Think The “Billy Graham Rule” Would Have Saved Tullian? Think Again… (Billy Graham Rule Has All Christians Treating Single Adult Women as Though They Are Harlots or Temptresses Who Cannot be Trusted)

hink The “Billy Graham Rule” Would Have Saved Tullian? Think Again… (Billy Graham rule has all Christians treating single adult women as though they are harlots who cannot be trusted)

I saw Janet Mefferd (who is a lovely person) tweet this link you see below. She and a few others didn’t seem to like this editorial.

While I do respect Mrs. Mefferd, I disagree with her dislike of this editorial.

Mrs. Mefferd is a married lady, and I assume she’s probably been married for 20 or more years? I do know she has a husband and two or three children.

By contrast, I am over 40 years of age, have never married, have never had sex, have never had children – believe me, when you are a married woman, you have NO IDEA how insulting and terrible churches and Christian culture treats single and/or childless women.

I know because I am single and childless, and I see and encounter the ugly stereotypes and being excluded all on the basis of my single status. Married people are blind to these prejudices against single women, or don’t take them seriously, because they have “Married People Privilege.”

One of the biggest misconceptions and LIES about single adult women is that we are harlots or minxes, we are on the prowl to bed married men.

Again, I’m over 40 and a virgin. If I can and have controlled my libido this long, what on earth gives Christians the right to tell married men to refuse to meet with me alone because I will probably try to rip their pants off? I find this so deeply insulting.

Married Christian women tend to treat single ladies such as myself as threats, even though we are not threats.

Single women such as myself get cut off from getting help or from fellowship because preachers refuse to meet with us alone, not even over a cup of coffee at a Starbuck’s for pete’s sake.

The married women at church treat us single women like we all want to climb into bed with their husbands – news flash: we don’t. So, we don’t get invited over to hang out with the married people.

The Pharisees (religious leaders of Jesus’ day) had similar opinions about women, and how men should handle women: avoid women.

There are ancient accounts of religious leaders (from Jesus’ culture) so averting their gaze to avoid looking at women that they would walk into walls and so forth.

Jesus totally up-ended such stupidity by meeting with all women, even allowing women with questionable pasts to talk to him and touch him (such as the woman who cried on his feet and wiped his feet with her hair).

I will also add that sexual sin performed by a man is that man’s fault. Christians, stop blaming WOMEN for any and all sexual sins committed by men!

It does not matter if a woman is dressed a certain way, or even if she does in fact flirt with a man – at the end of the day, God gives you self control and free will. It is up to you to practice self control and walk away. Stop blaming women for men’s sexual failings!

Enough already. I, a woman, am NOT responsible for how men view me, or if they find me attractive, or if they commit sexual sins.

Many decades ago, famous preacher Billy Graham set up this rule that he would never, ever meet alone with a woman. Many preachers and other Christians today follow this same rule today, and it’s moronic, sexist, and anti-singles. Women get hurt because of this moronic rule.

Christian Patriarchal and Gender Complementarian views tend to sexualize all relationships: Christians in these mindsets believe that a woman’s greatest godly role in life is to marry and have children; her only or primary value is getting pregnant.

When you have a system in place such as this, where women are reduced to brood mares, and it’s unacceptable or considered shameful or a failure for women to be single, childless, and celibate (despite the fact Jesus taught it’s fine for adult women to be single and celibate), you will reduce women to nothing but sex machines, to persons valued only for having a vaginas, for being baby-making machines. (Women are valued only for their sexuality and sexual body parts by Christians, in other words.)

Restore respect for celibacy, singleness, and equality among the genders in Christianity, and I feel a lot of these backwards, insulting views about women can be halted. There is very little reason to tell Christian men to treat all women (especially unmarried ones) with suspicion and to refuse to meet alone with them.

