chris Hansen the hard way (To Catch a Predator); the more Pious, the more Pervy.

    The secular version of this I encountered in the Eighties was a flat-out ehebephile sexual predator who was very Righteous about being militant anti-smoking.

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  22. I don’t think the BGR paints all women as jezebels or all men as randy dudes who cannot control themselves.

    In point of fact, many large corporations have moved close to it to prevent lawsuits and issues. They want to prevent bad actors from doing their evil deeds, and also protect the good guys and gals from false accusations.

    In most cases they can find work arounds: open doors, glass walls, if one person can do the job don’t send two, or if it takes more than one person send three. Most corporations that I know of are doing this regardless of gender. No one on one time for two males, two females, or male and female. While at times it costs a bit more, in the long run it saves money by reducing those pesky incidents and harassment reports.

    Those that don’t want to live by it don’t have to live by it. May need a new job but they can refuse to abide. Free country.

    But those that choose to abide by it, or enforce it at their corporation, are not evil beings accusing anybody of anything, nor being sexist against women.

    Just being cautious, recognizing human nature for what it is, an putting safety nets in place.

    As to male female friendships, no problem. However as a married couple both of us have had through the years (50+) to tell a friend to back off. My hubby is not going have a woman other than me as bff, nor will I have a male for bff. And we won’t fill that role for others either. Emotional adultery is real thing. Others outside our marriage may not like that, but it is what it is.

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  23. Ken A,

    I think we are on the same page — if it’s beneficial (or, more urgently, necessary), then observe the rule.

    Perhaps one of the ways of fleeing this temptation would be to avoid vocations that call, in the ordinary course of ‘business’, for exposing oneself to temptations that one reckons oneself not to be strong enough to resist. This may sound outrageous, but I think there’s arguably a biblical warrant — one of the qualifications for eldership is “husband of one wife” — which I have heard means “one woman man”, content with one woman. If one knows that one is at significant risk of succumbing to the temptation to infidelity, such that the BG rule is really the only effective precaution, one might be warranted to question whether, at heart, one really is a “one woman man” (and this is not to denigrate polygyny per se as a form of social organization (I personally do not like it on grounds of ‘equity’, though) — David was a polygynist, as well as some other OT ‘greats’ — and this disclaimer is not an endorsement of polygyny, either). If one has grounds to doubt that, perhaps one ought to self-disqualify from pastoral ministry.

    And one could extend this idea to other areas. If one knows that one loves to lord it over others, perhaps one ought not to aspire to a form of employment that is commanded to not lord over others. Covetousness, ditto, love of lucre, ditto, and so on. Perhaps the BG rule, enlarged to all the biblical commands, actually can function as a kind of ‘personality test’ to steer people who may not be able to fulfill pastoral call with integrity away from that vocation. Perhaps many of the christian leaders who have fallen into these temptations were actually not as well suited to christian leadership as they were previously thought to be.

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  24. Samuel Conner,

    I appreciate the response, though not agreeing with much of it. I think you are taking, on some level Jesus teaching to take sin seriously. I don’t see how true Christians could take a position for polygamy, In Jesus teaching Matthew 19:4-6 “It was not so in the beginning, God made them male and female. and said “Therefore a man shall leave his mother and father the two shall become one flesh….What therefore God has joined together, let man not separate.”
    How anyone could look at the polygamy of King David and say that it would be acceptable, is beyond me. David’s family was a wreck. As was Abraham and Jacob and anyone else with more than one wife. Th Old Testament give many examples of how this is not good for society, the women involved or the man. If you want trouble practice polygamy. Not me. It looks to me like it is asking for ruin.

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  25. Ken A: If you want trouble practice polygamy. Not me. It looks to me like it is asking for ruin.

    Agreed. My point is that it does not seem to have pleased the Creator to forbid this form of social organization, at least during that period of time; it was evidently not evil enough in His eyes to forbid, at least not at that time — yikes, it looks a bit like situational morality. My interpretation is that it’s an adaptation to conditions of extreme wealth inequality, such that significant numbers of men cannot afford to raise a family — which consigns their potential female partners to poverty and childlessness unless they affiliate with a wealthy man. And the wealthy men tend to be happy with this state of affairs, both the distribution of material possessions and the distribution of women. “But from the beginning it was not so.”

    I worry a little that we may be moving back toward that kind of economic conditions.

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  26. dee: Finally, the video of the pastor kissing a woman not his wife is proof that the system works. Eating in public is not the place to demonstrate inappropriate romance.

    Dee, one wonders IF the pastor did this ON PURPOSE (or maybe sub-consciously) so he WOULD ‘get caught’ . . . it’s amazing how some very conflicted people do this kind of thing in order to get out of their ‘complicated’ situations and bring everything to a head . . .

    for some folks, ‘conflicted’ doesn’t sit well with their own image of themselves as superior to others (ie. ‘the lost’) when their own behaviors are no different from ‘the lost’

    or they can’t handle the pressure of ‘goat-hood’ as in the Gospel of St. Matthew, according to Our Lord, wherein the ‘goat’ says ‘Lord, Lord’ but has been acting as one who did not truly believe

    conflicted-much? poor pastor couldn’t handle goatdom and went ‘public’ to at least attempt some sort of ‘confession’ of wrong-doing . . .
    That’s my take on his strange behavior
    and my take is worth less than 2 cents 🙂

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  27. Ken A: Dee, I like this reply. Perhaps I am naïve. I am trying to think of someone who thinks all women are Jezabels. I can’t come up with anyone.

