Friday, May 18, 2018

The Billy Graham rule

i) Vice President Pence revived debate over the Billy Graham rule. According to that rule, a man shouldn't be alone with a woman other than his wife. Presumably, the Graham rule has an implicit codicil for female relatives. 

I think the rule is extreme. In a way it's similar to Muslim sensibilities. According to Muslim mores, men and women are sexual animals with no more impulse control than an animal in heat. A woman is a seductress simply by virtue of being a woman. As such, it's necessity to protect men from women by putting women in burkas. Protect the roving eyes of men from moth-like attraction to the candle. By the same token, it's necessary to subject adolescent girls to cliorectomies, according to the savage logic that if they don't find sexual intercourse physically enjoyable, they won't be tempted to commit premarital or extramarital sex. It says something about Islam that Muslim men want sex with women who don't want sex with them. But that's one of the many cultural pathologies of Islam. 

ii) That said, while I don't defend the rule, I respect the motivation. The only thing that deters most men and women from promiscuity is religious restraint or fear of repercussions. Indeed, a major reason many people commit apostasy or never consider Christianity in the first place is due to Christian sexual ethics (i.e. monogamy). 

iii) Although the rule is an overreaction, it is prudent to avoid gratuitous sexual temptation.  

iv) Ironically, the people who mock Pence for following the Billy Graham rule are apt to be the very same people mocking Trump's Hollywood sexual lifestyle. No attempt to be logically or morally consistent. 

v) Finally, it's my impression that the Billy Graham rule had a specific background. When you consider the experience that gave rise to the rule, it's not so easy to ridicule. According to Templeton's memoir:

Billy and I had taken two days off in Copenhagen and were scheduled to join the others in Paris. We arrived a day early and wandered the streets, grateful that the city had not been pulverized as London had. Paris was thronging with Allied soldiers on leave and seemed a city of prostitutes. They paraded the main thoroughfares, soliciting openly. In civilian clothes, we were particular targets. On a daylight walk down the Champs Elysees from the Arc de Triomphe to our hotel we were accosted at least fifty times. The girls stood in front of us, impeding our progress, whispering. One threw open her fur coat to reveal that she was wearing nothing but a garter belt and stocking. Billy's face was grim. "Chuck," he said, "we've got to get out of here." We set off at a half trot, literally shoving the girls aside.

Inside the hotel lobby, laughing and breathless, I turned to Billy and said, saying it for both of us, "My Lord!"

That evening we went looking for a restaurant. We chanced  upon an attractive and "very French" place. It had a fairly large room with a bar to one side, the tables arranged around a postage-stamp-size dance floor. A trio of blacks were playing American blues. We ordered Cokes and looked about. I'd told Billy not to worry about the menu; my high-school French would suffice. In fact, I was immediately at a loss when the waitress began to respond to my questions.

Two girls stopped at our table, and before we were quite aware of what was happening, joined us and ordered drinks. They were very young, not yet in their twenties, and quite beautiful. Neither spoke English. I tried to carry on a conversation but was soon at sea. Attempting a compliment, I said to one of them, "Vous avez tres beaux chevaux rouge." When they burst into laughter I realized that I had told her she had beautiful red horses, rather than beautiful red cheveux, hair.

Our meal came and we proceeded to eat it, two simultaneous conversations going on; Billy and I in English and the girls in French. As we paid the check, it became clear that they were planning to leave with us. I tired to make excuses but each had taken an arm and, as we emerged into the street, clutched tightly. My girl was pointing toward a massive apartment block across the street, Billy's was pulling him away. Over a shoulder, he gave me a despairing look. I grimaced and said, "Guess we'll have to walk  them home." In truth, we didn't know how to extricate ourselves. 

Inside the apartment building, a broad staircase led to the second floor. As we mounted the stairs- wanting to get out of my predicament but not sure how to-I spied a W.C. on the landing. I pointed and said, "Excusez." It occurred to me that I had wandered into danger and was at risk of being mugged. In the W.C. I looked for a place to hide my wallet; in it was all my money and identification. I stood on the toilet bowl, reached up and stashed it on top of the water chamber. As I emerged the girl was talking to a rough-looking man who turned and went quickly down the hall. She called out to me, "Viens ici." I shook my head, said, "Non, Non" and went down the stairs three at a time. Outside, I watched until I saw her come out and cross the street to the restaurant. I went back up the stairs, retrieved my wallet and returned to our hotel.

At the hotel, no Billy. An hour passed. When two hours had gone, I began to worry. I considered calling the police but realized that there was little I could tell them; I had no idea where he might be. Close to midnight, he burst through the door, panting, his face shining with perspiration, his hair dishevelled, his tie in a pocket, the collar of his shirt open. 

He threw himself on the bed breathing heavily. "Chuck, you have no idea what's happened to me. I thought I was going to walk the girl home and the leave her, but she hailed a cab. We drove and drove and drove. Somewhere outside the city in a dark little suburb, the cabby stopped. He didn't speak any English, neither did she, and I couldn't understand what he was saying about the fare. I took the money from my wallet and held it out, expecting him to do what the London cabbies do- take what was his and leave the rest. He took it all. 

"The girl had me by the arm and she led me toward this place where she lived. It was a dump. We got inside and she closed the door. I was trying to think of something I could say or do to let her know I was leaving. She went over to the bed, and without a word, unbuttoned her dress, tossed it aside and fell back on the bed. And Chuck, she was stark naked! 

"I turned, opened the door and got out of there. In the street, I started to run. I don't know how far I ran; it could have been a mile or two. When finally I stopped, I looked around. I had no idea where I was. I was going to hail a cab, and then realized I didn't have any money. I asked some people the way to the downtown area but they just looked at me or rattled on in French. So I started to walk. I walked and walked and walked until I saw the Eiffel Tower in the distance. Then I knew where I was..."


  1. I don't think it's a necessary rule to follow, but I do think it's a VERY prudent one to follow. Especially for those in ministry, since they have a spiritual target on their backs which demons are constantly aiming for. The Rule does two important things. 1. it helps protects one's witness, reputation and ministry from calumny; 2. helps protect one from succumbing to temptation that may be much greater than one expects when the situation presents itself. It was a prudent rule before the advent of social media, but even more so now with everyone having cell phone cameras and twitter accounts et cetera.

    I don't know if there's any truth to the allegations against Bill Hybels, but if he had practiced the Rule, it would have been much more difficult for his accusers to make the charges. As well as have helped prevent him from committing any improprieties if he had committed them. ""The alleged behavior included suggestive comments, extended hugs, an unwanted kiss, and invitations to hotel rooms," according to the Tribune."

    I suspect there are many ministers who have committed adultery who started the day with no intention to do so when they started their day. I also suspect that those Christians who are most in danger of committing sexual improprieties are at the extremes of the spiritual spectrum. The spiritually weakest Christians because they are easy pickings for demonic temptation, and the spiritual giants since they are specially targeted by the demonic hierarchy to make them less effective in their prayer life and ministry of love to others in the Name of Jesus.

  2. I'd agree. People gossip, and unfortunately, a lie can destroy one's career just as easily as the truth.

  3. Speaking of Billy Graham, I've always enjoyed Erwin Lutzer's impression of the young Billy Graham: