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The sexual escapades of powerful men are back in national headlines, highlighted recently by former Rep. Anthony Weiner, former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
Evangelical leaders have long maintained safeguards to protect themselves from even temptation. But the days when a man could run a major organization or a government office without being in close proximity to women colleagues are past, said Michael Lindsay, Gordon College president and author of Faith in the Halls of Power. "As laudable as Dr. [Billy] Graham's practice was—to never meet privately with a woman—it's a practical impossibility in today's workplace environment."
That includes parachurch ministries, where women are climbing the ranks. In the last seven years, six women became presidents of evangelical colleges, Cherie Harder was appointed president of the Trinity Forum, and Joanna Mockler chaired the board of World Vision.
And while infidelity trends have been stable for the past 20 years, studies do show that more members of the opposite sex in the workplace is linked to more infidelity, according to W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia. "A private office with a glass window can solve a lot of problems," he said.
Refusing to eat or travel alone with someone of the opposite sex are strategies that Michael Hyatt, former ceo of Thomas Nelson, said he uses to protect his marriage. While he's willing to be flexible—he has been on a business trip with a woman when their male colleague was ill—he said he discusses everything with his wife. He also talks about his wife often and positively, something he calls "the best adultery repellant known to man."
"Men that are wise will be intentional about this," Hyatt said. "It's naive to think that somehow we can be so sanctified that we don't have to take into account our biology. … I've seen ministries, individual's ...