Yesterday during lunch, one of our pastors read Dr. Carl Trueman’s recent post to our pastor’s college students and I was astounded! Here was a pastor of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and a professor of Westminster Theological Seminary trashing the Rev. Billy Graham/Vice President Mike Pence rule of never spending time alone with a woman other than his wife. Was he serious? Had he gone mad?
First, notice Dr. Trueman’s title:
Homosexual temptation is the pink elephant Dr. Trueman says no one is noticing or talking about. As if there is even a shred of hiddenness about gayness left anywhere today. But apparently Dr. Trueman thinks the church still hasn’t noticed. He thinks Christian leaders aren’t aware they can be metooed by gays and lesbians and are stupidly limiting our protective efforts to only heterosexual temptations.
What world is this guy living in? Twice this past week I directly addressed this danger in my work. Another one of our congregation’s pastors and one of our elders were present in my office when we spent time with a gay man seeking the fruit of repentance. Then a day or two later, I was working on a book proposal and wrote of the need for pastors providing pastoral care for men tempted by homosexuality to avoid meeting alone with them.
This is big-yawn-boring-obvious stuff for pastors today, so why does Dr. Trueman think it’s the elephant in the room he’s the only one thinking or talking about?
After the title, we move to the text of Dr. Trueman’s piece and find that, in typical young man style, he can’t bring himself to attack Vice President Pence and his rule directly and honestly.
Instead, Dr. Trueman’s attack is a false-flag operation. He starts out creating the appearance of defending Vice President Pence and his rule from the attacks the wicked—particularly feminists—have been unleashing on him. But his defense lacks any conviction. It’s tepid at best.
Dr. Trueman says these attacks have been “simply silly,” which is to say the Pence/Graham rule doesn’t matter and those attacking it don’t have evil motives and nothing bad will happen if the rule dies.
In fact, these attacks on Vice President Pence and his wife are wicked. They are nothing less than an attempt to shame any Christian protecting the Name of his Savior, the Church, his marriage, his children, his family—in short everything most precious to him—from the utter destruction of sexual sin.
Dr. Trueman writes, “what the Rule seeks to achieve…”.
Rules aren’t moral agents so they seek nothing. Vice President Pence is the one seeking something by adopting this rule, and that is to protect everything that’s most precious to him.
But Dr. Trueman thinks the attack on the rule is “simply silly” and the rule itself is stupid.
In his final paragraph, Dr. Carl Trueman uncloaks his knife. He claims that “those who regard the Pence Rule” as mandatory rather than a guideline that “may or may not be useful” are “in a bit of a bind” because they can never “be alone or have a meeting or offer a lift in a car to anyone.” And “therefore,” how can they ever “be friends with anyone else?”
Dr. Trueman starts his piece by making it appear as if he’s sympathetic to the Pence rule, but it’s all for the purpose of softening readers up for his reductio ad absurdum which goes something like this:
If you can’t spend time alone with a woman other than your wife, then you can’t spend time with a man other than your wife, either. You might run off with him as easily as you would a woman. See how stupid the Pence Rule is!
You can’t travel alone with another woman than your wife. You can’t be alone with another woman. And since three or four percent of the population claims to be gay, you can’t be alone with any man, either.
So you see? Other than your wife, you can never be friends with anyone.
Upon entering the ministry following seminary, my Dad sent me a note in the mail that said don’t ever be alone with any woman other than your wife. Don’t give a high school student a ride home. Don’t counsel a woman alone. When you counsel a woman, do it with your wife or have your secretary observing or present.
This has been my practice now across thirty-five years of ministry and it’s a rule our elders and pastors follow in their pastoral care and in their lives. Any and every Christian man (or woman) who knows his own heart and the susceptibility of those he counsels and admonishes and comforts from his position of authority follows this rule.
For any Christian man, let alone a seminary professor, husband, or officer of Christ’s Church, to oppose this rule is scandalous.