Last Updated on March 21, 2018

I’m passionate about my marriage. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do to protect it. Recently, this meant renting a car and driving to the Philadelphia airport by myself.

It all started in December when Bob and I were trying to think of how to thank Suzy, our lead teacher of Secret Keeper Girl, for ten years of ministry partnership. A Caribbean cruise seemed to be just the thing, so we bought Suzy and her husband Jonathan two tickets. Of course, we thought we should tag along and got two tickets for our selves.

In the week leading up to our departure date, some challenges arose and Bob had to join Suzy and the rest of our Secret Keeper Girl team in Chattanooga the day before our vacation. That meant Jonathan and I would be departing from our hometown on our own rather than with Bob. I guess some women would have felt comfortable taking a four-hour drive to the airport with a trusted male friend. I didn’t.

And it’s because of something that happened in a hotel room in California almost 20 years before I was born.

One afternoon in 1948, a young Billy Graham invited a few friends—George Beverly Shea, Cliff Barrows, and Grady Wilson— to his hotel room in the city of Modesto. There in that room, the four men decided (among other things) that to protect their marriages they would never be alone in a room or travel alone in a vehicle with any woman other than their own individual wives. The commitments they made to each other became known as the Modesto Manifesto. From that day on, Graham stated, “I did not travel, meet, or eat alone with a woman other than my wife.” One of the great hallmarks of his life-long ministry is that it was scandal free. What a gift of faithfulness he gave to his precious wife, Ruth.

Bob and I heard about the practical way this man lived out his passion for his marriage when our own marriage was brand new. We decided to follow his example. We don’t follow it because we are speakers. We made the decision when we were in our 20s and working as marketing consultants with no dream of writing books, speaking, and traveling. Our verbal commitment to one another is something like this:

•We don’t go out to eat alone with someone of the opposite sex.

•We don’t get in a car or room alone with someone of the opposite sex.

•We copy one another when emailing someone of the opposite sex with personal information.

Through the years we have had friends, board members, business partners and complete strangers question our decision. But we’re stickin’ to it.

My vacation cost me $211.15 more than I’d planned for one simple reason: my marriage is priceless to me.



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  1. Great post! On facebook, my husband and I have separate accounts, but access to each other’s at all times. I have made it a rule that I don’t friend a male on facebook, unless he is friends with my husband. I’m not comfortable any other way.

    1. I like your commitment to your husband. As a single woman I have my own rules regarding Facebook. If a married man, long time friend or not, wants to friend request me, I will friend request his wife as well and, if needed, private message them together in one message. I want to protect their marriage as best I can.

  2. Please, please, please, follow this advice! My husband had also had this drilled into his head at it saved him when someone came back 12 years later and accused him of something he didn’t do. I thank God he was able to say he had NEVER been alone with that person & other people could vouch for him!

  3. Dannah, I have always respected Reverend Graham, but when I heard about this covenant years ago, my respect for him shot up even more. What a beautiful way to honor all the spouses involved. I applaud you for honoring this years later, even when some may argue it’s outdated. I agree, honoring your marriage and spouse is priceless. You are a great inspiration. Thank you for all you do. ❤️

  4. lorelee Siemens says:

    My parents modeled this for me. My dad was a pastor and made these rules part of his life. My husband and I do the same thing. People thinks it’s weird. But I feel safe knowing my husband and I are following this.

  5. …but this is extremely childish…

  6. My hubby and I have made a similar agreement. And we did it long before he was in ministry.

  7. I have never heard of this. I think you are on the right track. I pledge the same, from here on out. Thank you!

  8. I’m appalled by this… how can a relationship be built on such a lack of trust and privacy. I am so happy to know that the Millennial generation coming into relationships/marriage/parenting will put this type of toxic thinking to rest!

    1. Think you missed the point. Please reread it and explain how the “millenials” understand the value of marriage more than this author.

  9. I have never heard it called the “Modesto Manifesto.” I attend a Christian college and have a teacher that has talked about he and his wife have the same code. I think this is such a powerful thing. To love each other so much that you will go out of your way to protect your marriage even it costs financially. At my 20 years of age being with the man I will one day marry I have applied the same principle in a way. I do not travel with or go someone where alone with a male except my dad an grandpa I live with. It is not only a precaution for yourself but a sense of security for your spouse. Thank you for sharing!

  10. Julie Prinsloo says:

    Yes my husband and I did the same – were married for 48yrs 24/7 together best friends e soulmates e worked together until he died in my arms of cancer yesterday 1yr ago. It worked for us! Good for you! Anything precious needs nurturing and hard work but gives endless joy and happiness! Keep it up! You are on the right track! Good luck!!! Julie?

  11. Dannah Gresh says:

    Thanks for the feedback…both positive and negative. I guess I look at it this way… I love my husband of 25 years so much that I don’t want anything to ever possibly tempt one of us. As much as it is in control of him and I protecting each other, we will do so. But more than that, it’s a way we avoid appearing like we’re not being completely faithful. I hope that makes sense. As for trusting him. I do!

    1. How can this work for people in a business setting? At times it is unavoidable to be in a room alone with someone of the opposite sex. I can really see this working within life outside the workplace, but its not practical for those with careers in traditional business situations. I could never imagine telling my boss or his boss there needs to be a third person in the room.

      1. Dannah Gresh says:

        I’m sometimes in a room alone with a man, but the door is open. If I am meeting with someone or having a private conversation I make sure other people can see us. I think it’s possible to have business meetings and so forth within the context of this thinking.

