SFL Flashback: Car Codes of Conduct

This post was originally featured on SFL in July of 2010.

Since its inception, the primary purpose of the automobile has always been to provide venue for pastors to lose their testimonies. It may also (as a strictly secondary function) provide some modicum of useful transportation.

It is a well known fact in fundamentalism that even the most restrained and moderate of people lose all self-control once they set foot in a motor vehicle. Unless carefully monitored, riding in a car with a member of the opposite sex can lead to fornication, drunkenness, and head-on collisions with trains — possibly all three at the same time.

In the interest of preventing these unfortunate occurrences, the following rules should be observed by any fundamentalists who intends to travel by automobile.

– Pastors should never enter a car with a woman. Ever. If that means leaving her to be eaten by wolves then so be it. Your ministry is too important to risk.

– If two people who are dating should happen to need to travel together for sanctioned ministry purposes such as traveling too and from Bible college, they must travel in no smaller vehicle than a 15 passenger van and be seated for maximum separation distance between them. Please consult the following chart:

– If two people are currently pretending not to be dating so they can sit together on the long, long missions trip to Mexico they must be separated at all times by the width of a King James Bible (Wide Margin, Oxford Press, 1769 edition, 3rd printing).

– Chaperons shall be strategically placed in the vehicle in such a manner that all hands, feet, elbows, and knees are in plain view at all times. If a chaperon is unavailable this task may be relegated to a child who has demonstrated great alacrity in the tattling department.

– Every trip shall begin with a prayer in which the driver shall make it clear to all within earshot that the continued safety of all passengers from accident or freak avalanche depends on the above rules being kept with utmost vigor.

Observe these rules well and it may be possible to keep the inevitable vehicular orgies to a bare minimum. And keep an eye out for those oncoming trains.

42 thoughts on “SFL Flashback: Car Codes of Conduct”

  1. A man in my dad’s church ripped his thumb off in a farming accident. His wife couldn’t drive. I was very young, probably 7-8, but I clearly remember that there was quite a discussion about whether my dad should accompany the man and his wife to the trauma center, since it was likely that my dad and the wife would have to come back together… alone. The hospital was several hours away and our family only had one car. They were trying to find someone to watch us kids so mom could go with them. Finally, they decided that “just this once” it would be okay, but it was definitely an issue.

    1. I can only imagine how likely it was for your dad and this poor distraught woman to start copulating wildly during this traumatic time. Good grief.

    2. (Finally, they decided that β€œjust this once” it would be okay, but it was definitely an issue.)


      It is only an issue if you are an IFB Preacher! πŸ˜‰

    3. Holy crap! They sat around debating this while the man’s hand spurted blood?

      What the heck is wrong with some people?

    4. As has been observed repeatedly at SFL, fundamentalists are obsessed with sex and with “the appearance of evil,” even when something that obviously takes precedence is happening right there.

      I’m trying to imagine the reaction of my (Episcopal) priest to a phone call like this.

      “Father Gordon, I wanted to let you know that Mike has to go to the hospital.”

      “Oh, that’s awful. How can I help?”

      “Well, we’re trying to figure out how to get me back and forth.”

      “So you need a ride?”

      “Oh, no, I have a ride, it’s just that it’s with John next door, and we realized after we made the arrangements that there isn’t anybody who can ride with us.”

      “Er . . . ride with you?”

      “Well, yes, because he’s a man, and I’m a woman . . . ”

      ***long bug-eyed silence***

      *deep breath* “Okay, Marlene, I am telling you, right here, right now, to go to the hospital with John and be with your husband. And I need to set an appointment with you to discuss getting a counselor for whatever prompted that question. ‘Bye now. Keep me posted.”

      *hangs up*

      *stares at the wall for a long, long time*

      ” . . . Baptists. Lord help us, Baptists.

      1. Did you used to be a Fundy? I grew up IFB Baptist, and have been visiting an Episcopal church for the last year now. Love.It. Everyone there is so…..normal……lol πŸ˜‰

  2. When I read things like this it just is an affirmation that I was indeed in a fundamental church. Amazing how these rules transcend through places all over.

  3. (Chaperons shall be strategically placed in the vehicle in such a manner that all hands, feet, elbows, and knees are in plain view at all times.

    Observe these rules well and it may be possible to keep the inevitable vehicular orgies to a bare minimum.)

    But who is going to keep an eye on the Chaperons? 😎


  4. “If a chaperon is unavailable this task may be relegated to a child who has demonstrated great alacrity in the tattling department.” This is one thing Fundies get right, the value of small and annoying little kids as chaperons against ANY kind of hanky-panky; just ask any teenager with a small sibling trying to even touch their significant other while avoiding that dreaded “Whaddya doin’?”
    Forget Big Brother, it’s Little Brother and Little Sister who are always watching. πŸ˜† :mrgreen:

  5. Forget only applying to pastors, that rule applies to every church member at my fundy church.

  6. Hey, we were taught about the Perilous Hallway of peril… soooo, you just, should never, ever never, even be on the same road, without a chaperon in your car if there is going to be a member of the opposite sex alone in their vehicle on that road . Especially not in a straight drive vehicle, with a shifter knob… that’s Satan’s tool right there! 😈

  7. These rules used to be important and make a little bit of sense to me.

    And now the farther I get from Fundamentalism, the crazier it is. Crazy of the flying-mammal-guano variety.