    As a med. student, I had to ride with a staff Dr. in a car once on a rotation, I think it was to a prison site. Anyway, I got to his house, parked and knocked on the door, and he made me wait in the driveway until he opened the garage door and drove out (there were also others who traveled with us).

    Although I felt it was unnecessary, I can respect someone’s need to act that way if they feel it respectable or had other reasons. But certainly to say it’s a blanket rule for Christians would be silly.
    We were always careful (when our kids were little) that I drove or walked the (female) babysitters home rather than hubby, not that he’s not trustworthy, but just so the sitters (or their parents) wouldn’t feel uncomfortable and there wouldn’t be any appearance of questionable motives.

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  28. dee: As a woman who was back-burnered in an SBC church (I taught as much as the two men, but they wouldn’t put my name as a leader of the class), I tire of men who think that “not going out to lunch with a coworker of the opposite sex means they are living out the Billy Graham rule. They are not holier since all have sinned. A pastor I love would often talk about people who wish to downplay their sins. They advertise their holiness by “cooking the books.” They chose a sin with which they do not struggle. For example, it could be”the sin of being in a restaurant with a woman.” Then they advertise they would never do such a thing. Yet, privately they watch porn or are abusive to their wives or one of a gazillion sins. Yep. They have it in the book they are pure, but they are just like the rest of us.

    Dee
    This, I believe is a huge problem. I will say right up front that I struggle with sin. I am tempted to exaggerate to make myself look good. I am tempted to magnify other people’s weaknesses in order to surreptitiously highlight the fact that I don’t share that weakness. I say struggle because I know it is sin, and when I do it, the Lord consistently shows me. Normally I repent and ask forgiveness. Not always, because I am not perfect.

    I also believe that every single one of us struggles with sin. Not all with the same sin. It is just that sexual immorality is viewed by many as the Scarlet A sin, the big sin, the one sin that disqualifies a man or woman from ever speaking about spiritual things (I may be overstating this to make my point 🙂 ) Anyway, my point is that we can all learn from your point made, that we should all be careful not to make such a big deal about the sins of others, but start with dealing with our own. I do believe that the sins of those in public ministry, especially those who promote themselves, their books, their conferences, are subject to public scrutiny and open discussion of their failures. But something that we must all do, in my opinion, is be honest about our own weaknesses, and be on guard against that subtle pride of comparing ourselves with ourselves. 2 Cor 10:12 “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.”

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  29. Ava Aaronson: This is going to sound very raw, but truth is, some reduce guy-gal relationships to the attraction of:
    – if she’s got legs, that’s enough, so go for it.
    – if he wants me, that’s more than enough, so sure, let’s make something happen.

    I’m pretty sure that these men don’t actually simplify men and women down to their reproductive organs, and if you have the correct organs, all bets are off. In fact, these men are often pretty focused on encouraging women to be ornamental. Women also complain that the men in church still only notice the pretty women. I think this is about something else.

    My experience has been that certain prominent individuals within the church tend teach about relationships in a way that ignores women’s attraction. This starts with modesty teachings that focus on women’s clothing and behavior and then moves into teachings about relationships that ignore the woman’s consent and/or interest. I have read books on dating/courtships that tell men to consider whether or not their interest in a woman is God’s will/ a good thing and then the same book tells women to consider whether the man’s interest in her is God’s will/a good thing. They don’t worry about whether or not the woman is interested at all. Then, to make it all less polarizing, offensive, and embarrassing they make the Billy Graham rule apply to all women regardless of whether or not there is any attraction from the man towards the woman. Because if they didn’t, they’d be in a position of basically telling specific women that they would consider sleeping with them if the opportunity arose. IE: “you are too pretty for me to spend time alone with” – which would make them pretty vulnerable to the woman responding back: “Don’t worry, I’m just not into you!” And that would be rejection! On top of that, it would be pretty boorish and rude for them to outright tell a woman that the Billy Graham Rule doesn’t apply to her, because he would never!

    Now, if the church actually respected women’s feelings and opinions, and didn’t make attraction mostly or even only about the men’s feelings, the Billy Graham rule would make less sense to them. Because you would have to have mutual attraction rather than simply a man being possibly tempted to “take” what is not his. And then we’d be having discussions about how to be true friend’s that accept one another as we are.

    Would you still have people cheat? Sure. If they want to, they will.

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  30. I read Aimee Byrds’s column and as I stated above men nd women can have friendships but with caution. I have been divorced and when I went to a divorce support group ( the only guy) for months , one of the recurring themes I heard was how often their former husbands developed emotional relationships with coworkers and neighbors and fellow church members that led to adultery. My next door married neighbor came over a month ago with a big dessert and said that I must get very lonely with my wife gone and so she thought I could use a dessert. I thanked her for her concern, talked briefly on the porch but I was not going to invite her in for coffee ( it was big enough for three servings)
    and talk about my issues or hers. It is just a boundary I have and I don’t see any reason to defend my decision and really to me just common sense. Outside we can talk about anything and everything. We each are different with different experiences and temptations and weakness so like any rule you can tailor for your needs.

