When we were newlyweds, my husband started graduate school at a seminary whose president frequently recommends that men do everything within their power to safeguard their marriages and ministries. Nothing will destroy a pastor and his family faster than sexual scandal.
In addition to agreeing that he would not be alone with a person of the opposite sex, my husband gave me the remote control and asked me to set the viewing controls to restrict any type of program I thought would harm our marriage. He never knew the password in the years we had cable. When we got rid of cable, he started asking me to look up reviews of movies to determine whether we should watch them.
My husband’s actions showed me that he wanted me to trust him and that he valued me. I respect him for this and feel cherished and loved. It takes humility to admit that you are capable of falling. But it also made me aware of the grave possibility of temptations that have the power to destroy our marriage.
So when I heard of Vice President Mike Pence’s personal policy for his conduct with women who are not his wife, I grew in respect for him. When I heard about the allegations of sexual misconduct against former Fox personality Bill O’Reilly, I wondered if he might have his job today had he espoused similar policies. Because of these allegations, Fox fired O’Reilly last week. O’Reilly issued a statement calling it “tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims.”
Following Pence’s Model Could Have Protected Bill O’Reilly
If the claims are indeed unfounded, it would be easier to prove this (and less likely they would have arisen in the first place) if O’Reilly had treated interactions with women as Pence does. Pence’s policy aims to put him above reproach. A man who is never alone with a woman besides his wife is trying to prevent even a hint of infidelity and can dispute false allegations, and his wife should be able to trust his faithfulness to her. A man who doesn’t drink alcohol without his wife wants to prevent foolish inebriated behaviors that could hurt his marriage. These two rules Pence holds are an extension of his wedding vows to remain faithful to his wife until death should part them.
Pence’s personal policy also shows respect for women. A politician with his standard for conduct frees women to be merited based on their abilities and performance, rather than on their attractiveness or flirtatious behavior. It levels the playing field for women because it attempts to protect them from unwanted advances.
Pence’s personal convictions also show esteem for the covenant he made to his wife in their marriage vows. He is attempting to protect his marriage and seeking to love his wife well because he values her. The world should see that he is a one-woman man and that he recognizes sin starts with temptation. In this he demonstrates a high view of his wife, his wedding vows, and the institution of marriage.
If It Doesn’t Make Sense, Check Your Senses
Outside of a traditional view of marriage, understanding Pence’s convictions is impossible. Such conduct is not the action of a misogynist, it is the conduct of a man who highly values the most important woman in his life. Nor does it suggest that women are around only to entice or domesticate — it actually protects women from sexual harassment.
To accuse Pence of following sharia law is ignorant of both sharia law and how Christianity defines the role of a husband, because in creating these boundaries for himself Pence is actually giving himself for his wife. He is showing he will forsake possibly advantageous business dinners by prioritizing his wife over all other women and over his career. It is loving and honorable. This man knows that sexual immorality, all impurities, and covetousness have no place among the saints.
Pence’s policy does not absolutely prevent him from sexually harassing women, but it is a good safeguard. A man with such a policy is likely thinking about how to respectfully treat women and how certain behaviors will have unfavorable, and possibly destructive, repercussions. Perhaps that would have also protected O’Reilly from the accusations against him.
When a man does not have such policies, and is not admitting risk of impurity, he opens up himself not only to allegations, but also to temptations. We cannot run from temptations if we do not know or admit they are there. Carefully considering how we should act with the opposite sex is vital for adults who want to live honorably. Adopting Pence’s policy, or any other standard for conduct, is no guarantee of living a pure life, but it is an admission that purity is worth fighting for.
We can’t condemn Pence for his efforts to act honorably and condemn O’Reilly for his alleged sexual harassment at the same time. The allegations against O’Reilly are just one of the reasons Pence’s policy is so important — it strives to protect women from being victims in addition to attempting to protect Karen Pence from the pain of an unfaithful husband. Pence’s policy holds women and marriage in high regards. His love of his wife and his protection of his marriage is good for everyone.
Tucker Carlson is reportedly taking over O’Reilly’s spot at Fox News. If I could offer him a piece of advice, I’d tell him to conduct himself more like Pence than his predecessor. It would help protect both his job and marriage.