If you don’t know anything at all about Christian ethics or faith-related teachings on marriage - and judging from the Twitterverse and fans of the Huffington Post, they don’t - you might find it strange that Mike Pence restrains his behavior in certain ways out of respect for his wife. Now, if you were a serious person, or even just a curious one, you might want to learn more about why he does these things. He’s had a pretty darn successful marriage, after all, so the Pences must be doing something right.
But if you’re the type of people who dominate these corners of social media, you’ll skip all that and just go straight to mockery. Because that’s the kind of person you are. How much does Mike Pence respect his wife Karen? A lot. So much, in fact, that he voluntarily avoids certain situations that would almost certainly be innocuous, just to go the extra mile and ensure there is never even the slightest hint of broken trust in the marriage. This is known among Christians as the Billy Graham rule, because it tracks with limits Rev. Graham has long placed on his own behavior.
Mocking what it doesn’t understand, HuffPo elaborates:
Believe it or not, two people of the opposite sex eating together doesn’t always end in a night of unbridled passion.
On Tuesday, a Washington Post profile about Karen Pence, wife to Vice President Mike Pence, surfaced an intriguing tidbit first revealed to The Hill in 2002. Pence will not eat alone with any woman who is not his wife, nor will he go to any events serving alcohol without his wife alongside him.
The couple’s strict marriage rules have sparked a lot of controversy and some downright mockery. But what really got Twitter riled up, was when conservative blogger Matt Walsh weighed in on Wednesday, asking if there’s ever an “appropriate reason” for a married person to go out for a meal alone with someone of the opposite sex.
Now, as I said, if you’re completely unfamiliar with the world of faith or what happens in it, this might seem crazy to you. Judging from some of the tweets in response to that of Matt Walsh, an awful lot of Twitter users and HuffPo fans thought so - making jokes about bursting into flames and snearing that there’s no connection between eating a sandwich and unbridled sexual passion.
Yeah. Mike Pence knows all that. The Billy Graham rule was not devised because anyone thinks it’s impossible to have lunch without falling into bed together. It’s because we live in a very fallen world that contains temptation everywhere, and consistent boundaries to keep yourself out of certain situations are the best way to stay as far as possible from those temptations. Some people like to come right up to the edge of the line and then decide whether to cross it. Mike Pence prefers to simply stay as far away from the line as he can. That’s not only a pretty reliable way of keeping yourself out of trouble (not to mention avoiding unfounded accusations), it’s also a way to reiterate that your respect for your wife comes before anything else.
Now adherence to the Billy Graham rule is not necessarily unanimous among Christian married men. It tends to be most common among pastors or others in leadership because - in addition to the importance of fidelity, which is for all married men - those in leadership have to be especially careful to avoid situations in which they could be accused, or could give a wrong impression to a vulnerable woman. Pastors counsel their members, and sometimes the member needing help is in an emotionally vulnerable position. When a male pastor is alone with a vulnerable female, that can be all kinds of trouble. The solution may be to always have the door open, or to have the pastor’s wife present.
Secular leftists can scoff at this all they want, but these safeguards pay off when they’re followed consistently.
For my own marriage, my practice is not to be alone with a woman unless Angie knows about it and gives her blessing - and then obviously not to do so in an inappropriate or risky setting. I have female staff members, clients and other associates that I sometimes need to speak with in person, and I can’t always ask Angie to be in attendance because she has her own things to do. In our marriage, we’re very comfortable with handling such situations in that way. But I have nothing but respect for husbands like Mike Pence, who submit themselves to even more stringent requirements to protect against all kinds of things, and simply out of respect for their wives.
That the left finds this worthy of mocking tells you everything you need to know about them, which is one more reason we should not be allowing the left to decide how marriages work in this culture.
Dan Calabrese’s column is distributed by CainTV, which can be found at caintv.com
A new edition of Dan’s book “Powers and Principalities” is now available in hard copy and e-book editions. Follow all of Dan’s work, including his series of Christian spiritual warfare novels, by liking his page on Facebook.
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