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  31. I have been a lurker and admirer since the Houston Chronicle Series; am from the same area as Jules Woodson, weighing in for the first time. I come from hundreds of years of every precursor to Southern Baptists, and I walked away from the SBC after reading the subscription to the Texas Baptist Standard my mother had delivered to me at college in the 1970s.

    Those were powerful years, I know from TWW. The heart of the church was authority and submission. Moral courage, the kind that calmly claims the priesthood of the believer and shakes off the dust of hypocrisy, not so much. But my spiritual nurture was sound, my uneducated parents neither hypocrites or misogynists, and my chief impression in those days of emerging Patterson, with big doses of Falwell and Hal Lindsay and all kinds of other transition, was that NO ONE, either editorial or reader, seemed to reference the Great Commandment, on which I knew rested all the law and the prophets, in interpreting either scripture, preaching or the culture. And that was my center, and my exit lane.

    So, today we find ourselves debating the Billy Graham Rule, inside and out, and the various ways it stands as authority or doesn’t. First, I would bet money even today that every skilled male speaker struggles with groupies, and I don’t begrudge Graham his chosen tactic. The crazy is in enshrining it 60 or 70 years later without context and question.

    Are the erstwhile disciples asking questions like, “What are some models for living faithfully?” And does anyone else trust them with acting and experiencing and learning from the natural consequences? As an older woman, if I were asked to ride in the back seat, I am likely to ask if the urge to pursue sex with me were so strong the driver needed distance, and I guarantee a conversation would ensue. Does a man say, “Strike me down, Lord, but I am going to try to treat women with respect even when close enough to touch.” Can’t a pastor say, “I have found that balancing my roles works better if there visible proof of my autonomy”?

    Instead, the faithful chew on topics while the lessons languish farther up the chain. And believe me, there is profit there. Forty years ago, in a wonderful Presbyterian church that had women deacons and elders, I listened to a Sunday School Class debate having women on the leadership committee. And. I. Stayed. For the social life. My children would have invoked the “question interpretations that sideline the Great Commandment.” policy. They would have quietly left and not returned. Thank goodness, their generation votes with their feet, while we sit around and wonder why they do that. And they dance.

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  32. Bob M:
    I’ve noticed that my comments are now awaiting moderation. Why is that?

    We have a rule about not asking about moderation. I’ll be nice. There was SOMETHING in your comment that triggered our bot moderation. We do not release the list because bad people will use the list to escape moderation. I had to go get bloodwork and pick up medicine. I was also almost out of gas. I came home, gave the pugs treats, and Holly aka Slant vomited all over the kitchen.
    I will be in trouble if GBTC sees this, but I decided to help people see how I am juggling the blog, my mom, and my household. I do my best.

    I made an edit. GBTC

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  33. Ken A: Jesus said “If YOUR eye causes you to sin pluck it out”.

    It doesn’t tell you to throw out the person that your eye is looking at. I’m going to be really blunt and perhaps crass. (Hi moderators!)

    Yes, men are supposedly more visual than women (I’ve heard some women complain that men don’t realize just how visual women can be). But if you are not a rapist, and want your sexual partners to be consensual, then this argument doesn’t fly, because nothing improper will happen unless both are interested. Honestly, it can be a little creepy to have a guy say he cannot be alone with me because I’m a woman. 99% I haven’t thought of him in a sexual way, nor was I going to until he brought it up, and now it’s sounding like I should avoid being alone with him because he thinks he has total control over whether or not we have sex. Tone effects how this comes across, but it is pretty objectifying.

    Furthermore, in one of Dee’s examples, she describes a young man refusing to drive a woman his grandmother’s age to the airport because of the Billy Graham rule. With few exceptions, visually motivated men are not attracted to women 3xs their age. This was most likely not about him being tempted, and it wasn’t about people thinking that he was going to have sex with her if he was alone in a car with her.

    As to Billy Graham, his rule was ultimately not about protecting him from lust. It was about protecting him from someone trying to essentially frame him. That speaks of paranoia, but given the abysmal way the Tabloids treat our famous people, his paranoia may have been warranted. Most of us do not have to worry about our faces’ gracing the front pages of the tabloids, with a sensational headline. So then, we really need to think about if the Billy Graham rule causes more harm than good in our own situation.

    Finally, I don’t believe for a minute that the Billy Graham rule stops lust. It is pretty obvious to me that when a man is visually attracted to me, he doesn’t have to be alone with me to notice me. He doesn’t have to even be alone with me to flirt with me. In fact, my husband can be right next to me, and he may flirt with me.

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  34. dee: We have a rule about not asking about moderation. I’ll be nice. There was SOMETHING in your comment that triggered our bot moderation. We do not release the list because bad people will use the list to escape moderation. I had to go get bloodwork and pick up medicine. I was also almost out of gas. I came home, gave the pugs treats, and Holly aka Slant vomited all over the kitchen.
    I will be in trouble if GBTC sees this, but I decided to help people see how I am juggling the blog, my mom, and my household. I do my best.

    Thanks Dee. And thank you for keeping this going with all your troubles. You are to be commended.

    And because this comment talked about moderation, it was moderated for 2 1/2 hours till one of us noticed it. GBTC

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  35. Not a fan of Graham or his rule. I’ve worked in allied healthcare for years. If I followed that nutty rule, I couldn’t work.

    The blame is completely on the woman. It’s a form of religious apartheid based on gender.

    The goal is to keep a barrier between the temptress and the leader. And what are most of the leadership? Men.

    Praise be.

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  36. HereIStand: The power differential alone is a reason to be cautious, but more importantly, when a vulnerable person comes for counseling about their crappy marriage and a leader of the opposite sex provides the very things they aren’t receiving at home (listening, dignity, empathy, respect, etc.) the relational dynamics can become very confusing and messy.

    I believe this has a name in secular counseling? I can’t remember it, but I believe this is why Jung got into trouble? I also believe that most secularly trained therapists receive training for dealing with these situations because it is actually not uncommon.

    As to relationships that go to far, yes that can happen. I don’t have a cure-all because it is probably depends on the person. I have several friendships with men, and my goal in those relationships, is that my husband (or the man’s wife) could join us at any moment and it wouldn’t be weird or uncomfortable. That attitude tends to keep boundaries pretty platonic. I also don’t do things like hangout in “intimate” locations with them. But I didn’t hang out in “intimate” locations with men prior to marriage either.

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  37. Jack: If I followed that nutty rule, I couldn’t work.

    I’m a woman working in construction. If men followed that rule in my field, I wouldn’t be able to do my job. My boss would have had to fire me long ago because he is man and I am a woman and part of my job involves spending hours with him surveying buildings and having business meetings where I take notes while he drives. In 15 years, I’ve only had two instances where men made advances. One happened in an elevator lobby as soon as he had any level of privacy (and a year later when he tried to track me down and hire my firm specifically requesting me on the job because he wanted access to me). He straight up asked me for sex. The second was with a tradesman who was blatantly winking at me and waving during a construction meeting with 20 people sitting around a table, he wasn’t being circumspect in the slightest.

    The vast majority of these men do not claim to be Christians, and yet they manage to keep to business.

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  38. Throughout my long professional career in which I traveled extensively in the U.S. and Europe, sometimes with female colleagues, I always practiced the “Max Rule.” In a nutshell the Max Rule was “respect your colleagues, treat them as friends, honor God, act like a Christian.” I have no regrets.

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  39. ChuckP: My next door married neighbor came over a month ago with a big dessert and said that I must get very lonely with my wife gone and so she thought I could use a dessert.

    We need to call this what it was: A come on. I, as a married woman, can drop a baked good off at your house, and there is a big difference between me saying “I made dessert and my husband and I will not eat all of it, would you like some?” (I pawn partial desserts off all the time, sometimes my husband is the delivery man) and “You must be lonely…”

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  40. NeoCal dude-bros would have convulsions & froth at the mouth if they knew me. I’m a male nurse. 100% of my coworkers are female. I “float” to all the NICU’s in our hospital system and when I’m at our smaller hospitals, I often work with one female colleague alone. I take care of NICU babies, which means I go to deliveries and also help moms with breastfeeding. Guess that must mean I’m practically a male prostitute!

    In all seriousness, I just don’t understand the obsession with sex and with degrading the role of women. I’m listening to the Bodies Behind the Bus podcast (about Acts 29 churches) and it’s heartbreaking to hear very educated and talented women (eg, earning PhD’s and having professional experience) who were told by their churches that they essentially had nothing to offer unless they were a pastor’s wife. This was even told to a woman who was married to a non-pastor. I’m conservative theologically and politically. But the church is so sick in our nation that even if I were a hard-line complementarian (I’m not), I wouldn’t be able to rule out God raising up Deborahs.

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  41. Bob M: I’ve noticed that my comments are now awaiting moderation. Why is that?

    If you will look immediately above where you type your comments there is a link “Click here for our commenting rules.” It is all spelled out there. And if you think we have too many rules, all of them are due to what someone did on this blog.

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  42. ES: As to Billy Graham, his rule was ultimately not about protecting him from lust. It was about protecting him from someone trying to essentially frame him. That speaks of paranoia, but given the abysmal way the Tabloids treat our famous people, his paranoia may have been warranted.

    Graham was either a public figure or on his way to becoming a public figure at the time, so it made sense.

    Problem is, the rule established by Billy for his situation at that place and time is now “GAWD SAITH!” for everybody, everywhere, everywhen. Under pain of God’s Wrath.

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  43. Andy: I’m listening to the Bodies Behind the Bus podcast (about Acts 29 churches) and it’s heartbreaking to hear very educated and talented women (eg, earning PhD’s and having professional experience) who were told by their churches that they essentially had nothing to offer unless they were a pastor’s wife.

    Well, the Apostle Paul trumped NeoCal dudebro-theology when he wrote:

    “Gone is the distinction between Jew and Greek, slave and free man, male and female — you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

    “Now there are distinctive varieties of spiritual gifts, special abilities given by the grace and extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit operating in all believers … the gifts, the achievements, the abilities, the empowering are brought about by one and the same Holy Spirit, distributing to each believer individually just as He chooses.” (1 Corinthians 12 AMP)

    The New Calvinists miss so much of what God intended by telling female believers to sit down and shut up. The Body of Christ is not complete in their churches without the spiritual gifts of women … “as He chooses”, not as spiritually immature dudebros dictate.

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  44. christiane: Dee, one wonders IF the pastor did this ON PURPOSE (or maybe sub-consciously) so he WOULD ‘get caught’ . . . it’s amazing how some very conflicted people do this kind of thing in order to get out of their ‘complicated’ situations and bring everything to a head . . .

    Like how Paul Rubens torpedoed Pee-Wee Herman.

    Another possibility is thrillseeking, where doing it where there’s danger of getting caught makes it more EXCITING.

    And there’s arrogance. Like Congressman Wilbur Mills drunken romp in a fountain with a stripper. “THIS CAN’T RUIN ME! NOTHING CAN RUIN ME!” Well, it did.

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  45. Ken A: How anyone could look at the polygamy of King David and say that it would be acceptable, is beyond me. David’s family was a wreck. As was Abraham and Jacob and anyone else with more than one wife. Th Old Testament give many examples of how this is not good for society, the women involved or the man. If you want trouble practice polygamy.

    A Jewish contact once called this “The Subversive Wisdom of Torah”. Polygyny for the rich and powerful was as basic a Law of Nature as Slavery back then. If ha-Torah had blatantly spoken against it, they’d just blow it off as Crazy Talk. So ha-Toran gets sneaky.
    * Allow polygamy (AKA polygyny harems) but show & tell how that can screw up big time.
    * Allow Honor Killings, but require permission from the Authorities (“Elders at the Gate”) in Public, thus defeating the entire purpose of Honor Killing (to hush things up so nobody finds out; “If Nobody Knows of my Sin, I Am Not Shamed — and dead Jezebels tell no tales”).
    * Allow slavery, but regulate it to the point that it’s less hassle to just hire free workers.

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  46. readingalong,

    Reading your story made me think of something.

    For context from my own story (above), the BGR was an imposition because I had to bring my toddler along to the meetings, not having regular childcare since this was a volunteer position. I’d asked to meet at the church so she could have a little room to run around (under my supervision) while we met, but the pastor insisted on meeting in public in coffee shops. Where it’s a lot harder to keep a toddler contained for an hour plus. So, all of the burden for my pastor’s decision to practice the BGR was placed on me.

    When I happen to need a gynecological exam, the healthcare provider is the one to provide a “chaperone.” And I recently read about a counselor (not licensed) who only meets with women clients if they consent to his female colleague also being present. In these two situations (as in the one you’ve described with the doctor and his car), the burden of the BGR rule was born by the one who decided to follow it. NOT by the people it was being enforced against. This seems to me to be more fair and tolerable.

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  47. ES: Honestly, it can be a little creepy to have a guy say he cannot be alone with me because I’m a woman. 99% I haven’t thought of him in a sexual way, nor was I going to until he brought it up, and now it’s sounding like I should avoid being alone with him because he thinks he has total control over whether or not we have sex. Tone effects how this comes across, but it is pretty objectifying.

    YES

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  48. Nyssa the Hobbit: I grew up Fundamentalist, with friends in various churches, and I don’t remember anybody in my circles worrying about this. It seems to be part of the Purity Culture that went into overdrive around the 90s or so.

    That, and the fact that there has been an outbreak of American “pastors” who are having trouble keeping their pants on … in addition to the development of social media which so easily exposes the bad-boys.

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  49. Wild Honey,

    As I’m thinking about this, there was one exception. When i was in college, I requested a meeting with my pastor to discuss something I needed advice on. My pastor was a fresh graduate from seminary and only a few years older than me. He asked if I would be okay with his wife attending as I had made it clear it was a sensitive non-coffe shop topic. I caught his drift, and was actually grateful for her because I was more comfortable. It turned out that she actually had experience in my situation and ended up giving me all the advice, while he quietly listened. She was very helpful. If I’d had any idea, I would probably have asked her advice rather than his.

    I don’t remember how he asked me about his wife attending, but the wording made me feel protected. There is a time and a place.

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  50. Michael in UK: (I had self esteem. The present generation haven’t been given a chance.)

    Self-esteem was a problem when I was growing up, and it remains a problem. I don’t know how much time you spend with “the present generation,” but life has not transformed so very much. Youngsters still want to have friends and make their way in the world. People in their late teens and twenties have the same old questions: how will they support themselves, find love, and so on.

    Our God-given world has always been full of hazards, yet people continue to do as they have always done. They navigate their environments, survive and provide for families, and ideally try to leave the place a little better for the future.

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  51. Headless Unicorn Guy: A Jewish contact once called this “The Subversive Wisdom of Torah”. Polygyny for the rich and powerful was as basic a Law of Nature as Slavery back then. If ha-Torah had blatantly spoken against it, they’d just blow it off as Crazy Talk. So ha-Toran gets sneaky.
    * Allow polygamy (AKA polygyny harems) but show & tell how that can screw up big time.
    * Allow Honor Killings, but require permission from the Authorities (“Elders at the Gate”) in Public, thus defeating the entire purpose of Honor Killing (to hush things up so nobody finds out; “If Nobody Knows of my Sin, I Am Not Shamed — and dead Jezebels tell no tales”).
    * Allow slavery, but regulate it to the point that it’s less hassle to just hire free workers.

    That is very interesting. I had never thought of it that way. And it makes it even more poignant why Jesus reacted the way he did with the “adulterous” woman.

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  52. Wild Honey: When I happen to need a gynecological exam, the healthcare provider is the one to provide a “chaperone.” And I recently read about a counselor (not licensed) who only meets with women clients if they consent to his female colleague also being present. In these two situations (as in the one you’ve described with the doctor and his car), the burden of the BGR rule was born by the one who decided to follow it. NOT by the people it was being enforced against. This seems to me to be more fair and tolerable.

