Brotherly Love: Christians and Male-Female Friendships
Christian culture gets sex and gender all wrong. Yes, men and women can be friends and can hang out together – whether married or single – and sex will not, and does not, have to happen. It seems to me it is secular culture that fosters the stereotype that men and women can never be platonic friends, and the church has bought into this lie, which ultimately alienates anyone over age of 30 who is still single.
We relate to the opposite sex in the best source of community we know, the church.
- by Anna Broadway
Wary of how these friendships can turn into romances and affairs, plenty of evangelicals advise against them. At a recent Southern Baptist conference on sexuality, pastor Kie Bowman suggested men not “get in a car (alone) with woman who is not your wife unless she’s your mother’s age.” On the other end of the spectrum, Christian writers like Dan Brennan and Jonalyn Fincher argue that “cross-sex friendships” are worth the risk, even if one or both of the friends are married.
… What do we mean when we talk about male-female or cross-sex friendships? In The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis says that friendship has to be about something — that it’s a posture of two or more people standing side by side, discussing a truth they see in common. Lovers, by contrast, stand face to face and focus more on each other.
As even this simple word picture conveys, a lover-type, face-to-face relationship doesn’t leave much room for others. But a side-by-side friendship easily expands from two to several people. In fact, small groups of friends often share richer conversations than only two could.
… Arguments over male-female friendship rarely involve such a dynamic, however.
… Rather than the sense of attraction that underlies Fincher’s description, I would suggest that most sibling relationships are distinguished by:
Deep loyalty rooted in a shared, unchangeable identity;
Freedom to be ourselves without fear of rejection (for better or worse);
Rich shared history, often including a deep understanding of each other’s sense of humor and similar, though perhaps unspoken, expectations of relational norms;
Concern for their well-being, including relationships and achievement of their God-given potential;
Commitment to maintaining a relationship, no matter the roadblocks that schedules, geography, or personal change may throw in the way
That last quality may constitute the most important feature of sibling relationships. It may also explain why so many male-female “friendships” tend to become a form of emotional dating.
I first began pondering (Link): the nature of male-female friendship almost a decade ago, when an emotionally intimate friendship I hoped would become more did not. (I’ve had several of those in almost two decades as a single adult.) Looking back, I realize that more than romance, marriage, or even sex, I wanted to be in community with those men. I liked interacting with them. I liked who they sometimes enabled me to be. I didn’t want to lose that.
… In a recent conversation about this with two friends who’ve been married almost a decade, they noted that marriage fosters an expectation of being completely known and understood by another person. Because marriage imperfectly satisfies our desire for such relationship, my friends said it often sets you up for disappointment. But in friendship, you don’t tend to expect as much, so you’re disappointed less.
Too often, I fear, we enter ambiguous, intimate male-female friendships unconsciously hoping to get many of the benefits of a committed relationship without the deep hurt that marriage and siblings alike can cause. But that’s a false kind of community.
.. For much of my life, I thought only marriage could provide the sort of committed relationship I’ve always longed for. But recently I’ve realized that the local church also involves committed relationships. In fact, it may be the very best source of community because it’s sustained not just by each individual’s commitment to God, but ultimately by God’s commitment to us.
You will have to click the link at the start of this blog post to read the rest of her article.
I am so sick and tired of Christians being like secular culture and assuming a man and woman will always end up having sex just because they become friends or spend time alone. Singles have a need for companionship, but if the church keeps teaching that married couples and all men should NOT befriend or hang out with single females, this means a lot of single females will be very lonely.
(Link): Jesus Christ was not afraid to meet alone with known Prostitutes / Steven Furtick and Elevation Church Perpetuating Anti Singles Bias – ie, Single Women are Supposedly Sexual Temptresses, All Males Can’t Control Their Sex Drives – (but this view conflicts with evangelical propaganda that married sex is great and frequent)
(Link): How the Sexual Revolution Ruined Friendship – Also: If Christians Truly Believed in Celibacy and Virginity, they would stop adhering to certain sexual and gender stereotypes that work against both