4 Reasons to Practice the “Billy Graham Rule”

 Last week, actions taken by a gubernatorial candidate to avoid being alone with a female reporter sparked a debate over what has been dubbed the “Billy Graham Rule.” The “Billy Graham Rule” is a principle that the famous evangelist developed in 1948 during a crusade in Modesto California whereby he covenanted with God and his fellow evangelists never to be alone with a woman who was not his wife (https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/evangelical-history/where-did-the-billy-graham-rule-come-from/). Vice President, Mike Pence, is well known to practice this principle as well. 


I am also a practitioner of this axiom with only two slight adjustments. I have made two exceptions in my nearly 18 years of marriage and both were through much prayer and in mutual agreement with my wife. Also, my counseling ministry requires me to be able to meet with women one on one. I do so under the watchful eye of a security camera that captures on video (not audio) everything that happens in my office. 


Not only am I a practitioner of the “Billy Graham Rule,” but I am also an apologist. I counsel all the couples for whom I do pre-marital counseling that to be alone with a member of the opposite sex other than your spouse is never a good idea for the reasons I shall enumerate below. First, let me just say, I also make it a practice never to endorse any candidate for political office (my reasons for this rule is material for a different article). This principle for living, though, is at the forefront of the current water cooler conversation, and I want to tell you why practicing it is a good idea. 


1. Guarding the marriage bed honors God.

The Spirit instructs us in Hebrews 13:4, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” To hold the “marriage bed in honor” is to assign to it the highest value. Anything that you can do to keep it undefiled is honorable, wise, and prudent. Why does God tell His people to honor the marriage bed and keep it pure? Because God’s heart is to honor the marriage bed and keep it pure, hence the reasons for the prohibitions around sex and His judgment upon those that offend those prohibitions. God wants married people to enjoy intimacy, and for intimacy to be enjoyed it must be honored and set apart as holy.


2. Married people belong first to God and then to their spouse

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 7:2&4, “But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise, the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” Here we see that God desires for a husband and wife to be joined together in intimacy, thus He grants both authority over each other’s bodies. He does this so that each spouse would submit themselves to their “own” spouse. As a husband, by my refusal to be alone with a woman who is not my wife, I am really guarding any temptation to defile the body that belongs to my wife.


3. Affairs are painful and destructive.

In my 12-year career as a pastor, I have witnessed the heart-wrenching destruction of many marriages because of extramarital affairs. These affairs do more than just destroy a marriage. They destroy people. Affairs destroy children. Affairs destroy workplaces, and they destroy churches. Faithfully practicing the “Billy Graham Rule” is an almost sure way to avoid becoming an instrument of destruction in the hand of Satan.


4. While it may seem that interactions with the opposite sex (not your spouse) are innocent, you must understand that most affairs begin innocently.

Hardly anyone who has an affair does it on purpose. Most affairs begin with a platonic relationship that develops sometimes over the course of several years. Just like in any other platonic turned romantic relationship, friendly talk leads to spending time together (eventually alone time), which leads to confiding in one another, and soon chemistry develops and love, or at least the feeling of love, is born. By making it a practice not to be alone with a friend of the opposite sex, you disrupt that formula that leads to an affair and ensures that you stay just that, friends.