Skip to main content

Billy Graham: His Grandson and His 'Rule'


The tragic news hit the cyber-fan yesterday. Tullian Tchividjian, grandson of evangelist Billy Graham, admitted to adultery. According to the reports, his wife first began an adulterous relationship, after which they separated. During that time, he also committed adultery. He admitted to his sin and (rightly) stepped down from being a pastor.

How should we as Christians react?

Pray: Stop gossiping and start praying - for Tchividjian, his wife and children. Adultery is a sin which hurts everyone in a family. We want to see them healed and restored. Though adultery is an evil, we should be slow to cast stones since we are also prone to temptation.

Give Space: Lead pastors are often overworked and take miniscule breaks to actually pray, study the Bible and be with God. Church leadership should make prayer and personal Bible study part of their pastor’s job description. A pastor should be a friend of God and that takes time – time he often feels he doesn’t have. 
This may have been a factor in the Tchividjian tragedy as his recent public teachings reflect the error of ‘hyper-grace’ – an extreme teaching on grace which lacks the fear of the Lord.

Befriend: Lead pastors are some of the loneliest people I know. Often their wives are too. As church leaders, they are always expected to have their act together. Others bring their problems, sins and failures to them. But who do they bring their problems to? Who does the lead pastor confess his sin to? His leadership position surrounds him with people but also puts a pressure on him that keeps him from sharing his brokenness.
The only thing your pastor needs as much as your prayers and his own time with God is friends. Friends for both him and (if he’s married) his wife are essential for their own spiritual health. They need vulnerable relationships where they can participate in the ‘one-another’ commands of the New Testament.
I am human and I need to be loved,
Just like everybody else does
- The Smiths

Rethink the Rule: ‘The Billy Graham Rule’ is an idea that has emerged over the last thirty or so in some church circles as a means of guarding against sexual immorality. It is unfortunately named as Rev. Graham never intended it to be a rule. When he was young in the ministry he began getting national media attention who were hungry for news of a scandal. In order to protect himself under such pressure, he made a personal rule never to be alone with a woman.
Other people have taken that personal decision by Graham and, unfortunately, made it a watershed of integrity. Much pressure has been put on pastors of small churches to adopt such a rule even without media following them. The result is that few pastors have deep and meaningful friendships with women.

What is most sad about this, is that there is no evidence that adopting this ‘rule’ has helped rid Evangelical circles of sexual immorality one bit. Some argue that things are worse. In relation to Tchividjian, one commentator said that he should have obeyed his Grandfather’s ‘rule’. But is it really that simple? For most of his life and ministry Tchividjian both practiced and advocated the rule. Obviously the couple was not in a healthy place as the wife was in an ongoing adulterous relationship.

Keeping men and women in separate rooms may make sexual immorality technically impossible, but it does nothing to address the pain, loneliness and brokenness that drive people to adultery and other destructive actions (porn, alcoholism, drug abuse, etc). Pastors - like all Christian men - need to engage with women as real friends and not see them foremost as potential adulteresses. According to Scripture, they are to be sisters and mothers. Godly cross-gender friendships can give health and strength in ways that are unique to same-gender friendships. The more meaningful friendships a man has with women, the less likely he will be to objectify and use women. For men and women, these family relationships are a deterrent to sexual immorality.

It is much rarer to lust after a sibling than a stranger.

If you've liked this message, please share or leave a comment on the FB link. 

Also, if you would like a FREE chapter from my book, Forbidden Friendships, just email me at

Or, you can get the whole book off Amazon: Here in the USA  or Here in the UK


Popular posts from this blog

Dear Pro-Gay Christian Friend

[Response to the letter Dear Non-Affirming Christian]
Dear Pro-Gay Christian Friend,
Thank you for taking the time to write me. Sadly, it seems you misunderstand why I met with you for coffee. Please let me explain my motives by defining the words in my salutation above. Would this be too terrible a way to go about it?
Let’s start with ‘friend’ shall we? You rightly question this term as an accurate description of our relationship. For now, let's simply say I mean it as an expression of good will - but will return to it again at the end of the letter. Then there's this term, 'pro-gay'. By this, I don't mean your personal sexual urges. There have historically been – and are today – countless godly leaders in the church who have deep sexual and romantic attractions to people of the same gender. In spite of their desires, they remain celibate and teach orthodox views of gender and sexuality. In your letter, you repeatedly refer to me as a ‘non-affirming Christian’, but I …

Where I Turn Down a Gay 'Wedding' Invitation

Dear Katie,
I hope this letter finds you well. You’ve been on my mind lately as it’s been a few weeks since we’ve met up. We’re overdue to grab a coffee – I hope we can soon. I also want to thank you for thinking of me as you sent out invitations for what I know will be a big day for you and Joanna. I’ve known you since before you met her (two years ago now, is it?) and I appreciate all you’ve shared with me about how meaningful that relationship is to you. It was especially kind of you given my Christian faith. You've never directly asked me my views on gender or sex in much detail. But I think our conversations must have touched on it enough times to at least make you a bit unsure of my reaction when you sent the invitation. I have to say 'no' to your kind invitation. You know that I care for you and that I value our friendship. You know I don't reject you because you are gay. So, would it be too much to ask of you if I explain why my faith would make attendance at your…

Driscoll Returns, ‘Christian Today’ Melts.

Sometimes in the course of events, a peculiar thing happens that then triggers a response more peculiar still. This is what we now see with the return of Pastor Mark Driscoll to the church scene.
For those unfamiliar with the drama, Mark Driscoll was a church planter and Bible teacher who made a big impact in the least churched city in the USA: Seattle. Thousands professed faith in Christ through his ministry. But he left the church that he had started under dark circumstances. No, it wasn’t adultery as is so often the case with some of these big-name preachers. Rather, it was heavy-handed leadership―resulting in many spiritually crushed church members―that drove him to resign.
Now, three years later, he is leading a new church and many are downloading his sermons once again. This is not without some valid controversy―for reasons we’ll mention soon. But what is most noticeable is not his peculiar return. It is the reaction among those who lean left of classical Christian teaching: the …