    Intriguing approaches, thank you for posting.

    At the hospital where I receive some care, every patient is offered a chaperone at every visit; men and women can ask for this. A chaperone always shows up for certain examinations—but this is based on the type of exam, not on the gender of patient and doctor.

    Regarding the male unlicensed counselor who requires that a female colleague sit in on sessions with a female client, I do think this imposes burdens. I would feel uncomfortable talking to a counselor who viewed my session as inherently risky. The presence of a third party might make clients think twice about describing the very problems they came to discuss. Also: how much is the female colleague getting paid to sit there, not using her own expertise? My guess is that she gets no extra compensation, and her own work just goes undone while she sits there like a traffic cone. (Sorry, that sarcasm is directed at the counselor, not at you.)

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  53. Jeffrey Chalmers,

    I’m thinking about it. I think the reason it made me comfortable was because he asked to have another woman present rather than suggesting one of the male elders. And perhaps he was guessing that I might have an issue he wasn’t really prepared to counsel on and therefore an “elder” (she was only about 4 years older than me) woman would be a good partner. Regardless, I still knew that he did not want to meet alone with me in the basement office of an empty church (no staff, tiny church) on a weekday. And, truth be told, as nice as he was, that would have been awkward.

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  54. Ken A,

    “I am trying to think of someone who thinks all women are Jezabels. I can’t come up with anyone.”
    ++++++++++++

    no one would self-describe that way. no one thinks they themselves are unfair or unreasonable.

    yet at times a person’s beliefs betray them.

    some years ago my husband and I (and kids) were looking for a church that we all could ‘buy into’, and be a part of in a positive way.

    we visited many churches. in every church the pastor cheerfully approached my husband in greeting. shook his hand, engaged in enthusiastic conversation.

    i was standing right next to my husband, assuming I was part of it all. it was as if i was invisible. 100% ignored. turns out i didn’t exist.

    on one occasion my husband interjected and introduced me. the pastor wouldn’t make eye contact with me. no handshake. no words, even.

    eventually my kids tried out a youth group at yet another church. I wanted to meet the youth director, thank him for what he was doing…

    i approached him, he was flanked on either side by 2 male friends.

    i introduced myself, put out my hand in friendly greeting… he sort of glanced at it but did nothing.

    i ignored the slight and proceeded to say the positive things i intended to say. he sort of smiled and he and his friends just walked passed me.

    it was like the 3 of them presented themselves as a united front in defiance against me — as if his friends were kind of like body guards to protect him from me.

    it was weird, and quite frankly a dehumanizing experience. a not unfamiliar bruised feeling, but with a sickly feeling attached to it. deeply hurtful.

    so, no christian thinks they see all women as jezebels.

    no christian thinks there’s anything wrong with treating women as if they are invisible or an entity to be ignored, pretending they are not present, not worthy of their acknowledgement.

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  55. GuyBehindtheCurtain: If you will look immediately above where you type your comments there is a link “Click here for our commenting rules.” It is all spelled out there. And if you think we have too many rules, all of them are due to what someone did on this blog.

    Thank you. I have read them in the past and as Dee said, I used a word in my response that the moderation rules caught. I respect that. Other than that, I have always tried to keep my comments on point. And even though I have disagreed with Dee at times, she has been gracious in allowing me to continue to post here. I have learned a lot of things here. Especially some of the things that hardly anyone in the evangelically controlled media world report on. Abuse perpetrated by so called pastors and leaders. Much of it is poo-poo-ed by men like Johnny Mac. And the whole Mark Driscoll saga, was exposed here first, before other, bigger venues exposed him. And I thank you for that.

    Yes, I am a Calvinist, and yes, I know John Piper. And I respect him. And yes, I know that most here reject his complementarian views. I don’t particularly hold to them in the same way he does. Anyway, thank again.

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  56. Ken A: In our day of so many high profile Christians falling to temptation, we see Billy Graham in contrast. Can anyone charge Bill Graham with falling to sexual sin? It may not be for everyone. However, Billy Graham was in this area without fault that we knew of. Rest his soul he set a good example.

    Jesus set a far better example with no BG rule as it’s called.

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  57. elastigirl: Ken A,
    “I am trying to think of someone who thinks all women are Jezabels. I can’t come up with anyone.”
    ++++++++++++
    no one would self-describe that way. no one thinks they themselves are unfair or unreasonable.
    yet at times a person’s beliefs betray them.

    If a micro-agression is unconscious, is it unintentional? Is it unwillingness to consider another person as a fellow human being? Is it just extremely arrogant? If many of us women have experienced these with male leadership in particular types of churches unwilling to examine these stories and no compassion (no action) to try to teach against these behaviors, why would any woman hang out with there?

    “You know, I couldn’t read a book if the main character was a woman.” This was said to me in a small group setting , one to one, after the group conversations were over. This small group was sponsored by a supposedly egalitarian conservative denomination, which had a weekly men’s Bible study. I noticed more and more that Driscoll and JP resources were used. This is not a friendship friendly place.

    “I’d be afraid of you if I didn’t have a Masters in Divinity.” and “You’ve got to admit the Bible is mainly about men.” This was said to me when I asked a pastor after his “Great Hall of Faith” sermon why he didn’t include any women and then listed a few for him to consider. And this was in a supposedly egalitarian conservative denomination. This is not a friendship friendly place.

