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People Are Debating Whether Married Men Can Eat Alone With Other Women After This Pence Story

The revelation that the vice president won't dine alone with other women has sparked heated discussion on social media.

Posted on March 30, 2017, at 12:37 p.m. ET

The revelation that Vice President Mike Pence never eats alone with a woman other than his wife has sparked an interesting and rather heated debate on social media.

Alex Brandon / AP

According to a recent Washington Post profile of Karen Pence, the vice president told The Hill in 2002 that he never eats alone with any woman but his wife. He also reportedly told The Hill that he wouldn't attend events that served alcohol without his wife.

The Post profile characterized Karen Pence as a strong influence in her husband's political career and an integral part of the Trump campaign.

The story also explored the couple's evangelical Christian faith and its impact on their personal and political lives.

The dining revelation was defended by some as a personal choice made by the Pences, applauded by others as an example of relationship goals, and criticized by detractors as demeaning to women.

As writer Laura Turner explained in a Twitter thread, Pence was following an evangelical Christian practice known as "the Billy Graham Rule."

In 1948, renowned American evangelist Billy Graham vowed never to be alone with a woman other than his wife to avoid even the appearance of an inappropriate relationship and to protect his marriage, according to a Christianity Today article.

Turner acknowledged that the Billy Graham rule came "from a good place," but she criticized its modern-day interpretation, saying it was "dehumanizing" and reduced women "to sexual temptations."

People also argued that it was hypocritical of Pence to keep his distance from other women while choosing to remain on the Republican presidential ticket after last year's Access Hollywood tape emerged.

Evangelical blogger Rachel Held Evans said that the men who were defending Pence's adherence to the Billy Graham rule were the same ones who "shrug off Trump's bragging about sexual assault as NBD."

Some also noted that Pence's religious practice could potentially impact the hiring of women in the administration.

They wondered if Pence would dine with key figures in the White House such as Ivanka Trump and Kellyanne Conway.

There were also some who interpreted Pence's adherence to his faith as hypocritical when compared with the administration's perceived anti-Muslim sentiment.

"People's personal choices connected to religious faith must not be criticized. Also, let's ban Muslims," said Atlantic writer Adam Serwer, formerly of BuzzFeed News.

Pence is "waaaay more Muslim than Obama ever was," another mocked.

However, many people were quick to jump to Pence's defense, with some saying that he was being needlessly criticized for "being a decent husband."

This person said Pence shouldn't be attacked for "his loyalty to his wife."

Another was shocked that critics were slamming Pence for wanting to "honor and respect his wife in an environment in which temptation is rampant."

"If this was Obama, the people giving Pence shit for it would be saying 'relationship goals,'" this person said.

Others suggested it was not uncommon for politicians to want to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

A tweet from Christian columnist Matt Walsh, who questioned why a married person would have any reason to eat alone with a member of the opposite sex, reignited the debate on Thursday.

Several suggested potential reasons why a married person would go out for a meal with a member of the opposite sex.

For "your job," broadcaster Soledad O'Brien said.

"It's 2017, and some men are literally incapable of conceiving of women as friends," one reporter said.

Walsh was also mocked for his opinion that a married person was "inviting an affair" by being good friends with someone of the opposite sex.

However, several conservatives were quick to defend Walsh.

  1. So, what do you think: Is it ever OK for a straight married person to dine alone with a member of the opposite sex? Or a person of the same sex if it's a same-sex couple?

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So, what do you think: Is it ever OK for a straight married person to dine alone with a member of the opposite sex? Or a person of the same sex if it's a same-sex couple?
    vote votes
    Yes, of course.
    vote votes
    No, never.
    vote votes
    Only sometimes. (I'll explain in the comments.)

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