The Stupid Billy Graham Rule Strikes Again, Via Relevant Magazine: ‘Is It OK for Married People to Text the Opposite Sex?,’ by Z. Carter

The Stupid Billy Graham Rule Strikes Again, Via Relevant Magazine: Is It OK for Married People to Text the Opposite Sex?, by Z. Carter

Not only did Relevant magazine (Christian publication) recently publish this dreck (link is much farther down this blog post), but a guy or two under Relevant’s Tweet about it were defending it, LOL.

This is basically a variation on the BGR (Billy Graham Rule), which generally casts singles as harlots, women in particular. Ergo, married men are strongly cautioned against talking to, showing compassion to, being around, taking phone calls from, adult single women.

(I have a collection of posts on my blog that refutes the BGR; please see links to those posts at the bottm of this one, under “Related Posts.”)

Jesus never taught the BGR, but actually befriended and talked to all sorts of women, including known prostitutes, divorced women, and so on.

Do evangelicals and the Reformed emulate Jesus on this, Jesus being the role model for all believers? Nope – they choose to emulate the rule-loving Pharisees who also taught men that all women are sexual temptresses, so men ought to avert their gaze if they see a woman walking by.

This paranoia of opposite-gender friendships ends up ostracizing and excluding single adults (some of whom may be lonely and in great need of platonic companionship, let alone romantic), it basically casts even virgins such as myself (over the age of 40) as being hookers and sluts, and it sexualizes every one.

For about four years now, I’ve been Facebook friends with a married guy on Facebook. He knows I’m single. I know he’s married. He knows I know he’s married.

I’ve also been friends with another married guy online for about ten or more years (we met on a forum) and we later became Facebook friends. This guy knows I know he’s married, and he knows I’m single.

And do you know what? This has not been a problem for any of us!

I sometimes even send private notes to the first friend on Facebook about some of my personal problems (stuff I don’t want to put on my Facebook wall).  At no time have I flirted with either male friend, nor have they flirted with me. It’s not even entered my mind!

Yes, it’s possible for single women to be pals with married dudes and nothing inappropriate happens.

I was engaged several years to a guy. My ex at one point rented his own home, then he went on to two different apartments.

I sometimes spent the night with him at these places (over night stays) even in the SAME BED, and we did NOT have sex. (I was very committed to the idea of remaining a virgin until marriage at that point in life. So, my ex and I did not have sex). It’s possible for two adults to spend time alone over night and not have sex.

I have a libido. My ex let me know he had one too – he respected my wishes and boundaries, but he let me know on more than one occasion he was “warm for my form” and was very tempted to get it on. However, we both had self control. Just because you’re alone with someone else and find them attractive does not mean that sex is inevitable.

At least several of the people who left comments below this page (on the Relevant site) were critical of the piece:

(Link):  Is It OK for Married People to Text the Opposite Sex? by Zack Carter


Affairs don’t start with sex.

….However, I probably don’t have to tell you that too much can be dangerous—especially privacy with someone of the opposite sex.

Ask yourself: If you were at home and your spouse was not, would you invite over someone of the opposite sex, to have a conversation in the privacy of your bedroom? Especially in the privacy of your bedroom with the door locked and window shades drawn? Most likely—and hopefully—your answer is a firm, “No!”

But if I were to ask if you regularly texted with the opposite sex, the answer may not be the same.

I don’t think texting someone is analogous with inviting them into your bedroom, closing the door, and sitting real close to them on the bed.

Texting and the Doorway to Infidelity

[The author mentions how common texting is these days for many people]

….Too often in text messaging, particularly with the opposite sex, insignificant words are sent that are consciously and unconsciously linked to more significant emotional or sexual roots in the heart; roots that are intended to remain deeply rooted in a marriage instead outside of it.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard stories of married men and women texting outside their marriage with the opposite sex and it began innocently, discussing topics about their kids’ school or their spouse’s new job, and then all of a sudden finding themselves in a heated conversation about how their spouse doesn’t want to talk about their feelings or that they noticed the other at the gym, commenting on how they like their tight-fitting gym clothes.

Opening these conversation doors allows infidelity the opportunity to advertise itself.

Affairs Don’t Begin With Sex.

Men and women were designed physically and emotionally to have sex and talk about deep feelings. However, talking about sex and feelings with the opposite sex through texts can quickly detach a married person from his or her spouse emotionally and sexually in the real world.

Let’s be honest: Many married men and married women text the opposite sex without ever falling into this trap. There are many who respect their spouses completely, stewarding well their texts, never venturing into discussing feelings or sex with the opposite sex in a text.