    I wonder when I’ll forget these absurd statements? In the meantime I have no desire to set foot in these types of church environments again. I’m looking for a place where women and men are considered to have a large amount of being in common, that of being human.

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  58. Ella,

    “If a micro-agression is unconscious, is it unintentional? Is it unwillingness to consider another person as a fellow human being? Is it just extremely arrogant?”
    +++++++++++++++++

    this is how i see it:

    it’s a dream come true when an adult’s inner-child-at-12-years-old is informed that God wants them to be an alpha male.

    i don’t think they’re capable of much more.

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  59. ES,

    Not even knowing what the topic was, I get that. There are some things that a woman is more likely to have experienced than a man (and vice versa), so the level of understanding can be different.

    Which is all the more reason, in my opinion, why BOTH genders are needed in leadership roles. Because the average woman is going to bring insight to the table that the average man may lack, and vice versa.

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  60. Friend,

    My hospital is not as enlightened, chaperones have definitely been based on gender.

    I am frankly not thrilled with the counselor’s solution, either, but find it at least tolerable. And I don’t know the answers to your questions. For context, he is a racial minority who has been on the receiving end of some unpleasant macro-agressions (what’s the word for something so blatant it can’t be considered a micro-agression?) in his counseling role.

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  61. elastigirl: i should see it. for the sake of art, and the pursuit of integrity and excellence in art.

    It’s worth a look-see.
    Back then, film-makers were a different breed than the ones of present day.
    Back then, telling a story was the most important thing.
    Nowadays?
    Not so much (in broad general terms).
    Are there exceptions?
    Of course there are.

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  62. Ella: I wonder when I’ll forget these absurd statements? In the meantime I have no desire to set foot in these types of church environments again. I’m looking for a place where women and men are considered to have a large amount of being in common, that of being human.

    Churches that refuse to apply reason, bend with the times, and insist on trying to emulate a bronze age desert culture will die out.

    Try a Lutheran (ELCA) congregation.
    We allow women in the pulpit, and we don’t obsess over who has what plumbing and who can do what and not what based on plumbing.

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  63. Ella,

    “I wonder when I’ll forget these absurd statements? …I’m looking for a place where women and men are considered to have a large amount of being in common, that of being human.”
    ++++++++++++++

    i understand.

    i remind myself that Jesus neither said nor implied nor did his actions in any way support the gender discrimination bullsh|t that these gospel blockheads enjoy talking about so much.

    really, it just puts their neediness on display for all to see.

    whatever this religion has become, it neither resembles Jesus nor sounds like Jesus.

    i believe there are places like what you are looking for. you could put a personals ad out there:

    “self-assured woman seeking christians who…..”

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  64. Muff Potter: Try a Lutheran (ELCA) congregation.

    Thanks.

    I appreciate others thoughts on their experiences with other denominations. I’ve never attended a Lutheran church, except for weddings or funerals. I have friends I studied with who attended an ELCA church. I’ve known others who’ve had experience with LMS churches. I’m glad to hear that you’ve had good experience with the ELCA denomination and to hear that you think it might fit my description of a friendly place.

    I should have said “I”m dreaming of a place….” cause I’m pretty content right now to just have a few book clubs I’m a part of and stay in touch with family and friends scattered about. But, I’ve been taking mental notes about various denominations mentioned.

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  65. elastigirl: i remind myself that Jesus neither said nor implied nor did his actions in any way support the gender discrimination bullsh|t that these gospel blockheads enjoy talking about so much.

    Yes, thanks.

    I try to remind myself of this, too, and am glad that it makes this kind of sense to me.

    I’m also grateful for people who aren’t church people who are my friends.

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  66. Jeffrey Chalmers:
    ES,

    This is an a great example of “wisdom”, which seems to be short supply these days in the American Church, and much of America Society these days.

    The church is too busy chasing Visionary Visions and Tongues Tongues Tongues to bother with Wisdom.
    Never mind that Wisdom was the number-one priority through Tanakh and NT.
    In English, the worst insults are Sexual or Scatological.
    In German, to (lack of) Intelligence.
    In Russian, to (lack of) cultured behavior.
    In Hebrew and Yiddish, to (lack of) Wisdom.

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  67. Ken A,
    Might I point something out? And that is that you can speak to your personal experience- it’s your life and what you’ve been through.

    At the same time, that’s *you* and not all of the billions of men in this world. Everyone is different, and I don’t necessarily think it’s a good idea to assume that *all* young (straight) men react exactly the same. Additionally, there are other sexual orientations, and I’m not talking about LGBTQ+ people. There are many people who are literally describing themselves as asexual. They might have strong romantic feelings for another person, but they’re not interested in having sex with them. I think a whole lot of straight folks have been making huge assumptions about anyone who’s not married or dating someone. They slap the “gay” label on them without even stopping to consider whether they’re making a snap judgment or inaccurate assumption. (It’s happened to me, and I’m straight.)

    There are a lot of asexual folk out there, and only now do some feel comfortable speaking about this. The internet has helped them to connect with each other, as well as to educate.

    Just one example of it being, imo, not a good idea to generalize.

