Skip to content
9 Comments leave one →
  1. March 30, 2017 8:49 pm

    It also makes me wonder that where it seems to be positive and subjective for Graham, it is negative, defensive and objectification for Pence.

  2. March 31, 2017 8:20 am

    Thanks for your comment, pvcann! Yes, there seems to be a sharp contrast between how Graham and Pence apply the rule in the end.

    And yet I’d caution us not to fall into a binary way of “either / or” thinking that leads to these sorts of rules and to their wide application against other human beings in the first place. For example, Ty Griggs says he has “been most surprised at how strongly people feel about the rule on both sides.” There seems to be polar opposition:

    So it would seem that we have two values in competition with one another. Do we value the sanctity of marriage and preserving fidelity or do we value the full inclusion and dignity of women in the church? It’s a sucker’s choice.

    And even in the construction of the rule there seems to be an assumption of a binary difference between males and their female counterparts (or for those husbands in hierarchical male-chief marriages their complements or their helpmeets). Griggs observes:

    Men are portrayed as being especially vulnerable to sexual temptation, while women are portrayed as the dangerous source of that temptation.

    What’s striking to me is the literary origins of this rule. Again there’s this sort of pure ideal of a good preacher set against a very flawed and fallen sort of evangelist. Billy Graham and his male colleagues have read the novel Elmer Gantry by the Nobel Prize winning Sinclair Lewis (or perhaps they’ve watched the film version in which Burt Lancaster plays the preacher). Out of this anti-Elmer-Gantry ideal, the real-life preacher and his pals come up with their “informal understanding – shared commitment to do” list. The “Billy Graham Rule” not to be alone with a woman is the only item on the list of ‘to dos’ “to uphold the Bible’s standard of absolute integrity and purity for [male] evangelists” that has a Bible verse associated with it. At least it’s the only one that Billy Graham places a Bible verse rationale next to in his autobiography.

    The real ironies in this, I think, are that Elmer Gantry was seduced in church, in public, and not alone, in private, with a woman. We might return to the text, and read:

    “Great snakes! Regular circus lay-out! Just what you’d expect from a fool woman evangelist!” decided Elmer.

    The top platform was still unoccupied; presumably it was to set off the charms of Miss Sharon Falconer.

    The mixed choir, with their gowns and mortar-boards, chanted “Shall We Gather at the River?” A young man, slight, too good-looking, too arched of lip, wearing a priest’s waistcoat and collar turned round, read from Acts at a stand on the second platform. He was an Oxonian, and it was almost the first time that Elmer had heard an Englishman read.

    “Huh! Willy-boy, that’s what he is! This outfit won’t get very far. Too much skirts. No punch. No good old-fashioned gospel to draw the customers,” scoffed Elmer.

    A pause. Every one waited, a little uneasy. Their eyes went to the top platform. Elmer gasped. Coming from some refuge behind the platform, coming slowly, her beautiful arms outstretched to them, appeared a saint. She was young, Sharon Falconer, surely not thirty, stately, slender and tall; and in her long slim face, her black eyes, her splendor of black hair, was rapture or boiling passion. The sleeves of her straight white robe, with its ruby girdle, were slashed, and fell away from her arms as she drew every one to her.

    “God!” prayed Elmer Gantry, and that instant his planless life took on plan and resolute purpose. He was going to have Sharon Falconer.

    And for Emer Gantry to follow 2 Timothy 2:22 KJV would require him not only to flee youthful lusts in private lunches with women but also also to avoid women in his congregation altogether:

    It was not easy to go on saying with proper conviction that whosoever looked on a woman to lust after her would go booming down to hell when there was a pretty and admiring girl in the front row.

    The rule seems based in the binary and requires the segregation of men from women. It’s not just extreme masculinist Christians who do this by the way. Extreme masculinist Muslims do it too. With a bit of a warning as to how ugly and awful this is, let me share this link to a few photos:

    Pvcann, I like how you get us to see “where it seems to be positive and subjective for Graham.” This to me seems very important.

    For Graham, much credit is due to Hillary Clinton.


