Well. A story broke last Thursday that occupied my mind so much that I could barely concentrate at work. I sent it to all my best advisers to get their response to it.
Here is the story reported in The Stream:
It sounds like Vice President Mike Pence really loves his wife and really values his marriage.
Yesterday The Washington Post ran a sweet profile of second lady Karen Pence noting her meek, steady influence on her husband. Interviews with friends and colleagues revealed that Mrs. Pence is a prayer warrior. She’s also passionate about art therapy and works to help military families.
But Karen Pence’s quiet power was not what set off a million talking heads on Twitter. No, it was the matter-of-fact statement that Mike and Karen Pence abide by a version of the Billy Graham Rule. In a 2002 interview, then-congressman Pence said he doesn’t drink without his wife present, nor does he dine alone with other women.
This common-sense rule stands out in a town like DC, where many, many marriages have fallen apart because of affairs.
Regular readers of my blog know that I almost always take the side of men against young, unmarried women who have been influenced by feminism. But that doesn’t mean that I think that men who find a good woman and then commit to her in marriage should do as they please. Not only do I approve of what Pence is doing for his wife, but I consider his actions essential and required for any husband. At the very least, every Christian husband has to come to some sort of understanding with his wife about how he intends to protect her from infidelity. And he needs to be realistic about the role that alcohol plays, as well as peer-pressure and opportunity. In a place like Washington, D.C. it becomes even more of a necessity to have these discussions. Every husband who claims to be a follower of Jesus has a responsibility to be a provider, a protector and a leader on moral and spiritual issues. Part of that protector role is protecting his wife from infidelity. He needs to have a plan to make sure that neither husband nor wife is exposed to temptation beyond what either can resist.
But look at how people on the secular left responded to this story- they claimed that Pence was “sexist” and that he could never allow any woman to occupy a position of authority with this rule – even though he had a female lieutenant governor while keeping to this rule.
Some on the left went crazy, criticizing the VP’s respectful stance as old-fashioned, demeaning to women, or even sharia-esque.
“Pence’s rule doesn’t honor his wife,” MTV News Senior National Correspondent Jamil Smith tweeted. “It uses antiquated ideas about gender and public scorn to place new responsibility upon her shoulders.”
Slate contributor Heather Schwedel accused the politician of holding “a pretty radically retrograde mindset” that views women “primarily as sexual temptations.” Schwedel also quoted formerly evangelical journalist Elizabeth Spiers, who ridiculously wondered if “Pence could argue that he shouldn’t have to hire women on a religious freedom basis.”
Linking to Schwedel’s piece, TeenVogue writer Lily Herman revealed her complete misunderstanding of the VP’s practice. “Mike Pence basically doesn’t interact with women,” she tweeted.
Others made illogical attempts to prove Pence’s hypocrisy.
[…]“Sincere question. How is this different from extreme repressive interpretations of Islam (“Sharia Law!”) mocked by people like Mike Pence,” queried NYT contributor Xeni Jardin.
St. Louis Post columnist Aisha Sultan agreed, commenting: “He’s waaay more Muslim than Obama ever was.”
Mollie Z. reported on even more secular leftist screeching at The Federalist, and she commented:
Infidelity destroys intimacy, happiness, and marriages themselves. But it happens because of the strong temptation that exists every day for most healthy people. When marriages end, the associated costs are financial, emotional, and physical. Divorce tends to be hard on men, women, and children. It harms economic and health outcomes for children, and decreases women’s standard of living over the course of their lifetimes. Guarding against it is smart.
[…]Physical proximity is important for that last part. Emily Belz wrote in 2010 about Mark Souder’s marital failure that forced him out of Congress. He was an Indiana representative who shocked everyone by stepping down after the revelation he’d had an affair with a part-time staffer who was also married. In her article, she notes that Dan Quayle had told Souder to move his family to Washington when he was first elected. Souder didn’t do that. Also mentioned in this article is one Mike Pence, also a congressman from Indiana at the time. Pence did move his family, and it paid off. In the article his wife discusses how he needs the kids and the kids need him.
If divorce rates weren’t sky-high and if infidelity weren’t a problem faced by millions of couples, mocking Pence for the means by which he keeps his marriage intact might make more sense. Heck, if the human condition weren’t such that we all find it difficult to do the right thing, the mockery also might make sense.
As it is, Pence’s smart tactics for avoiding the kind of marital failure that could destroy him, his wife, their family, and the lives of those around them is to be commended and celebrated.
I think I know what it is that is animating people to mock Pence’s thoughtful plan. It’s not mockery that is just coming from the secular left, either. The fundamental thing that Pence is doing is this: he is making a plan to achieve the result he wants, and then following through on the plan. The plan does not allow him to play fast and loose with boundaries. He has to exercise self-control well before he is faced with an impossible situation. He has to give up on some freedom and exercise self-control in order to draw a line well before he comes to the line that he cannot cross. In short, Pence has made a plan on his own that is not Biblical, but that will help him to achieve the goal that the Bible sets for him: do not commit adultery.
I think that there are people on the secular left AND on the religious right alike who don’t want to give up any freedom, nor make any plan. They just want to pursue pleasure and be driven by their feelings. They don’t want to say no to anything or have any self-control. This is a problem I see in secular leftists and low-grade feelings-based Christians, too. Naturally, secular leftists lack moral wisdom enough to exercise self-control, that’s a given. But what happens to people on the religious right is that they want to punt to the Bible, and piety and feelings to such an extent that they are destroyed by their own foolishness. Because the Bible only specifies goals, lazy Christians often lean too much on God, refusing to think that there is any wisdom elsewhere that could make the achievement of Biblical goals easier. That’s why you see a lot of young Christians getting into trouble. If you have a goal to achieve for your Boss, you have to make a plan to achieve it. You can’t just follow your feelings and then blame everyone else when you fail. You can’t do what you feel like doing, refusing to exercise self-denial and self-control throughout a plan, then complain that you didn’t achieve the goal. No one does well on an exam if they don’t come to class, do the homework, and study for the exam.
What about results?
What about the approach of secular leftist women who attack Pence? What kind of men do they choose, and do these men produce results like Pence and Pence’s rule do?
This splendid article from The Stream explores the decisions of the radical feminists, noting that Democrat women pick men like Anthony Weiner and Bill Clinton.
What feminists really claim to want from men is a milder version of Jenner: Someone who suppresses, beats down, and denies what it means to be a man. Who internalizes the guilt that feminism sprays men with like a firehose. And yet who (like Jenner) is somehow still attracted to women. A tame man, a damaged man, a man who is no threat at all.
At least that’s what feminists think they want. In fact, they’re probably secretly more attracted to Clinton. They’d be better off with Pence. What they’ll end up with is Weiner.
Who said that there’s no justice in the world?
What we are seeing today is a generation of people inside and outside the church who laugh at moral rules like chastity. Instead of choosing chaste partners and being intelligent about settle moral boundaries, they think that they can achieve the same outcome (lifelong married love) with their own made-up “morality”. When you look around at the great crises of our time: abortion, divorce, single motherhood, you can clearly see that each begins with a decision to take what makes me feel good and disregard moral rules. Naturally, the people who break the rules never imagine that they will not get the same lifelong, married love that the rule-followers get. But of course, it doesn’t work like that. What the rule-breakers really get is Bill Clinton and Anthony Weiner. They fail the exam because they refused to prepare for it.