It's fascinating to watch non-religious people react with wide-eyed astonishment at the decision of Vice President Mike Pence and his wife to observe what many call "the Billy Graham rule".

A story about Billy Graham goes something like this: In 1949 or 1950, after one of his famous evangelistic meetings, Graham returned to his hotel room to find a naked woman lying on his bed, ready to seduce him in an attempt to destroy his ministry. Graham, cautious and humble as usual, fled the hotel room and immediately implemented a rule that would come to bear his name: From that day forward, Graham would not travel (including by car), eat or meet alone with a woman other than his wife, Ruth. ...

Recently, a Washington Post article about second lady Karen Pence has brought the Billy Graham Rule back into the public eye. The article cites a 2002 interview with Vice President Pence -- who has called himself an "evangelical Catholic" -- saying that he "never eats alone with a woman other than his wife," and that he doesn't attend events serving alcohol unless she is with him as well.

Generally the response from the left has been to focus on the impact of this rule on the women that Mike Pence won't meet with privately -- it's not fair to be denied private access to the Vice President.

But good intentions do not always produce helpful consequences. In this case, the Billy Graham Rule risks reducing women to sexual temptations, objects, things to be avoided. It perpetuates an old boys' club mentality, excluding women from important work and career conversations simply by virtue of their sex.

But why should the Pences' personal decisions about their marriage be subject to public judgement? Why should they be required to run their marriage in a way that most benefits the careers of the women around them?

As the entire internet has noted by now: Bill Clinton's affair with an intern in the Oval Office was declared to be a personal matter, and certainly had no impact on his job performance or the career prospects of the women around him. It's hard to see how the Pences' approach to marriage is more offensive or dangerous than established presidential standard.

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