  3. March 31, 2017 11:55 am

    I was sitting by the window having breakfast, my wife of 49 years just across the room, meditating on this post, and happy in my spirit that Kurk had posted – he doesn’t do this very often any more, and thinking that maybe I should respond, for conversations are rare these days in the blog world, when it occurred to me that Jesus had this conversation alone with a woman at a well in Samaria.

    And I thought, it is not the private thought but the public image. Evangelists concerned for their public image are contrary to the Gospel, any gospel. This is not evangelism, but a business. We are not saving souls but collecting revenue, even if it is lawfully distributed. These days the ‘safe’ churches are in the hands of the insurance companies and protect their assets from suit by having people who work in the church get police record checks, and follow the rule that only three people can gather, not two or three. Is the Spirit not to be trusted with two?

    With respect to sex and gender, I think the talk is all wrong. We have failed to know the love of God and no amount of hedging around our internally roasting deserts can remedy us. The hedges must be burned.

    Speaking personally, I, from about age 13 onward, should not have had lunch with anyone alone or with others ‘at the board’. I appreciate beauty and competence and am greatly attracted to others – though at my age and after things like cancer treatments, the pitcher is broken at the fountain. But the love of God is not constrained. And we are to learn self-control but not by isolation. And we are to learn respect for the other of all stripes, but not solely through a legal framework. And we are worthy of hire, but not through exploitation of desire or fear. God teaches these things. And we learn this by our faith in the death of Jesus, or by our faith in the reality of the circumcision, or by our faith in the mercy of the Holy One. And we learn painfully through our own failures so there is something to rejoice about: that the reality of God has seeped through our defenses from before we were born and tried and found wanting. But such a want is to be filled by the ultimate other – see Job 42.

    וַיָּ֣מָת אִיּ֔וֹב זָקֵ֖ן וּשְׂבַ֥ע יָמִֽים

    blessings to the real KG and his correspondents.

  4. March 31, 2017 4:17 pm

    Thank you, Bob, for taking time to share your thoughts and perceptions so richly. “Jesus had this conversation alone with a woman at a well in Samaria.” All sorts of rules are broken in that short story. There’s this little detail in it about this man being not just alone with that woman but also thirsty and tired. The rule of HALT of many in AA and in NA and in SA and in AlAnon and so forth is violated. (Don’t find yourself hungry, angry, lonely, or tired.) Those are subtle details as to the vulnerabilities of this man and that woman. The story highlights the fact that he is a man and she a woman, he a pure Jew and she not, and so forth. To make a rule out of 2 Tim. 2:22 KJV or out of the AA Big Book or any such thing when people are in the mix seems a little difficult for all people. Thank you for you blessings. And blessings to you, my friend, and to your wife of 49 years, and to your children.

  5. fazsha permalink
    November 27, 2017 4:54 am

    I think it’s a good idea not to dine privately with a woman. I’m not saying I would lust after any woman – a granny does nothing for me – but if I was to have dinner with a beautiful woman, I would naturally be drawn to her, even if I wasn’t married. Beautiful women are designed by God to attract men, and if you want to not give in to temptation, first recognize what would create temtation. Look how Hillary was able to fool Billy Graham into thinking what a fine Christian woman she was by just acting like a Christian. I’m sure she didn’t discuss with him how she smeared a young girl who was raped, just because she thought it was her duty under the law to do so. How can she justify her faith while accepting bribes as a public official? Why does she call people like me ‘deplorable’, when what we want is for the government to stop stealing money from taxpayers to redistribute? Why was it so important for her to have lunch in person with Graham in front of all of Washington, instead of respecting his wishes and instead have a phone conversation? Don’t you think part of what Graham wanted was to not ever give Ruth cause to worry? Wives have good reason to worry when their husbands have private dinners with beautiful women. If nothing else, how does she know that when he makes love to her that night that he’s not imagining bending over his dinner companion instead?

  6. February 21, 2018 5:19 pm

    Trackback 3. to this post here seems originally to be posted here.


  1. Weekend Links: April 8, 2017 Edition - The Junia Project
  2. Women who taught Jesus (and what he learned from them) | BLT
  3. Will Billy Graham Dine With Women in Heaven?  – The ProActive Family

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: