Yet even if there was some utility in embracing the Pence rule, it would come at far too great a cost. Pence is incredibly close with his wife Karen—so much so that she had a direct line to his desk as governor—and that’s admirable. But does maintaining such closeness really require shutting out, or at least limiting, one’s relationships with women?

Perhaps it would if you view men as so depraved that they lack the self-control to remain faithful or avoid sexual immorality. Yet Graham and his peers believed the nature of man was actually that barbaric when they invented the “Pence rule,” motivated by the fear that they would “[fall] into immorality.”

Both this language and thinking grant men almost no agency. Men are fully capable of controlling themselves in the presence of a woman, and do not “fall” into misconduct—they choose it. This means they’re fully capable of choosing not to misbehave, and to think otherwise is fundamentally pessimistic. Surely the vast majority of men can and do hold themselves to a higher standard.