By now the story of how Mike Pence refuses to dine with women other than his wife has been covered extensively. I was struck, however, by this passage explaining the origin of the "Billy Graham Rule" at the blog Ain't I A Woman:
Originating during a conversation between Graham, the well-known evangelist, and three of his male ministerial friends, they decided the things that tempted them the most were money and sexual immorality. Because they wanted to avoid falling into temptation, they decided to avoid situations where they might succumb to the latter. Hence, don’t eat alone with women.
What struck me about this in particular was how studious Graham and his colleagues were about setting up a rule to save them from sexual temptation, but not from the temptation of money. I mean, sure they're both temptations, but let's get our priorities straight, right?
And that, I think, is how we wound up with decade upon decade of evangelical preachers rolling around in huge piles of cash while lauding their own Christian virtue. And of course, they still wound up in sex scandal after sex scandal!
Ultimately though, this is what it comes down to:
The reason evangelicals are surprised by the pushback over this revelation is that chivalry toward women is regularly confused with treating women with respect. Many evangelicals think that “protecting” women from the harsh realities of the world demonstrates how much they value women. Of course underlying this assumption is that this is entirely a male perspective. Much like the meeting between Graham and his friends, they extrapolate from their experience, a rule that in their minds applies to all people, regardless of the fact that women are not included except as people to be acted upon. In other words, women are objects, mostly sexual ones.
For my part, I've always thought the way to show respect to women is to treat them like human beings, equals with autonomy.