        1. I appreciate your view, and as a married woman, I take protecting my relationship very seriously. However, I think this response is short-sighted. What if your career is in healthcare? In two years, I will graduate from medical school and be a physician. My job essentially requires me to be alone with patients for the sake of their privacy, and this even includes men (who are sometimes unclothed!). Physicians aside, consider nursing, a female-dominated profession, that places women in the same situations that I face (and probably more often). As part of your commitment, do you and your husband attend all doctor’s appointments together (and if you have a female MD and your husband has a male MD, do you also insist on a same sex medical assistant/nurse to triage you (“take you back”) when you arrive)?

          As I said, protecting my marriage is central to my life and identity, but I also think that women (and men) can operate in professional settings (business, medicine, whatever) without being tempted by every member of the opposite sex whom they encounter.

      2. I would love an answer to this too. My husband’s boss is a woman. This would be impossible for him! I don’t like that theses situations arise, but should I ask him to quit because of them?

  12. Julie Prinsloo says:

    Good for you! We did it for 48yrs 24/7 – best friends e soulmates e worked together until he died in my arms yesterday 1yr ago of cancer. Anything precious is worth hard work e gives joy e happiness! Keep it up – you are on the right track! Good luck!

    1. Dannah Gresh says:

      Julie. What a treasure. I’m so sorry for your loss. Know that I’m giving you a virtual hug right now.

  13. 1 Thessalonians 5:22, baby! ;D Avoid all appearance of evil. Don’t even put yourself in situations that could sully your name, or what people think of you. Being an example is important, and if we’re not sinning, we shouldn’t lead others to believe we are, even inadvertently.

    1. I read this and it doesn’t speak to what is being said in this article. You can wish and trust all you want that your boyfriend will be faithful, there is no proof that will happen. Your lack of accountability could in fact enable him to choose someone else over you. He may unwittingly put himself into very tempting circumstances.

      What if he just connects better with one of the girls? What if he “just knows” she is the one and not you? What if one of the young women behaves very innappropriately and he makes a stupid decision and does something he’ll regret but does none the less? What if he does it out of his own lack of self control or weakness? These things happen very often and your optimism isn’t based on healthy relationship development or statistics but on wishful thinking.

      You didn’t even read the article thoroughly. You say she is telling everyone to “swear off the opposite sex”? Where does she say that? Do you only feel you can have meaningful relationships if you’re alone with that person? So if you can’t meet one on one with someone of the opposite sex you won’t get together with them at all? The line of reasoning does not make sense.

      This specific article is speaking into marriages. Having researched and read about marriages as well as received lots of advice from married couples I can guarentee that if you are living in a wishful thinking “us against the world we’re different!” line of thought and offer weak accountability to your loved one you’re going to be very disappointed in the future. Or maybe you won’t, because you won’t know.

    2. Having a boyfriend is NOT the same as having a husband. When and if you get married, and have been married 7 years, please then opine.

  14. I agree with you a marriage is priceless. My husband and I have the same commitment to each other. God says not to put ourselves in place where we could sin or the appearance of evil. Been married 36 years so it does work.

  15. Christy Kirtlan says:

    My husband and I share this same sentiment, However I started a new job last month, which requires me to travel periodically with the man who is my boss. We are both happily married, Christians, and I am at least 15 years older than he. Since the travel is required, how do you propose I handle it, after I told him I was willing to travel? My husband and I discussed this and he approved. Most of the travel will be by car, 3-4 hours one way but no overnights. Thoughts?

  16. Great info. My husband and I have discussed the same thing. It’s better to put up a fence than to risk the things under my care (marriage included) run amock.

  17. My dad committed to never doing this either… I think it was a wonderful gift to my mother but also to my sister and I. We never worried that my dad would leave or do something to hurt my mother. It did leave me a little naive however that not all men would be faithful like my dad.

  18. Praise the Lord. My husband and I made that same decision 28 years ago and we’ve never regretted it.

  19. I think this is awsome. I have always felt the same way even before I was a christian. Even though my husband had a long and very public and hurtful affair. I could and would never want to cause him to ever doubt my respect for our marriage.

  20. Although I do appreciate the intention behind this, it is not always easy to hear as a single Christian woman. I’ve deeply appreciated the male brothers in Christ with whom I’ve worked over the years who traveled and ate with me on ministry trips verses cast me away to isolation because of my gender…It’s always been very unsettling to hear this shared from couples and to feel like a single woman is a harlot if she’s alone with a co-worker. The most encouraging situations for me are the ones whose marriages are so strong and the wife’s identities are so secure that I’m treated as a sister in Christ, cared for by my brothers in Christ. I understand the heart behind protecting ones marriage – but I have felt much more valued by men when they treated me as a sister….

  21. I was so great to read this today. You have been and remain a constant encouragement to me. Thanks for loving the Lord so much so you can love your husband unconditionally and do what you know brings glory the Lord.

  22. Really appreciate your post. Recently, another high ranking Christian figure “fell” due to his improper conduct with young women behind closed doors. We were contrasting that with Billy Graham’s strong witness and faultless reputation because he took it all seriously. He knew how important it was. I hope you will send a letter to Dr. Graham and tell him how much that meant to you. A lovely encouragement in his last days. May God bless you and your husband. PS we have been married 40 years and we have sought to keep the same commitment.

  23. Les Manthe says:

    Dannah, my wife and I (reading this to her as I type it) practice this and our Pastor taught it to us as teens. We come from a church of around 8-9000 people and the law of averages can tell you how often we have seen marriages not practicing these simple protocols whisked away by the enemy to become just another statistic.
    Great to see a wife write about it. The guys in our mens groups do indeed do it to protect that ‘security’ sense of our wives’ hearts and from what we’ve seen, it keeps us from even the contemplation of that particularly destructive temptation. Again, great to see it from a wife’s perspective. An honorable post.