Karen Swallow Prior, who was appointed as an ERLC research fellow by its president, Russell Moore, recently castigated Vice President Mike Pence for following the “Billy Graham Rule.”
Writing for the left-wing news site, Vox, founded by Ezra Klein (Klein is a regular guest on the Rachel Maddow Show and Hard Ball with Chris Matthews), Swallow Prior says that the problem with the “don’t eat alone with women rule” is that “good character is better than strict rules.” You can find the post here.
Swallow Prior is an avowed feminist (she started an organization with “feminist” in the title, and refers to herself as such), and denies complementarianism (the type promoted in the Southern Baptist Faith and Message) as a “binary construct of the 1980s” (source link). While Vox has been known to kill opinion pieces that don’t promote the progressivist agenda (like articles opposing abortion), they apparently felt that Swallow Prior’s negative opinion of the so-called “Billy Graham Rule” was worth publishing.
The “Billy Graham Rule” is a colloquial term referring to the policy of many Christians not to be alone with members of the opposite sex who are not their spouse or family members (and frankly, many non-Christians of sensible dispositions). Vice President Pence received much negative publicity from far-leftists, who argued that it was anything from sexist to possibly even illegal (the sentiment that Pence’s policy is actually against the law was similarly published by Vox). Meanwhile, a large swath of evangelical leaders who understand the importance of personal integrity and marital fidelity have been sticking up for Pence. Not so with the ERLC research fellow and feminist, Karen Swallow Prior.
Swallow Prior recalls how she was indignantly taken aback the first time a male colleague declined an offer for a ride in her car, not understanding why he acted “as though I invited him to a game of strip poker” instead of a ride across campus.
Following with the claim that “virtue ethics are better than the Billy Graham rule,” Swallow Prior writes…
While I have tremendous respect for men who place their marriages before their work, such a rule befits the world of Mad Men more than the modern-day work world where women are to be treated as equals. But even more importantly, good character is even more trustworthy than the most well-intentioned rules.
Bizarrely, Swallow Prior likens the Billy Graham Rule to the culturally carnal AMC show, Mad Men, and appeals to gender equality as a reason why the rule is silly. Furthermore, Swallow Prior pits “good character” against the Billy Graham Rule, in a move that’s equally as bizarre.
Self-imposed limits on behavioral expectations are not contrary to character, Mrs. Swallow Prior.
Swallow Prior then appeals to the
Scripture noted philosopher, Aristotle, as the source of her ethical judgment…
Virtue ethics relies on moral character that is developed through good habits rather than rules or consequences for the governing of behavior. Aristotle defined virtue as the mean between two extremes, one of excess and one of deficiency. It is a habit of moral character, which, because it is a habit, becomes a kind of second nature. As Aristotle explained, it does not depend upon rules.
Aristotelian ethics aside, the Apostles teach things about being above reproach (Colossians 1:22), blameless (Philippians 2:15), and fleeing temptation like your pants are on fire (2 Timothy 2:22-24). Likewise, the notion that married people agreeing to the foolishness of being alone with members of the opposite sex (especially over something like dinner) began with Billy Graham is foolishness.
Neither is it sexist, because the Billy Graham Rule works for women as well as it does for men (my wife, who was instructed to enter the front seat of a police car last week – she had an out tail light and the officer was running her identification – agreed to comply only on the grounds that she leave the passenger door open; I politely spoke to the officer on the phone later in the evening, and explained that he need not ask married women to sit alone with him in a vehicle unless he had a legitimate reason beyond the enjoyment of their company). But the two-way nature of the rule is apparently beyond the grasp of women like Mrs. Swallow Prior, who see things through the lens of feminism, in the goggles of political correctness that they hand out at University campuses.
Swallow Prior claims that she hasn’t encountered the Billy Graham rule much in her experience within evangelical circles (it might be relating to reasons specific to her, because it’s not uncommon), and hails her own virtue as being able to work in close proximity to a male assistant inside an office built for only one person. It did not lead to an affair, and so Swallow Prior argues accordingly, the rule is altogether unnecessary if someone just has enough Aristotelian virtue.
Rather than “hard rules,” Swallow Prior advises…
If our shared goal is equality for women in the workplace and protection of marriages and families, we cultivate the virtues in ourselves — and model them for others who are struggling to do so along with us — for the good of all.
The not-so-subtle inference is that the Billy Graham Rule somehow negates, prohibits or hinders inner virtue, and is not a good role model to follow.
Yesterday, we posted how Mrs. Swallow Prior informed us (in a video posted by Matt Chandler’s Village Church) that gun ownership is unethical if you live in a bad neighborhood.
Why on Earth is anyone listening to this woman? How the Gospel Coalition, the ERLC, Village Church, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and others are still embracing this individual is a mystery; she has a bewitching spell on, of all people, Reformed or Calvinistic evangelicals. It’s bizarre to watch.
In the mean time, please…take her off stage, kill the mic, and turn off the lights. We can’t take any more of her dangerous advice.
[Editor’s Note: Rachel Held Evans thought Mrs. Swallow Prior’s article was “balanced” and “prudent”; so there’s that – link, HT Wingnut Wall]