There has been something of a furore over the revelation that Mike Pence follows the "Billy Graham" rule - that he will not eat or be alone with a woman to whom he is not related. And the article I have linked to from Natalie Collins, although well-written, can obviously be ignored becase it is written by a woman. And although it might be useful for the edification of women, this is irrelevant to us men.
Therefore I would like to share my own thoughts on this troubled area, with the hope it will be of use in the instruction of men - as after all, we need to take what might best be described as "evasive action".
First of all, let me make it clear that there is no blame to attach to women here, beyond that which originally attached to Eve. She it was, after all, that tempted Adam. And so although we have to recognise the danger they cause, they are merely acting according to their own weak nature. Which, although redeemed and renewed by God, still is not yet perfect. So although they are not to blame, it is all none the less their fault.
People may say that I should not speak of what I do not know, Brothers in Christ (it might be best for the Sisters in Christ to go off and do some knitting or light Bible study at this point). But, as the first commenter on Natalie Collins' article makes clear, I know far more than women what goes on in my mind, body and spirit when trying to resist the incidental seductions of the weaker sense.
Indeed, I remember the last time I had dinner with a woman who was not my wife. Back when I was still a travelling insurance salesman, I had to have dinner with my manager.
Well, needless to say it was a nightmare, Dear Brothers. For did she not insist on eating with her mouth? What more insidious temptation could I face? On three occasions I was so intent on her body - which she was using to sit at the table and eat - that I stabbed myself in the face with a fork.
All through our meal together, she insisted on talking to me. And it was notable that she steered the conversation onto just those subjects: insurance, salesmanship, personal development - most likely to inflame my desires. I had of course refused to countenance any wine with the meal - sticking strictly to water with no more than one cube of ice, for we are not to revel in luxury like the Babylonians. And it was just as well, for such was her encouragement of carnal desires through her discussion of these matters that I could in fact not speak, but just sat there with my mouth agape.
With the tempting words, "I'd better get off now - we've a hard day tomorrow. People in Newark don't buy life insurance easily, because life's already so cheap" - she was gone to her hotel room. And I have always reflected that it was only my iron self-control - and the fact that my knees were no longer working due to my state of semi-paralysis - that I did not take her up on that blatant offer.
Needless to say, after that dinner meeting I had to resign, Dear Brothers. But as you have seen, I am a man of the world. I therefore take Natalie Collins' point that the normal ways of obtaining leadership posts - 1 to 1 training, occasional meals with the boss - are not available to women. So now I offer you this guide to how you can instruct your womenfolk in the ways of obtaining leadership in the Church. If your wife or daughter feels called to - appropriate and limited - authority, as it may be a children's teacher or an instructor of other women - let them follow these simple suggestions.
1. If a rising church leader is single, maybe they could marry them? (NB I am referring to unmarried daughers here and not people's wives.)
2. If that option is not available, why not make friends with the pastor's wife? They will already be in a position of leadership over other women, and very likely prepared to delegate to the appropriate godly women.
3. The great thing about making friends with the pastor's wife is that your wife or daughter can safely go to dinner, or have coffee, with them without inflaming terrible and potentially scandalous desires. Except in that dreadful case in the Wolverhampton Funambulist Baptists, which we try not to think
4. Ensure your wife or daughter avoids being too attractive, lest they attract unwanted attention from a lonely pastor. Clearly they should avoid make up (the women, that is. The pastors go without saying). But maybe a light application of dirt to their faces will deter the really eager ministers.
5. Whatever else they do, ensure your wives and daughters stay away from Evangelical Church Leaders. Apparently Billy Graham does not think they can be trusted.