The media reported that Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch may make it through the confirmation process in the Senate. At the same time, headlines told us the repeal of Obamacare was disastrously dead. On international fronts, Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly interfered in last year’s president election in the United States and the insane leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, is ready to take on the whole world with his nuclear weapons.
But what was the biggest news of the week? Mike Pence, vice president of the United States, is committed to his wife!
Everyone learned that the VP and his wife, Karen, have disciplined boundaries for their marriage. One news report called the guidelines “unusually strict.”
Ashley Parker, a reporter for The Washington Post, wrote a story about the Pences’ 32-year marriage and their mutual commitment to the Christian faith. She explained that the VP never eats alone with a woman who is not his wife. This standard is often called the “Billy Graham rule” because this has been the announced practice of Billy Graham through his marriage.
Clara Jeffery tweets
By now, everyone knows about the social media eruption that followed a tweet by Parker.
Newspapers, television networks, cable news, blogs and websites carried the tirade along with countless articles. Everyone wanted to take sides over this strange information.
Believe it or not, a simple biblical standard caused some to endure a complete meltdown – they literally freaked out. They seemed utterly shocked that such Stone Age ideals actually exist in our modern, progressive world.
Some thought the VP was courting Sharia law – the Islamic legal system that is imposed on national and local governments by the Muslim faith. Pence was taunted and ridiculed with labels such as “sexist” and “chauvinist.” There were accusations that his practice is discriminatory and illegal.
Baptist Press reported that Clara Jeffery, editor-in-chief of the liberal publication Mother Jones, tweeted a series of responses claiming, among other things, that the vice president relegates women as “second class citizens.”
The fact that the vice president’s self-imposed standards caused such a fuss in social media and mainline news only demonstrates the stark contrast between the far left progressive mind set and the traditional Christian world view. Progressives just don’t understand.
They live in a strange bubble. Of course, we live in a completely different bubble, and I understand that they might say my bubble is very strange. That’s the point! It is very ordinary for each of us to believe our world, our bubble, is the norm for everyone else. But, it is not the case.
When you think about it, it’s actually very self-centered to believe that my personal world and the worldview I embrace is the norm for everyone else.
I will take that thought a step further. It is also incredibly naive. It is non-missional.
Christians should not be shocked when we witness one more example of the temporal world system that wars against the Christian faith. It would be humorous if it were not so tragic.
The world that lives apart from Christ does not see the truth of God. Like the parables of Jesus, they hear, but they do not understand. They are deaf and blind. Spiritual blindness is part of the state of lostness. Spiritual deafness is what it means to be lost.
This is at the core of the Apostle Paul’s message in Ephesians 2. We were once “dead in trespasses and sins,” and “walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.”
Before we submitted to God’s truth, we “conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”
Paul continued writing his letter with full awareness that the only difference between himself and the lost, confused world around him is God’s love, grace and mercy. “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ ... For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
There we have it. We are very different. Our standards are different. We think in ways that are very different from the systems of this world.
Our God is timeless and unique. Those trapped in the short-sighted ways of this age are baffled by the eternal nature of God and His children.
They are surprised that there are many additional Billy Graham rules and Mike Pence rules that we have imposed on ourselves because we are keenly aware of our sin nature, hence our need for boundaries.
Personally, I wholeheartedly agree with Mike Pence. I have the same standard in my relationship with my wife.
National Public Radio (NPR) wrote a column that points to four important Billy Graham rules, or standards, that he set for himself early in his ministry. They point first to Graham’s financial accountability and second, to his safeguards from sexual immorality.
Third, Graham refrained from criticizing pastors and local churches. Fourth on the NPR list is the standard of accurate publicity, that is, not exaggerating attendance numbers and successes.
I would add another prominent Graham standard. Wisely, he did not defend himself. It is easy to create wars with our words. He admitted when he was wrong, but he did not engage in defensive battles when he believed he faithfully represented biblical truth.
The Christian faith is not a legalistic list of rules. But every believer needs personal standards – about finances, sexual purity, vocabulary, alcohol and all other areas of life – because our witness is important.
Thank you, Vice President Pence, for reminding us of this high value.