  8. This reminds me of those terrible times organizing transportation to and from the Wilds. You would have thought we were planning a spy mission.

  9. We solved the pastor problem by having my sister, mother or I in the car too. And since basically all of us stayed at home or the church all the time it was really easy to grab one or all of us and go.
    XD I was the tattle tale child on trips too. Man why did people put up with me as a kid?

  10. And a lot of your conservative evangelical and Southern Baptists also teach it’s wrong or dangerous for any man and woman to be together, because men are huge horn dogs or rapists in waiting, and women are all sexual temptresses who are just dying to rip a man’s clothing off, especially single women.

    I believe this paranoia of the opposite sexes being near one another combined with the myth that people cannot control themselves is one thing contributing to the prolonged singleness of Christian adults.

    It’s ironic. Some Christians complain about Christians not marrying at all, or not getting married ’til much later in life, but their stupid teachings about dating and gender roles contributes to this very thing.

    1. Spot on! I was just entering puberty when my family landed in an IFB church. That church became our whole identity for several years until my dad wised up and got us out of there. So I was indoctrinated at the critical time in my life when 1. my very natrual interest in boys was just waking up and 2. when I had just discovered church and was saved. I was in Bible college at the time we left that brand of fundy (not one of the infamous list of Fundy U’s) and we landed in a GARB church. I managed to shed most of the craziness over the years, but the instilled fear of men stuck. I didn’t marry until I was 54. Not that I didn’t get attention now and again, but I was very adept at freezing out any guy who drifted my way. I was terrified of men. I was also scared of what people would think of me if I did develop a relationship with one. Why?! That was silly. But there it was. I also feared what I figured was inevitable rejection. Finally, when I met the wonderful guy I am now married to, I had to bury all of this junk and trust God to help me through. It took a lot of prayer to keep me from running away yet again.

    2. I’m still not comfortable with men who are openly/devoutly Christian. I’m far more comfortable with just regular guys who don’t give off creeper vibes or “I can’t be alone with you because I may be forced to violate you, but it wouldn’t be my fault because you’re the insatiable temptress who made me do it” vibes.

      1. I wonder how many times I made women feel that way about me because of this rules? πŸ˜₯

    3. Oh yes, the infamous Jon Acuff post about not accepting a ride to the airport from a female church staffer, and getting a male to replace the female. I even wrote him to explain that while I kinda understood, sorta; and I knew the fountain that this kind of craziness stemmed from, his actions just promoted this thinking that men and women became ravenous sex beasts as soon as the car doors closed, vows to others discarded along with the clothes, to lie on top of the Arby’s bag in the backseat.*

      (Also that if that happened in the secular world, to one of my employees, I would ensure that you had a reprimand logged with HR for that move.)

      *My car is so very unsexy….seriously, there are kids’ socks and takeout bags and dog hair. If I wanted romance, or even just plain old sex, most anyplace would be preferable. Another point, every car I have is just loaded with windows. So unsexy, and danged near public. Cringe.

    4. “I believe this paranoia of the opposite sexes being near one another combined with the myth that people cannot control themselves”

      I think they simply do not understand human sexuality all that well. They make rules that are silly, and fail to make rules when they would be helpful.

      They believe on one hand, that people cannot ever control themselves. On the other, they have extremely naive and unrealistic expectations.

      A realistic expectation is that 90% of the people who come to a pastor to get married have already had sex. That’s a statistically valid figure that hasn’t changed in 60-65 years.

      What the percentages are of teenagers who had sex in the church van on the way to the Wilds, I don’t know but I’m guessing it’s a lot lower than 90%. Hay rides, on the other hand…

  11. LOL! I laughed so hard when reading this because of the truth of it. I was scared to death to be alone with any guy even for a few seconds because I didn’t want anyone to think I was a floozy or something. πŸ™„

    One time, I was talking to my youth pastor about something as he was walking to get the 15 passenger van to take all of us somewhere. When we arrived to the van, I started to walk back into the church and go to the front where everyone was going to be picked up. He told me to go ahead and get in the van since I was already there. I got in and did go to the very back.

    I still want to protect my reputation, but I don’t go overboard anymore.

    1. Oh. And we had a 6 inch rule. A man and a woman (unless they were married) or a teenage boy and girl could not be closer to each other than 6 inches at any time.

  12. Anyone from Hammond remember when Hyles went high maintenance and bought a Cadillac with white wall tires. He mentioned in his sermon “Jim Bakker and Robert Schuller aren’t the only ones to drive Cadillac.”

