As Christians we despise sexual immorality, and seek to flee from it. For these reasons, false teaching sounds appealing and it is hard to put a finger on what is wrong with it. It isn’t that it is completely wrong. It’s that it is almost right, which in many ways is far worse. Almost right is more deadly than completely wrong.
This topic keeps coming up. Again, I want to stress this. I do not at all care, nor have any issue whatsoever with what Mr. Pence does. As a high powered politician, he might have many reasons not to eat with a woman alone.
My greatest concern is with false teaching. As Christians, we all want strong marriages. As Christians we despise sexual immorality, and seek to flee from it. For these reasons, false teaching sounds appealing and it is hard to put a finger on what is wrong with it. It isn’t that it is completely wrong. It’s that it is almost right, which in many ways is far worse. Almost right is more deadly than completely wrong.
For example, here is a post today from Beautiful Christian Life: Why the Pence Rule Shows Wisdom. These five reasons listed are purported to be Biblical. But are they?
Lets look at them:
1. It Helps Men and Women to Avoid Sexual Temptation
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matt. 6:13)
I don’t see the connection. If a man meeting with a woman alone leads to sexual temptation, then there is a serious problem with the heart. It is the heart that must be addressed.
I think that this is often an excuse. A pastor gets caught in adultery. The facts are that he selected his victim, singled her out, met with her, groomed her, and then seduced her. When he is caught, he says, “I made some poor decision.” Which sounds far better than, “I’m a predator and got caught.”
But let’s not be foolish. A pastor committing adultery is a predator, not someone who made poor decisions concerning the Mike Pence rule.
Quit giving predators this excuse.
If your commitment to righteousness is so thin that being alone with the opposite sex puts you in danger, then you need to examine your heart, rather than add a rule.
I am afraid that this reason simple adds pride and will-worship to the gospel, making it of none-effect.
2. It Seeks to Honor the Marital Union
Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. (Heb. 13:4)
I would say that a far better way to honor the marital union would be to love, honor and respect your spouse. It is absolutely true that a man who honors his marriage will never allow another to cause his wife pain. But, again, I fear this is an excuse.
I knew a man whose wife was jealous of him, for just cause – as it turns out. He spent many hours dining alone in romantic restaurants with another woman. His issue wasn’t that he violated the Pence rule. His issue was that he was committing adultery. Let’s call it what it is.
So, yes, absolutely go home and love, honor and respect your spouses. But don’t think that adding a man-made rule is the same thing as honoring your wife or husband.
I would suggest that we let scripture define what it means to honor your spouse, rather than a rule imposed from on high.
3. It Recognizes the Battle Within All Christians Between the Flesh and the Spirit
For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. (Rom. 7:22-23)
Paul’s whole point in this passage is that the battle is fought and won with the gospel (Romans 8:1), not the law. If the law of Moses is of no effect in the battle against the flesh, how on earth can the law of Pence do that which the law of Moses cannot do?
Who will deliver us from this body of death? Only the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for me and rose the third day! Blessed be the name of the Lord!
By all means, if it is wise in your job to protect yourself then do so. But please do not pretend that the law can deliver us from the bondage of the flesh. Not even Moses could do that.
4. It Shows Respect for One’s Family by Keeping Boundaries
Whoever troubles his own household will inherit the wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise of heart. (Prov. 11:29)
I love that verse. It has nothing to do with the subject under consideration. A man troubles his family with pride, arrogance, abuse, adultery, pornography, tyranny, abdication, abandonment, hatred, violence – and on, and on, and on.
A man who does those things certainly doesn’t care about what people think when he goes to a bar with whomever he wants. But the problem is not the Pence rule. The problem is that the troubler of the family is a child of the devil.
He needs converted, not another rule to thumb his nose at. Are there not enough laws in the Bible about honoring your family without adding another one? If he keeps none of the ones there, how can adding another one change anything.
5. It Strives to Bring Glory to God
Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Cor. 6:18-20)
Again, a great verse. I love it. It has nothing to do with the Pence rule. In fact, this one bugs me the most. It equates being alone with a woman with sexual immorality.
Really? If this one is true, then Jesus himself sinned when he was alone with the woman at the well, and the woman taken in adultery.
By all means, flee sexual immorality. But have a little bit more respect for our sisters in Christ. You may have a lot of reasons not to meet alone with a woman, either in church or at work. But if your reason is that you are afraid that you might commit adultery with her, then you are an adulterer, and perhaps a predator. You don’t need the Pence rule. You need to be born again. Let’s quit minimizing sexual immorality by equating it with meeting with a woman. It’s degrading to you and to your sisters in Christ.
We need far more than sound bites and twisted scripture. We need the Spirit of God poured out on our hearts. We need wisdom, which only comes from God (Proverbs 2).
Wisdom does not come from the law. The ability to keep the law of God comes from the wisdom of the heart, which is a gift of God. It only comes through the gospel; never through the law.
The difference between almost right and right is the difference between the gospel and another gospel. I fear, whenever we speak of the Pence rule, we aren’t speaking about the gospel anymore. We are adding the law into grace, and pretending that having begun in the spirit, we are now made perfect by the flesh.
It’s time we stopped.
Sam Powell is Pastor of First Reformed Church (RCUS) in Yuba City. This article is used with permission.