Vice President Mike Pence may have been ridiculed for following the “Billy Graham rule” but a majority of women are on the same page as Pence and believe having dinner or drinks alone with a member of the opposite sex other than their spouse is not acceptable, according to a New York Times poll.
According to the survey, carried out between May 2 and 5 among 5,282 registered voters, 60 percent of women said it would be inappropriate to have a drink alone with a man who is not their spouse. Fifty-three percent said that having dinner under the same scenario would also be wrong.
Men were more divided on the issue, though 48 percent agreed that having drinks would be inappropriate, compared to 41 percent who said it was fine. Forty-three percent of men said they would be fine with having dinner alone with a woman who is not their spouse, compared to 45 percent who said it would be inappropriate.
Pence made headlines in March after The Washington Post spotlighted his decision to not dine alone with a woman who is not his wife.
After criticism from liberal commentators who questioned his “self-control,” Cissie Graham Lynch, the granddaughter of Graham, said that she was “disgusted” by the media’s attempts to “dirty the names of good men.”
“They attack and label President [Donald] Trump as a womanizer, misogynist, and an adulterer,” Lynch said in April. “But now they attack Vice President Pence with some of the very same labels for loving his wife so much he will do whatever takes to protect his most cherished relationship.”
Lynch added that the “Billy Graham Rule” serves as the “hallmarks of integrity.”
“We as Christians have to protect our heart and soul form (sic) many things in this world, and we have to set standards so that Satan cannot inch himself into our lives,” she said at the time.
Evangelical Christian author James Dobson said on the Family Talk radio program back then that the attacks on Pence for his choice were some of the “stupidest” he has ever heard.
“I have seen some crazy things, but this has got to be one of the stupidest that I have heard,” Dobson said. “I have known Mike Pence for 25 years. He is a godly man, a good family man, husband and father. He lives by the highest standards of ethics.”
In other findings, The New York Times poll showed that most women and men do not have a problem with having a work meeting alone with someone of the opposite sex. Sixty-three percent of women and 66 percent of men said it was appropriate to do so.
Men and women who shared their experiences with the NYT noted that sometimes solo meetings can create the wrong impressions, even if that is not the intent.
“When a man and a woman are left alone, outside parties can insinuate about what’s really going on,” said Christopher Mauldin, a construction worker in Rialto, Califonia. “Sometimes false accusations create irreversible damages to reputations.”
But Shannon Healy, 31, a property manager in Houghton, Michigan, said that stopping women from meeting with their male bosses could be bad for their careers.
“If I couldn’t meet with my boss one on one, I don’t get that face time to show what I can do to get that next promotion,” Healy suggested.
Dennis Hollinger, president of the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, also warned of the dangers of perceptions:
“All of us know our ethical and spiritual vulnerabilities, and the idea of establishing protocols to live out those commitments can be a good thing,” he said. “The negative side is this particular practice really can appear to treat women in really dehumanizing ways, almost as if they were a temptress.”