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The Billy Graham Rule on Steroids? TikTok Video Sparks Discussion on Opposite-Sex Friendships

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Composite image. Screenshot from TikTok / @jojosorrell

A TikTok video by a woman who goes by @jojosorell (“Jo”) has users lamenting how far some people take boundaries in opposite-sex friendships. While it appears the video is meant to be satirical, it touches on a broader conversation in evangelicalism regarding the so-called “Billy Graham Rule” and what it means for Christian men and women to be friends.

“Here are some boundaries my husband and I have in our marriage as a married couple still in college,” said Jo in a video posted Tuesday, Sept. 13. “Rule number one is we’re not allowed to sit beside the opposite sex in any of our classes. Rule number two is on discussion boards, you are only allowed to reply to the same sex. Last night, Tucker saw this really good discussion board by a girl named Riley, and I was just like, ‘I don’t really feel comfortable with that,’ so, yeah, he didn’t respond to her.”

@jojosorrell boundaries in our marriage while we’re still in college!!! #wifelife #libertyuniversity ♬ original sound – jojo

The Billy Graham Rule 

The “Billy Graham Rule” refers to evangelist Billy Graham’s conviction not to travel, meet or eat alone with a woman other than his wife. Graham actually had four rules of integrity that he followed, but it is the one about drawing boundaries with women with which most people are familiar.

Jo continues to list other rules she and her husband follow as a married Christian couple who attend Liberty University, including that they try not to have professors of the opposite sex. She says her husband joins her in the one class she has with a male professor. Finally, Jo says that when she and her husband introduce themselves to their classes each semester, they make sure to tell people they are married so that “no one tries to cross any boundaries.”

Quite a few people responded by taking the video as a joke, while others reacted in shock, and still others were not sure how to take it. The Twitter account Christian Nightmares reposted the video, saying, “This married Christian couple who are in college together have some rules for each other.” Many people on Twitter seemed inclined to take it seriously, with some calling Jo a “fanatic,” “control freak,” “insecure,” and a “case study for unhealthy relationships.”

Other videos from Jo seem to make it clear that she is poking fun at Christian stereotypes. In one video she says that her day as a stay-at-home wife consists of making her husband’s lunch, making snacks for his Ultimate Frisbee team, and making dinner for him after cheering him on at frisbee. In a follow up to her marriage boundaries video, Jo shows her friends reacting to the boundaries. One woman who says she is single (“shocking” for someone attending Liberty) says she is “taking notes” from Jo for her “future marriage, which I’m hoping is right around the corner. I’m already 20, so.”

In another video, Jo gives supposed reasons why she and her husband got married while still in college. In the video, she says that Liberty prevents dating couples from holding hands, has a 9:30 p.m. curfew, requires unmarried students to live on campus, makes unmarried women wear floor-length dresses, and allows couples to attend the university for free once they get married. “That is how bad they want you to get married,” she says.