Christians Overly Fond of the BGR / How I Learned to Stop Worrying About the Billy Graham Rule and Love Like Jesus by T. Grigg
Christians Should Stop Defending the Billy Graham Rule – Christians Are Overly Fond and Too Enamored of the Billy Graham Rule – by Christian Pundit
The link to the editorial by T. Grigg is much farther below in this post. I wanted to write some introductory thoughts…
You would not believe how entrenched this insulting BGR (“Billly Graham Rule”) is on Christian sites I visit.
There are a smattering of Christians who agree with me that the BGR is unfair and cruel to single women, but it seems a larger percentage think it’s a very sensible thing, and it’s there to protect men, especially married men, so it’s supposedly a good thing.
One woman participant on another site where this issue was under discussion was going on about the “reputations” of pastors and married men.
I asked her to consider the flip side: why was she so concerned about the reputations of male pastors and married men, but not how the BGR automatically smears the reputations of all single women? Why are the reputations of MEN deemed more important than those of women, or with how unmarried women are treated?
The BGR rule assumes that if an unmarried women meets with a married man, whether alone in his office, or at a restaurant for a meal, that an affair is guaranteed to occur. Or, gossipy tongues may be set a’ wagging.
Sometimes this assumption that an affair is guaranteed to occur is further based on the very unfair, demeaning idea that all, or most, unmarried women are over-sexed, unprincipled harlots who want to have an affair with a married man and will do anything to have sex with a married man.
Consequently, single women are viewed as temptresses by other Christians, rather than as “sisters in Christ,” and both married men and married women treat them with suspicion and do not extend hospitality to them.
Single women get demeaning treatment, such as pastors keeping their doors open during personal meetings, and so on. You, as a single woman, are automatically viewed as a threat, or as a lying harlot, who will either make a pass at the man, or lie and claim he tried to touch your cleavage.
Women don’t usually get subjected to this sort of insulting treatment in the secular world.
I (and I am a woman) used to have private meetings with male co-workers (both single and married) at lunch in restaurants, or chat with them alone in the hallways at work, and they usually did not act afraid of me, or as though talking to me would lead to an affair.
But single women, especially Christian ones, are taught to expect this behavior from Christian married men, and that we should tolerate being treated like whores both in and out of the church.
And at that, merely based on our marital status and gender. As such, these Christians smear women, who are made in the image of God, and they bring reproach and shame to being single, and the Lord Jesus Christ was single.
And I am even more stunned at the number of Christians – and it’s usually married Christian women – who so strongly back this stupid, sexist, anti-singles BGR view. Christian married women must harbor some deep distrust and suspicion of single women – which isn’t biblical. Some of these Christian women argue in favor of the BGR.
I asked one such woman if she thought Christian married men should be imitating Jesus Christ, or Billy Graham?
One of the things I find hypocritical about the BGR: Christians often teach that married people are more mature, godly, and sexually self-controlled than single adults.
If that were so (which it is not, by the way; I have numerous examples on my blog of news stories of married men who beat or rape women – and they sometimes have affairs with MARRIED women), and assuming Christian fables are correct, that single women are oversexed harlots who will always pounce on married men, then shouldn’t married men be able to handle any passes made at them by unmarried women just fine?
If marriage makes a person immune from sexual sin (as Christians often teach), and if marriage makes a person more godly and ethical (as Christians assume) than being single, the married men should be able to be around single woman with no problem.
But Christian assumptions and mythology about gender and marital status often contradict each other. They cannot even keep their own stereotypes and assumptions straight.
by T. Grigg
Billy Graham had a rule that he would not meet, travel, or eat with another woman alone. It came to be known as the Billy Graham rule and has been widely embraced by Evangelicals over the past 60 years to prevent infidelity or even the “appearance of evil.”
Though women did not create this rule, they have borne the burden of it. In churches where women’s voices are too often marginalized, this rule separates women from receiving or giving ministry to anyone other than other women. It short-circuits dialogue, mutual relationship, access and mentoring across genders. The image of God, expressed in male and female genders, has been split.
The Billy Graham rule has not been effective at curbing infidelity. In a survey of 1,050 evangelical pastors in 2005-2006, 30% said they had been in an ongoing affair or a one-time sexual encounter with a parishioner.
The rule (often accompanied with a “danger” story about an affair) has framed relating with the opposite sex with fear. When the other gender is kept at a distance, there is less chance for mutual respect and trust to grow. Our fear and distancing diminish mutual respect and create the kind of environment where inappropriate relating is more likely to occur.
What about avoiding the appearance of evil? We get this phrase from from an unfortunate KJV translation of 1 Thessalonians 5:22: “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” The Greek word translated as “appearance” can also mean a variety or kind of something which allmodern modern translations have opted for: “Abstain from everyform of evil” or “abstain from every kind of evil.” There is no biblical basis for not doing something solely based on how it might appear to others.
The best reason why we might challenge the Billy Graham rule is that Jesus did not follow it. He talked to the Samaritan woman at the well. He was left alone with the woman caught in adultery. He appeared to Mary Magdalene alone in the garden post-resurrection. There are multiple accounts of women anointing Jesus’ feet and head with expensive oils. One woman wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. Jesus loved extending presence and relationship to women.
Boundaries in any relationship are essential. But when the boundaries become the focus, the relationship turns into an abstraction. We dehumanize the other gender to protect the boundary.
(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): 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