Here’s the link that Mrs. Mefferd didn’t agree with, but which I do agree with:

(Link):  Think The “Billy Graham Rule” Would Have Saved Tullian? Think Again… by Ty Grigg


  • On June 21, Tullian Tchividjian, megachurch pastor and grandson of Billy Graham, resigned from Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (Link): admitting he had had an inappropriate relationship with another woman. The sad news of a pastor’s infidelity raises collective anxiety and fear among evangelical congregations and pastors as they consider the potential for moral failure in their own context. It also adds to the fear and mistrust between the genders in the Church.
  • Men are portrayed as being especially vulnerable to sexual temptation, while women are portrayed as the dangerous source of that temptation.
  • Women tempt. Men fall.
  • (Link): Since I first wrote about the “Billy Graham Rule” a year ago, I have been most surprised at how strongly people feel about the rule on both sides.  One side argues that we should do whatever it takes to protect men (especially pastors) from adultery. The other side cries out that women are being excluded in the church. Where pastors are still mostly men, opportunities for mentorship and pastoral care are limited when male pastors will not meet with women alone.
  • Even more than excluding, women are saying that this rule is shaming.
  •  It teaches women that their bodies are sources of temptation and a potential stumbling block for men. I do not think men – especially white men – understand the damage done when someone’s body is treated as threatening.
  • …Leaving behind the Billy Graham Rule is often interpreted as having no boundaries. This rule is so ingrained in our psyche, we cannot imagine another possibility for discerning boundaries apart from the boundary to never be alone with the other gender. Boundaries exist in every healthy relationship. Rather than a pre-set universal rule mostly enforced by men for women, boundaries can be mutually discerned case-by-case based on a myriad of relational factors such as history, trust, context, and yes, gender.
  • I wonder: have we lost so much trust in our own virtue that we cannot consider this kind of encounter as safe?
  • Keeping men and women from being alone together will only treat the symptom but not address the heart. Would it not be a better strategy if men developed the kind of virtue that transformed how they see and relate to women? I know many will continue to say that I am being naive, but doesn’t Jesus prohibit even the lustful look?
  • The Billy Graham Rule is the Church white-knuckling the brokenness between the genders. It would not have saved Tullian from an “inappropriate relationship’.  What Tullian needed – what we all need – is a deeper healing, a new way of seeing women and men – a new way that is made possible in Christ.
  • …. In Christ, each man takes responsibility for his own sexuality. Women are not responsible for a man’s lust! In Christ, there is mutual honor and respect for each person’s commitments and vocations.


Related Posts:

(Link):  Christians Overly Fond of the BGR / How I Learned to Stop Worrying About the Billy Graham Rule and Love Like Jesus by T. Grigg

(Link):  Affairs Don’t Start with Texts – via guest authors at Tim’s blog

(Link):  Non-Romantic Nearness, The Billy Graham Rule, and Pope John Paul’s Friendship With a Married Woman

(Link):  The Islamic Billy Graham Rule – Unmarried Muslim People Are Punished For Being Alone Together

(Link):  Jesus Christ was not afraid to meet alone with known Prostitutes / Steven Furtick and Elevation Church Perpetuating Anti Singles Bias – ie, Single Women are Supposedly Sexual Temptresses, All Males Can’t Control Their Sex Drives – (but this view conflicts with evangelical propaganda that married sex is great and frequent)

(Link): Reclaiming Stolen Friendships – a blog post criticizing the Sexist, Anti – Singles Christian Billy Graham Rule

(Link):  Patriarchy tends to sexualize all male / female relationships (article via Junia Project blog)

(Link):  Topics: Friendship is Possible / Sexualization By Culture Of All Relationships

(Link):  Relationships Of Welcome, Not Fear (Re: How Sexist Christian Views Marginalize and Isolate Adult, Single Women and Maintain Other Stereotypes About Adult Singles)

(Link):   How the Sexual Revolution Ruined Friendship – Also: If Christians Truly Believed in Celibacy and Virginity, they would stop adhering to certain sexual and gender stereotypes that work against both

(Link):  Hey Ed Stetzer: Opposite Gender Friendships Are Not Sinful – Ed Stetzer’s Advice: “Avoid Any Hint” – More Like: Re Enforce UnBiblical Stereotypes About Men, Women, Sex, and Singles

(Link): The Sexualization of God and Jesus

(Link):  Why So Much Fornication – Because Christians Have No Expectation of Sexual Purity 

(Link):  Pervy Preacher from Seattle who teaches men “to objectify women, by his over emphasis of sexualization of women and subservience” (Re Driscoll) 

(Link):  Brotherly Love: Christians and Male-Female Friendships

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