Recently, Vice President Mike Pence revealed that he will not dine alone with a woman other than his wife. As you can imagine, social media and television commentators have been lighting him up over this. Some of the comments have been clever, such as Steven Colbert saying that Mike Pence asked his waitress to remove the Mrs. Butterworth bottle from his table (I laughed out loud at this one). Some have just been mocking and cruel. But as a Christian leader, I believe the Vice President is right in his stance and all Christian men ought to do the same.
Honestly, before getting serious about my faith I would have said I think Pence is taking it a little too far. However, as I’ve become a disciple of Jesus instead of just a follower, I completely get why Pence does what he does. It has to do with the fact that we all are fallen and we suck at avoiding temptation.
Many Christians – both men and women – ask how close to sin they can get without crossing the line. That is the wrong question. What we ought to be asking ourselves is how far from sin can we stay so there is never any question of us crossing that line!
And that is where Pence is regarding only dining with his wife. He is not willing to get close to the line, and in fact goes as far away from it as possible.
Some may be reading this and thinking, “Come on, it’s just dinner with a friend or co-worker. There’s nothing sinful or unseemly about it.” Okay, I get it, but here is why I do everything I can as well not to be alone with a woman other than my wife.
First, I respect my wife. As her husband, I am hers and hers alone. Of course, nothing is going to happen if I have dinner with another woman but why would I want to? It’s much easier to have a meal with another woman if my wife is there or there is a group of people. It’s just more respectful to my wife.
Second, temptation can creep in. The fact of the matter is there is sexual tension between men and women. It just is so it’s always better NOT to feed that than to feed it. While you may not feel that way, you don’t know if the other person feels that way. Better safe than sorry.
Third, there is this weird thing where a man and women can be friends, yet feed off each other emotionally for things they are not getting in their own relationships. These emotional encounters are unhealthy and dangerous and also should not be fed.
Fourth, I also respect the spouse or significant other of the woman with whom I may be dining. He may not be cool with it so don’t engage in it.
Lastly, people are stupid and start rumors and gossip. Don’t give them any fodder for their nonsense by being seen with a woman who is not your wife. Marriage is hard enough as it is!
As a church leader, this is a hard rule to follow sometimes. I am often asked by women in our congregation if I have time to talk about some issue. If at all possible, I drag my wife into those meetings. If not, I have that meeting in a room with either the door open or a window where others can see in. Sometimes I am asked for a ride by a female member with no transportation. I do my best to have my wife with me in those situation, such as bringing someone to the hospital. But it doesn’t always work out.
For me, the rule of thumb is check with the wife first! Make sure it’s okay with her that I do what I’m being asked to do. And if I do it, do it in a way that is public and safe. But if at all possible, have my wife with me or another person.
Is it overkill? Probably, but what’s wrong with that? The Chinese have a great saying, “It’s better to bow too low than not low enough.”
Personally, I appreciate our Vice President walking the walk and not just talking the talk. More Christian men ought to do the same.