    The other part of this has everything to do with how most evangelical churches view men and women. To put it bluntly, it’s very emotionally immature. Instead of letting people develop friendships in a truly grownup way, they put a great, great deal of pressure on people to treat others (women especially) as *solely* sexual beings who are like the temptresses described in Proverbs. (Which is, sad to say, a pretty damning text where women are concerned, though not entirely so.) Yes, people can get into what I’ll call “inappropriate” relationships, but what if we’re so focused on that that we miss the plain fact that it’s very likely that both men and women are much more than the sum of their respective libidos?!

    What if people miss out on good friendships b/c they’re so worried that the situation will inevitably turn sexual?

    I’m describing real-life things and people here, not hypotheticals. Though I will admit that there’s a certain freedom for me personally in being good friends with gay men, for the fact that there’s seldom anything going on in the realm of sexual tension. (But not always, b/c gay men are sometimes attracted to specific women – as with everything else, it varies from person to person.)

    I understand that you’ve been taught certain things and that you’ve experienced what you’ve experienced, but the generalizations you’re making are actually extremely limiting and often completely untrue.

    I’ve heard the same stuff, but in thinking back to my Lutheran upbringing, I can’t think of a single instance where this kind of thinking was imposed on us in any way. That *doesn’t* mean that the church/denomination was unconcerned about sexuality, sexual relationships, developmental changes in teens and young adults, etc. Their approach was and is light years off from that of most evangelical churches, though. I think that the people who did Sunday school, etc. were genuinely more concerned that we grew up to be well-rounded, emotionally mature human beings. That went for boys and girls (not to mention adults) alike.

    I was very, very fortunate to be able to revert to my Lutheran background after an extremely traumatic time within evangelical churches. I knew that their way of doing things wasn’t the *only* way. And it’s got its flaws, like anything we humans create. But the attitude toward women, sex and much more is a lot heathier, generally speaking, than anything I ever encountered within evangelicalism. (There were a couple of exceptions, but even those were very limited and limiting.)

    People are responsible for their own behavior and reactions. To blame it on a huge segment of the human race and thus avoid taking responsibility is just plain wrong.

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  68. Ken A,

    There’s one other thing that I believe most evangelicals have difficulty with, and that’s the existence of sexual feelings and attraction.

    There’s simply having sexual feelings, which is normal and healthy. But the assumption that one’s feelings will inevitably lead to doing something inappropriate or wrong? Imo, that’s *way* off, and burdens people unnecessarily.

    Unfortunately, the two things are conflated (and confused) a great deal of the time.

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  69. numo: But the attitude toward women, sex and much more is a lot heathier, generally speaking, than anything I ever encountered within evangelicalism. (There were a couple of exceptions, but even those were very limited and limiting.

    I’ve observed much the same thing as a ‘returned’ Lutheran, after years in the fundagelical wasteland.

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  70. numo: There’s simply having sexual feelings, which is normal and healthy. But the assumption that one’s feelings will inevitably lead to doing something inappropriate or wrong? Imo, that’s *way* off, and burdens people unnecessarily.

    “And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.”
    —- Luke 11:46 —-

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  71. numo,

    evangelicalism is terrified of sex.

    and then they throw themselves in the deep end to overcome the fear of water.

    they come out of the pool dripping with smug heroism.

    and pressure-preach both fear of water and the mandate to jump in the deep end and fear of water and….

    “NO, DON’T TOUCH IT! NO, NO, DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT TOUCHING IT.”

    “men, it is normal to have sex 3 times a day. if you’re not, there’s something wrong with you.”

    “women, be the appliance you were created to be. there will be nothing further, you can go now.”

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  72. numo: I think a whole lot of straight folks have been making huge assumptions about anyone who’s not married or dating someone. They slap the “gay” label on them without even stopping to consider whether they’re making a snap judgment or inaccurate assumption.

    Just like at my High School.

    “They have never left High School. They will never leave High School. And they will never, ever let the rest of us leave THEIR High School.”
    — some now-defunct blog (“The Anchoress”?) over 20 years ago.

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  73. numo: There are a lot of asexual folk out there, and only now do some feel comfortable speaking about this. The internet has helped them to connect with each other, as well as to educate.

    Asexuals (“Aces”) are easy to explain.
    They’re just at the totally opposite end of the bell curve from nymphomaniacs.

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  74. elastigirl: evangelicalism is terrified of sex.

    and then they throw themselves in the deep end to overcome the fear of water.

    they come out of the pool dripping with smug heroism.

    Great comment!
    And for the most part it’s true.
    Unauthorized sex is theeeeee absolute worst thing there is in fundagelicalism.
    Molest kids in the youth group you head up?
    They’ll hide it from the cops and ‘restore’ you.
    Craft laws that take away rights from LGBTQ folks?
    They’ll give you a medal.

    Get caught doing the hanky-panky with another consenting adult?
    Your goose is cooked, your hash is settled.

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  75. Muff Potter: Unauthorized sex is theeeeee absolute worst thing there is in fundagelicalism.
    Molest kids in the youth group you head up?
    They’ll hide it from the cops and ‘restore’ you.
    Craft laws that take away rights from LGBTQ folks?
    They’ll give you a medal.

    Get caught doing the hanky-panky with another consenting adult?
    Your goose is cooked, your hash is settled.

    It’s so @@@backwards it’s beyond absurd. I can’t engage with most of it anymore. I just lose my head.

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