The venerable “Billy Graham rule” has served many ministers well over the years. The rule is a simple concept: not being alone with another woman not one’s wife. I suppose there are variations and exceptions but those who follow it do not arrange private luncheons with another woman and some go to the extent of not ever being alone with another woman. The latter is impractical, perhaps impossible to follow for some single staff churches with a secretary. The pastor may well be in the building alone if he maintains any office hours at all.
I’m curious if the rule which is in its seventh decade now, is still applicable, useful and practical. The changes since the 1940s are considerable: females in the workplace, including church staffs; the manner business is conducted; the ubiquitous use of social media for relationships and contacts.
While I haven’t seen hard data on it, my speculation is that more clergy are caught by pornography, sexting and other inappropriate social media contact. I can name several forced resignations and terminations locally from such sins. No furtive assignations where adultery is involved, just emotional and mental adultery. If a pastor’s resignation or firing is described as being because of “an inappropriate but not physical relationship with a woman not his wife” is this the code phrase for exchanging texts or email with photographs and/or lascivious talk?
So, wouldn’t the new Billy Graham rule, the one that would work for the 21st century connected minister this: “My phone, computer, and other devices are available to any deacon (elder) or staff member for examination at any time”?
Perhaps overlaying the “new” rule on the old one would be a shield against emotional and physical adultery?