… How to Handle It

I’ve put together some suggested guidelines you and your spouse can consider when it comes to texts and the opposite sex:

  • If you receive a text message from someone of the opposite sex, choose to respond by calling them immediately instead of responding through text. Making a phone call communicates to them that you would prefer speaking over the phone instead of via text.

(end excerpts)

I have no idea why this author thinks that text messaging is more dangerous than phone calls. A married man, if he’s tempted to cheat on his wife, can do so via a phone chat just as easily as via texting.

The author sort of refutes his own argument when he concedes that plenty of married people text opposite gender friends and nothing ever comes of it:

Let’s be honest: Many married men and married women text the opposite sex without ever falling into this trap. There are many who respect their spouses completely, stewarding well their texts, never venturing into discussing feelings or sex with the opposite sex in a text.

(end excerpts)

By the way, what is wrong with a married guy discussing his emotions (“discussing feelings”) with another woman? As far as I can tell, absolutely nothing. It would depend on the persons involved, the married guy’s intent, how much and how deep he’s sharing, etc, but in most friendships, discussions involving emotional stuff WILL creep in.

I don’t think it’s a stellar argument to say that because SOME married persons might get into an affair via texting an opposite gender friend that therefore ALL married persons should refrain from texting opposite gender friends.

The Bible nowhere says that only heart to heart talks should take place between married couples, or that it’s wrong for a married man to confide in a single woman (or vice versa).

I submit to you that if a married man cheats on his wife, there is much more going on than the medium chosen (texting, e-mailing, phoning, in person visits), and it’s not solely a problem of men being around women, but that the marriage already has problems to start with (perhaps the man feels unloved or undesirable to his wife, or they fight all the time), or the man is a sleaze with poor values to start with and sees nothing wrong with getting as much sex as he can from whomever and whenever.

The problem is less about texting or married men talking to single women than it is an attitude or values problem from the start.

Well, what do you know, I’ve skimmed down farther, and the author basically says what I just did:

But I think the slope is too slippery to ignore; these individuals walk it like a tightrope, sometimes without even knowing it. Text messaging itself is not the culprit. The culprit is the heart of the person text messaging.

(end excerpt)

Just because some men may feel tempted to cheat on a partner via texting, or with a single woman, does not mean that this author should willy nilly make up some sort of rule stating that “married men should never text a woman friend, ever.”

The author also says,

Here’s the important thing to realize: Safeguarding your marriage against infidelity should extend beyond the bedroom. Infidelity occurs well before having actual sex with someone, and in today’s culture, the smoke is usually fanned into fire during text messaging. We’ve all heard the saying, “The grass is greener on the other side.” (end excerpt)

Last I heard, several years ago, studies said it was married men looking up old high school flames  (who are married women) on Facebook that was igniting a lot of affairs – not texting single women. Here are off site links about it:

(Link):   Emotional affairs: How Facebook leads to infidelity – March 2011

Don’t romanticize the past at the expense of the present.

I’m hearing this real-life story more often: A tale of high school sweethearts trying to go “back to the future,” only to realize they should have been content to leave those memories in that old shoebox in storage.  (end excerpt)

(Link): ‘Back-up husbands,’ ’emotional affairs’ and the rise of digital infidelity – Oct 2014

A new study by researchers at the University of Indiana found that Facebook users in relationships frequently use the site to keep in touch with “back-burners” — exes or platonic friends they know they could connect with romantically, should their current relationships go south. Men have back-burners at roughly twice the rate of women, the study found. But among both genders, the practice is widespread

…At some level, this idea of “digital cheating” or “remote infidelity” is just a very old concept in new, trendy clothes.

People in relationships have always had back-burners, the Indiana researchers point out — and emotional infidelity, a sort of destructive, unconsummated affair, went down in bars and over cubicle walls long before we had Gchat records of it. To some extent, the Internet has only made these things more visible, better-documented

(end excerpt)

(Link):  3 Reasons Spouses Commit Facebook Affairs |Dallas Relationship Counselor

Is FACEBOOK to blame for the rise in extramarital affairs?

Facebook may not be the blame, neither is the internet. The blame simply lies in the individual that chooses to utilize our new-found vehicles of social networking.

…When put in the wrong hands, the Internet supports marriage-destroying habits such as pornography addiction, sexual addiction, and infidelity. So, the question is not whether Facebook is to blame, but what can we do to address already existing issues and conflict within the marriage?

