A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Every Appearance of Evil, and the Billy Graham Rule – another great post by Sam Powell

Head’s up: Every Appearance of Evil, and the Billy Graham Rule by Ps Sam Powell is very good.  We encourage you to go there and read it.


  1. God-fearing mom

    You’re right! This was really good! 🙂 I have felt this way of interpreting it was highly questionable and I didn’t know how to defend myself against it. This one’s a keeper. Thanks!

  2. Anonymous

    Thank you for highlighting this post.

    God has shown me that while I didn’t necessarily cognitively think of this Bible verse when certain situations presented themselves, that when His spirit dwells in us, the Holy Spirit’s REAL discernment guides us.

    In one of our first homes together my husband’s “friends” from before our relationship started coming around. One couple in particular. My husband would be gone for months at a time and he always told me that if I needed anything, to call this one guy. Well, this guy would periodically “stop by” to see if I needed anything. Initially it seemed random but as time went on he came by more and more often. I did not feel safe and even though he was supposedly a friend of my husband’s, I stopped answering the door to him and refused to answer the phone when he called. In time it was revealed that this couple were swingers and my husband had hoped to entice me into this lifestyle. (Looking back I realize he’d tried to do this from the beginning of our marriage by telling me horrendous stories of how a bunch of couples we both knew through work would have “key” parties where every couple would put their car keys into a bowl, and as they were leaving, whoever’s keys the person grabbed, they went home with. I was sickened by the mere THOUGHT of this and angered as well so he never broached the subject outright with me. Prior to our relationship he’d had no one to bring to these parties, so he was probably mad that I was disgusted and offended by even addressing it.)

    Another instance was with a neighbor woman who had children that were similar in age to my own, who I could switch off with to babysit when the other needed to run to the store or wanted to go out with their spouse. We’d known each other for a few years and she was miserable in her marriage to a man much more abusive than my own. One day we were in my home chatting and watching the kids play and she started to touch my leg in a sexual manner. This had never happened to me and I simply got up and sat in a chair across the room while continuing the conversation as though nothing had occurred but after that day I limited my dealings with her.

    Most of here know that no matter how hard we try to keep from having even an appearance of doing evil, our abusers still–rather easily it seems–find ways to manipulate other peoples perceptions and paint us as doing evil. But when we belong to Jesus we know that He will put us in situations where we interact with all types and kinds of people and I know that in my life I’m so often surprised by the outcome. People I thought were possibly one way end up being a total surprise and people I thought should be another way with wisdom and understanding due to the hardships they’d suffered, end up being the most evil people I’ve met up until that point. Rich or poor, fat or thin, young or old—it is THE HEART that God judges us by and what He wants us to reach when we interact with others. So when HE shows us someone’s heart we make decisions based on what HE’S allowed us to discern regardless of what others try to insist is happening or worrying about their impression of us. (Abusers always seem to try to make us OVERLY aware of how others perceive us to the point that we aren’t serving God but trying to ensure we’re not giving others the wrong impression. Just another form of imprisonment.)

    This may make some people mad but I am not a fan of Billy Graham. I’ve researched and prayed about this over the course of years and I am simply stating it here so that if others have thought this they should know that they are not alone. That old fear of toppling an idol–I’m not afraid at all but I know others may have more to lose–I lost it all years ago and am left with God alone……

  3. debby

    My only caution is that we live in an age of “video-on-demand” where pictures and video of a single second (a smile, a caring touch, an emotional look in an otherwise, innocuous, sincerely trying to help someone or get business taken care of situation) of interaction can be taken, misinterpreted, and spread about the world in a heartbeat. It’s not a “nosy neighbor” that should be concerning, but the knee-jerk, judge-first-and-then-let-them-justify (but then its too late and nobody will believe you) social media environment that is now our reality. Satan IS out to steal, kill and destroy, and if its our reputation, that counts as a notch on his belt as well. Be discerning. Mike Pence is an attractive, powerful man, with many who would like to take advantage of that or destroy it. Given his position, I think he is very wise, for this time in his family’s life, to be extra cautious.

    • As Sam pointed out in his post: “there may be all sorts of valid reasons to try to avoid getting into a situation alone with a member of the opposite sex” — so I think your caution is common sense and reasonable Debby and it may especially apply to public figures. And of course, Mike Pence is free to make his own rules for his own behaviour.

      But the main point of Sam’s article was that 1 Thess 5:22 doesn’t actually mean that. As Sam said:

      “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1Th 5:22 KJV)

      This is generally interpreted by small-minded men as an excuse to avoid interacting for good in the lives of others. When the passage is poorly translated, and taken out of context, it appears as if it is saying that one should avoid doing anything that someone else might take as being evil. Thus, lazy and guilt-ridden men can avoid interaction with “undesirables” and still pretend to take the high ground. …

      There may be all sorts of valid reasons to try to avoid getting into a situation alone with a member of the opposite sex but the “appearance of evil” is not one of them.

      Sam wasn’t implying that Mike Pence is lazy or guilt ridden. Sam was pointing out that this verse has often been interpreted in a very wooden legalistic way by lazy and guilt-ridden people.

      • debby

        Thank you, Barbara. I don’t want to muddy the message here! I think this “look at my really stringent boundaries everyone” is a form of phariseeism and legalism, designed to throw off the scent, when in reality, some are merely doing inappropriate things out of the public eye. I in no way am saying Mike Pence is doing this. Just a cautionary tale that this can be used as a manipulation tactic.

  4. Finding Answers

    I wonder if some of the hubris could be sloughed off by not calling certain choices the “Billy Graham Rule.” Perhaps then, there would be less opportunity to drag in and misuse Scripture.

    Pastor Sam, in his posts on the “Billy Graham Rule” provided some meaty food for thought. I would be inclined to believe adding them to a “required reading” list in many circles would prove beneficial. As Pastor Sam writes, discernment is the key, including the knowledge of one’s heart.

    The circumstances play a role, absolutely. The people in the circumstances play a role, absolutely. The heart of the observer plays a role, absolutely.

Leave a comment. It's ok to use a made up name (e.g Anon37). For safety tips read 'New Users Info' (top menu). Tick the box if you want to be notified of new comments.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: