The Billy Graham Rule

This is one topic we have not discussed in almost 10 years of posting. There are some misconceptions about this rule that tend to have unbelievers criticize it. The quotes we will make all come from this link.

It stands to reason that atheists and unbelievers always come to the wrong conclusion when examining Christian behavior and rules. They are not as intuitive, rational, or logical as they like to claim.

Plus, they like to dismiss the truth because it does not fit their narrative or their hatred of all things Christian. Here is the Billy Graham rule (BGR):

One aspect of it that has arisen is that the BG Rule, the man of God (pastor, evangelist, or other male Christian figure) will not be alone with any woman not his wife, Billy Graham and his team establishing that practice early on in his evangelistic ministry.

Given the number of sexual problems many Christian pastors and church leaders seem to be falling into recently, one would think that the unbelievers would applaud this type of rule and encourage it to be practiced.

After all, they are the first to point out any situation that may not be appropriate when members of the clergy and opposite sex get together even in innocent encounters.

We like the Billy Graham rule and even though we are not in a professional ministry capacity, we avoid being alone with women, not our wives. Not only does it save on marital problems, but it also helps keep our wives from being led to sin– jealousy, hatred, the wrong anger, suspicion, and so on.

The Billy Graham rule does not just protect the male religious leaders from sinning or being thought of as putting themselves ‘in the appearance of evil’ situation. When one declares that they love their wife, why would they want to be alone with another woman?

But unbelievers and atheists do not see it this way and have made assumptions about the rule or leapt to conclusions that were not even in the minds of most people who follow this rule. They say:

The rule has been adopted by many of the brethren (it was recommended to me as a ministerial standard when I was ordained decades ago) and is held up as a shield against the wiles of the devil and all those devilish women who would “take a pastor down.”

If a brother wants to pattern his relationships and interactions with females in this manner, he may do so. But he might be apprised that such is highly sexist, presumes all women to be potential steamy seductresses, and makes it appear that he, the pillar of male rectitude, is powerless to resist; thus, the hard and fast rule about ever being with any woman alone other than his beloved wife.

The problem here is that these explanations are not totally untrue. There are women who want to take a pastor, etc., down and there are people behind the woman looking to do the same thing. It may not be a common occurrence but it is a possibility.

Then, isn’t it the secular world that has taught people that ‘it is better to be safe than sorry’? Why are they complaining now when believers are trying to be safe rather than sorry they ruined their marriage?

There is the problem of the situation where some women are enamored by the spiritual leader and want to have sex with him. It happens to rock stars, athletes, and politicians, why can’t that happen to religious leaders? In fact, it does.

It is not that women are a seductress or a jezebel but have a hard time controlling their attraction emotion. When men do it, they are called ‘stalkers’. Yet, if men resist these female stalkers, they are the ones being accused of doing something wrong.

There is the possibility that church leaders are attacked by atheists over the BGR because the latter is jealous of the religious leader and wants to bring the former down to their sinful level. Of course, a believer can’t win with unbelievers as nothing a believer does pleases them.

This is why Christians are only to please God. He is the one to be obeyed and this attitude extends to worship, justice, legal matters, and relationships, etc. The unbeliever may think this is sexist but they ignore the fact that the BGR also applies to religious women.

Not that they can’t be alone with other women, but they should not be alone with a man who is not their husbands. The same reasons apply. While some women think it is just a friend, they need to remember that many ‘best friends’ have slept with their ‘friends’ wives.

There is no sexism being applied with the BGR. There is also no sexism in biblical instructions that are not gender specific. Women have to follow them just like men do.

This kind of thinking, of course, teaches men a warped view of women and human sexuality. While I agree that humans are sexual beings — a trait necessary for our species’ propagation — it does not follow that every time two people of the opposite sex are alone with each other, sexual intercourse is a real and distinct possibility.

The last part may be accurate but the Bible says to avoid the appearance of evil as even gossip, rumor, misunderstanding, et al, can ruin a ministry, send out a false reputation and damage the work of Christ.

It is best to leave the door open and stop those innuendos, the gossip, and so on before they start making the rounds. Maintaining a reputation of integrity, honesty, trustfulness, and so on is far more important than closing a door or spending time alone with a woman or man you are not married to.

According to Ellis [Can Men and Women be Friends], all men should live according to “Billy Graham-Mike Pence Rule.” I say all, and not just married men, because Ellis, who describes himself as a conservative Christian, likely believes that it is a sin for unmarrieds to have sex.

It is sin and these words ad the following paragraphs after the quote only indicate the real problem. Atheists and unbelievers are rebelling against God’s rules. They do not want to live by the standards God gave so they attack anyone who does and mock the rules they live by.

We agree that unmarried men should not be alone with women they are not married to for the very same reasons that married men should not. And no, it is not just the woman who would be at fault.

Men have trouble controlling themselves when they are with an attractive woman and the woman is not guilty when certain men try to be more ‘romantic’ in these situations.

The reason we are including men here is that we recognize that women are not 100% at fault. Men share the blame and they should take the lead like Mr. Graham did and set the rules and the tone for all encounters with the opposite sex.

They are the leaders after all and they need to show biblical leadership even in these times.

Ellis, Graham, and Pence would likely object to my characterization of their beliefs, but it seems clear, at least to me, that women are treated as dangerous, seductive beings who must be avoided lest being alone with them leads to intercourse on office and study floors.

Leave it to the unbeliever and the atheist to distort the issue and the reasons why Mr. Graham made that rule and many evangelical men follow it. Since those groups of people do not acknowledge evil, they place the blame on the thinking of other humans.

They do not see that while the encounter may be innocent, evil can create temptations that are hard to resist. Or evil can influence the thinking of either person by drawing their attention to the physical and using the spiritual experience as the reason.

Reasons like ‘he is the first man that understands me’ or ‘she is the first woman that truly cares about me’ or something similar are all used to lead people to sin and men and women have to be on guard to avoid taking the encounter the wrong way.

Pray without ceasing is a good defense when these feelings and emotions rise. This is not to say that the other person is bad or evil. It is recognizing one’s own weaknesses and taking the right steps to prevent sin from happening.

It is also recognizing the fact that besides God there is an evil spiritual force in the world seeking to destroy anyone they can. God is the only defense that will defeat this evil.

Then while one may be doing this spiritual defense, it is not a given that the other person is and when they are not, bad things will still take place. Do not be naive. Just because the person is a church leader does not mean that they are practicing everything God wants them to do.

One pastor left his faith because even after God warned him that an elder was doing something wrong, the pastor wouldn’t believe it because the elder was a nice guy, etc.

As it turned out, the elder was molesting the pastor’s daughter. Yet, God gets the blame and the pastor walks away from Him. The BGR is a warning to people of what may happen if you are not careful and continue to play with fire.

Some people may think they know best, but this is not about what you think. That attitude opens the door to evil working its way in and ruining your life. When one is a believer it is about what God thinks and his rules are to be obeyed even when the unbelieving world disagrees.

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