3 Reasons Spouses commit FACEBOOK Affairs

First of all, let’s be clear, Facebook is not the cause of marriage failure or extramarital affairs! Facebook is not the reason spouses cheat! However, Facebook and other social networking communities have created a means for accessibility and privacy.

Easy Access

Lack of Boundaries

Refusal to take Responsibility

Remember, Facebook is not responsible for extramarital affairs, people are.

(end excerpt)

Here are a few comments left by people under the article at Relevant by Carter:

Comment by Josh Poland:

Go read the FB comments on this piece. This is terrible advice. All the critiques I’m about to list have been posted by others:

1. This treats others as temptations instead of brothers and sisters
2. If you have to stop texting in order to stay faithful, you might have bigger problems in your marriage than who you are texting
3. Infidelity does begin much sooner than sex, but having conversations with members of the opposite sex that your spouse isn’t privy to isn’t the gateway to infidelity, its called being social.
4. This is over-simplified, legalistic thinking that doesn’t do anything other than pander to immature fears
5. People in constant communication might have a legitimate reason to be talking other than infidelity
6. Managing behavior won’t change the desires of the heart

 by Justin McLachlan:

I’m sorry, but the “slippery slope” argument is trash. Why don’t you just lock yourself in a bubble if you can’t trust yourself to even COMMUNICATE with someone whom you may or may not have a sexual attraction to?

Is this really the kind of life you’d want to lead? One where you view yourself as so incapable of maintaining your own promises to another human being (fidelity in marriage) that you have to abscond from even the most rudimentary forms of human interaction with other people?

Do you understand how you sound? Is that the kind of person you want to be? One so untrustworthy, so out of control, so immature, that you can’t be trusted at all? That’s what you’re saying.

Christians need to stop relying on each other for sex advice if this the standard for it. Because this is stupid, to say the least.

Aaron James Thomas commented…

I never comment on articles, but this advice is just bad. This is sugarcoated legalism and has absolutely no Christ-like basis to it.

Merry Rebecca commented…

Everything about this thought process and attitude explains why I feel so awkward around Christian couples, when I can’t even so much blink at the husband without having both of them read way too much into it.

I have also dated Christian guys who exhibited this sort of controlling behavior.

I once had a boyfriend who flipped out because a man at church who was twice my age began a conversation with me. Man was simply being nice, but boyfriend wouldn’t leave my side at church after that and would even wait for me outside the restroom – not because he was concerned for my safety, but because he was jealous.

I still get stressed out thinking about it. Just the thought of being in a marriage carried out in this way makes me cringe. When people cease to be people and become Members of The Opposite Sex or Someone Who Could Potentially Cheat On Me Or My Spouse, or think that your spouse needs all communication monitored like a child, you really gotta ask yourself if you’re ready to be in a relationship.

Adam Hendricks commented…

This is moral trolling. The author can’t possibly be serious, unless he is a religious fanatic. Cheating is not caused by men and women interacting. It’s caused by both parties involved having a desire to cheat. Stop trying to throw an electronic burka over women who may want to text their male coworkers on completely professional issues or male friends on completely harmless things.

Josh Colletta commented…

What kind of absolute NONSENSE is this? Interacting with the opposite sex is not cheating, nor does it inherently LEAD TO cheating.

My best friend is a woman I’ve known since our sophomore year in high school (we’re in our early 30’s now). We talk all the time.

She’s not cheating on her husband with me in any way. In fact, the three of us have even talked about exactly this, and we’re all in total agreement: I am no threat to their marriage whatsoever. I would expect my future wife to be able to come to the same understanding as my best friend’s husband has. This whole argument is asinine.

(click here to read the article and the rest of the comments at the bottom of that article)

Related Posts, on another blog:

(Link): Singles are Marginalized in the Church Because the Church has Placed Too Much Emphasis on Sex

Related Posts, this blog:

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

(Link): 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 who cannot be trusted)

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

(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):   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):  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

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

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

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

One thought on “The Stupid Billy Graham Rule Strikes Again, Via Relevant Magazine: ‘Is It OK for Married People to Text the Opposite Sex?,’ by Z. Carter”

  1. So does Zack Carter fix his own vehicles and do all the maintenance on them? The reason why I ask that question is that the receptionist ( a young woman) at the auto repair shop I take my car to texts me to let me know what the problem with my car is, when the repairs are done etc. Given that most people have cell phones these days, I am sure she does that with other customers. Many receptionists and customer service people are women. How on earth does Zack Carter function in society when he seems to look at women as temptresses trying to lead him into sin? Oh, wait, it’s because God meant women to be married and staying at home. Women working outside the home are living in sin.

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