Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell were correct in their relationship with women while my seventeenth-century hero John Bunyan was wrong, very wrong.
Graham and Falwell made it a practice to never be alone with a woman who was not a relative. In that respect, they were right on target. No doubt, they practiced that for the same reason I have always done so: because none of us are 100% reliable until we are dead and because of the appearance of wrongdoing. We are not to give any person a reason to suspect or accuse us of evil. Failing to reach perfection is no excuse for not being blameless. Of course, being blameless is not the same as being perfect.
John Bunyan was one of the most courageous and principled men in history. In the 17th century, he told the king of England that he did not have the authority to stop him from preaching the Gospel! For that conviction, he spent over 12 years in prison. The Bunyan family lived from the support of fellow church members while John was in prison. John earned additional funds from the sale of shoe laces he made in prison.
Bunyan’s eldest daughter Mary was blind and she came to visit him in prison and pled with him “Come home daddy. Momma’s sick and we need you.” Mary would reach for her father’s eyes and wipe away his tears and whenever Mary left his cell and walked down the corridor feeling her way along the damp walls, John said that it was as if someone was pulling the flesh from his bones. Mary died while John was in prison. He could have gone home at any time if he promised to stop preaching but John told the judge that he would preach until the moss grew on his eyelids. That is character, courage, and convictions.
But John was wrong in dealing with women.
After John’s release from prison, he became pastor of the dissident church in Bedford with such unusual success that the church started other meetings in surrounding villages. One was in Gamlinghay and on Feb. 13, 1674, the church had a preaching meeting scheduled where Bunyan was to preach. A young lady named Agnes Beaumont had recently joined the Bedford church and wanted to attend the meeting in Gamlinghay.
Her father disliked Bunyan although Agnes’ brother belonged to his church. The only way Agnes could attend the meeting was to get a ride on someone’s horse, quiet common in that day; however, it was not acceptable for young ladies to ride with married men. John rode by her home in Epworth and her brother asked him if Agnes could ride with him to the meeting. John quickly refused twice then acquiesced and rode off with the 20-year-old lady behind him!
Even a modern television evangelist would not be so stupid. Well, not sure about that.
It was daylight and Agnes’ brother and wife road along with them but it was scandalous. The coup de grâce was two nights later when Agnes’ father died and she was accused of poisoning him by the family lawyer whose advances she had rejected earlier. It was charged that Agnes and John were sexually involved and John had provided the poison to kill her father. At the coroner’s inquest, the case was dismissed since it was obviously contrived by the attorney and a priest who had seen John and Agnes at the edge of town with her arms around John’s waist!
Agnes wrote that John spoke to her of biblical things during their ride to the next village but that did not make it right. John was wrong, careless for his reputation and for a single lady. It was a lapse in judgment by a good, great, even godly man.
God warns us about “the appearance of evil.” This is especially true of pastors. No pastor should ever be alone with an unrelated woman unless his office can be observed from the hall. He should never visit in the home of a lady without others present. The Bible tells Christian workers to go “two by two” when they visit.
There is a movement in America that has been gaining popularity in recent years whose only objective is to promote opposite sex friendship. I have a friend in a major Midwest city who has written a book promoting this dangerous and unbiblical teaching. I don’t question his or others’ motives but I sure question their wisdom and judgment. He could probably be identified as a “recovering Fundamentalist” but I suggest he and some others in the movement are loosey-goosey Evangelicals or simply professing Christians from mainline churches.
People in the Opposite Sex Relationship (OSR) movement often have meals with the opposite sex and even take road trips with them, utilizing separate motel rooms. The one verse dealing with the appearance of evil would prohibit that practice. Honesty, sincerity, purity, friendship, and all other virtues are not relevant. It is an open door for sexual immorality, breaking up families, and especially an open door for evil accusations.
I have many female friends that are important to my life; however, there is a difference in important and essential. I delight in talking with them but I would never consider having lunch alone with them or going on a road trip with them! First of all, why should I? Why would I want to exclude my wife? A wife or husband should provide all the emotional support that is needed and any other support is good but incidental.
No, Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell were right in their relationships with women and John Bunyan was wrong. Jesus said in Matthew 10:16, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” Countless sincere pastors are not wise and are making the same mistake that Bunyan made providing an open door for destruction of their ministry.
If I had done what Bunyan did, my wife would have guaranteed my early arrival at the Celestial City after a dinner of freshly picked mushrooms–picked by her!
Boys’ new book Muslim Invasion: The Fuse is Burning! was published recently by Barbwire Books; to get your copy, click here. An eBook edition is also available.
Fact, Fraud or Faith?
by Don Boys, Ph.D.
Only an uninformed fanatic says that evolution or creation can be proved scientifically. Christians believe in creationism because we believe in the veracity of the Bible but we also have scientific evidence to support our position. In every debate I’ve had with evolutionary scientists, the arrogant, asinine accusation is made, “Well, evolution is scientific while creationism is religion.” Evolution is about as scientific as a voodoo rooster plucking ceremony in Haiti. Almost.