  13. These stupid rules still mess me up even now, in my mid-40s. And that was just in the SBC churches I attended (was never in an IFB church). Was married once, and I’m open to doing it again someday, but I don’t even know where to begin.

  14. Isn’t it possible that many people don’t do this (including MANY non-IFB pastor) simply to avoid any he-said, she-said situation?

    At every conference I’ve been to, Pastors are always advised to not be alone with a female – not because of their “raging hormones”, but because they need to never be in a position where they can be confused.

    With all the indignation this site has towards men of God who have chased after people, or have been at least accused of it – doesn’t it make sense not to put yourself in a situation where an accusation may occur?

    Sure, we can throw around extreme examples, and there are always people who will take things to illogical extremes. However, I think it’s a fine idea to avoid any situation where an accusation can ruin your life, career, and image.

    1. Those rules never stopped any “men of God” that we talk about on here from abusing anyone.

    2. I don’t see anything wrong with people not putting themselves in compromising positions, particularly if they themselves (or their partners) are uncomfortable with them. But if they and their partners are fine with a situation, it’s really no one else’s business what’s going on.

      Pastors, teachers and others in positions of authority are in a slightly different position and they need to protect themselves for legal reasons — not because they think they’re going to be tempted.

      I think that’s what this comes down to, just as it always does: The IFB seeks to control people’s outward behavior rather than concerning itself with our hearts. It doesn’t work. If you want to get away with hanky panky, you will. And if you don’t, you won’t.

  15. I have been in various fundamental churches (from pretty normal to crazy) for a long time. While there is plenty of craziness, there could be some reasons for the separation. A couple of real-life stories:

    While on an extended business trip, two co-workers (one male, one female; both married, but not to each other) spent an awful lot of time together. This started office gossip, so it’s not just IFB types that think there may be something awry. The women left her husband; I don’t know what happened to the man. But justified or not, the appearance caused a lot of comment.

    On Secretary’s Day (probably now called Administrative Assistant’s Day), the boss would take his secretary out for lunch. A nice gesture, but they would go out alone. Once again, this raised comment in the office.

    Perhaps I just work in a more conservative environment, but both of these examples convince me that people WILL talk if a man & woman are alone together.

  16. Long time reader… Can’t resist this one. Our youth pastor had a rule that “guys and gals” (as he called them, who talks like that?!?) were not permitted to sit next to each other on the youth group bus and must sit in alternating rows on the youth group van. At night, students were required to sit straight up (no lying down) in order to “avoid all appearances of evil.” God knows what happens when teenagers lie down. To enforce the rule, the “only-skirts-shall-be-worn” youth pastor’s wife (an unpaid position at the church) flip her sun-visor to the down position and affixed a rearward looking mirror to keep her eyes on things. How on earth did I survive this crap…

  17. I think I disagree with “Guilt Ridden” (respectfully, of course). I just don’t see any implicit or explicit instruction in the Bible for us to avoid personalized contact with the opposite sex in order to prevent people from “thinking evil of us.” IMO, that kind of thinking promotes man-fearing… And, God knows, the IFB churches I was a part of it were “man-fearing experts.” They still are. To the contrary, I think being with the opposite sex (work meetings, travel to off-sites, etc.) is a great opportunity to demonstrate what healthy, opposite-sex relationships look like. I set myself apart at work by respecting my female co-workers (without mauling or drooling all over them). Our IFB churches never taught us how to have healthy relationships with women–they taught us that they were the products of sexual temptation (and needed to be avoided). So sad.

    I have come to believe that those pastors who couldn’t stop talking about sex and the inherent temptations of being alone with “the girls” were simply trying to make up for the losses encountered in their own battles for “sexual purity” (their words).

  18. How ironic that IFBs that purport to be more spiritual than anyone else cannot rise above the hormone factor when promulgating their hefty, arduous, lengthy Baptist Talmud. True story: two students of Jack Trieber’s college, a brother and sister, were forbidden to drive home for Christmas together unless someone else was in the car with them. A brother and sister! This is beyond YUK! Yet, in order to demonstrate how “above-uber-spiritual” the school was, they reduced all discourse down to ravenous sexual impulses and hormones. This would be laughable if it wasn’t so glaringly absurd!

    1. You can’t travel in the same car with your brother or sister?
      What the heck is wrong with these people?

    2. Perfectly stated: “they reduced all discourse down to ravenous sexual impulses and hormones.” This “theme” could be a blog in itself. Sad part? Still happening. In hindsight, nearly every rule that “governed my life” in the late mid 90’s (while a student at Bob Jones University) was directed toward sexuality. Nicely stated, Ken.

  19. Haha @ couple must be separated by at least KJB. I remember a preacher at youth camp once said, “I know many a teenager who’ll easily climb over Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John to get to the opposite sex!”
    As a teen, I was guilty as charged. πŸ˜›

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