christians and cross-gender friendships


One of the things of american christianity, which sometimes get copied in this part of europe but seems totally alien to me, is the way some people seem affraid of the other sex, and use theology to justify that.

Now, I do know some people just can’t get along with the other sex. In working class circles I noticed that there sometimes was a really large gap between the sexes that I could not understood, but I always noticed that such a disconnection was almost always paired to a porn-like objectification of the female. which is very evident: the more you treat female humans as sex objects, the less you will relate to them as human beings that you can be friends with… So I’m not that surprised when that kind of men would tell me that it’s impossible for them to be just friends with a woman. It is a deep and grave wound in their sexual human-ness, but totally understand, even though it’s sad and evil and it does no goed for man neither woman and brings lots of hurt to both…

But I’ve always seen Christianity as something which goes beyond that, something which bridges the gap between the sexes (‘in Christ there is male nor female’…) and cures the disconnections bethween people. But some people seem to totally disagree with that. I know some ‘true love waits’ type of people disapprove of being alone with the other sex at all, just like some ministries have rules for pastors to never be alone with someone of the other sex. Like this one from saddleback church. For reasons of temptation or reputation if you’d be seen with someone and stuff… But all of this looks so cramped in my eyes….

My whole life is opposed to that anyway, I am the kind of guy who sometimes makes friends with girls more easily than with other guys, even though the girls I like to be friends with are not the type of girl I would be romantically interested in. (Except for one interesting exception, who is now my wife…) I like to be friends with girls and women, and nothing of that did substantially change when I passed from celibate singleness into a relationshop into marriage, au contraire: she likes about me that I see girls and women as humans to be friends with, and not just sexuals things that could tempt me or that I could sexual fantasies about or something like that. Yike! Women are people to be friends with, and sisters in Christ.

In the end, doesn’t common sense and basic ethics tell us that we should consider every woman as a sister, mother, or daughter, depending on age? Or am I too naieve in thinking such things are a matter or logic? maybe I am. Maybe the disconnect is rooted too deep in our societies, and it may be growing with the explosion of porn and R&B-videos…

But still: that has nothing to do with Jesus And reading through the bible I see Jesus also acting against all that cross-gender paranoia. Jesus breaks all taboos when talkin (alone!) to the samaritan woman at the well: a rabbi doesn’t speak to women, and a jew doens’t speak to a samaritan, and one does not speak to people with the sexual history she has when one wants te be respected. That kind of logic is what I recognise in the Saddleback story, but it’s exactly what Jesus opposes.

Besides, I find it sexist and degrading, the idea that being with someone from the other sex should be considered unsafe. Very insulting even if I would be a woman offering to drive some speaker to somewhere, and he would refuse for that reason. Even autistic maybe. But totally unchristlike. Indeed Christ would not be hired at all in such ministry with the attitude he had towards women, if we look at the samaritan woman, and his friendship with Maria and Martha…

I still don’t get the christian intersexual disconnect, it is totally alien to me, and every time I read things suggesting that it is a controversial subject, like this zoecarnate blog-post, I am amazed again.

May we all learn to love…

shalom

Bram

ps:  for people interested in the subject, I do recommend the blog of Dan Brennan, who writes a lot about cross-gender friendships and related subjects from a somewhat post-evangelical perspective…

3 responses to “christians and cross-gender friendships

  1. I think that friendship between the sexes is a powerful and fantastic thing. Here’s a thought though. When people get married, they become “one flesh”. If half of your flesh is having emotional exclusivity with someone of the opposite sex, how is that bound to affect the other person? I speak not as a critic of the book but as someone trying to strengthen my own relationship in a way that wont make the other person jealous or hurt.

    What I’ve come up with(after years of researching and interviews) is that men and women within a committed relationship CAN and SHOULD have and want to have friendships with those of the opposite sex. The only thing is that these friendships must include the other person in some way(some very obvious way), otherwise the emotional exclusivity of the relationship will hurt the other person.

    We take a look a look at this in kind of a joking manner on our blog and book, but we really do believe that men and women can have great platonic relationships within a committed relationship… we just need to understand and respect that men and women are wired to have deep intimate love with that one special person(think of all the movies that focus on this quest!… and not the quest to find a great friend of the opposite gender!) and to always keep that person in mind first and foremost(they are our own flesh after all).

    Just some thoughts : ) Check out our blog if you’re curious to learn more. We really want to get to the bottom of all this!

  2. Pingback: Nothing more natural than cross-gender friendships? | Brambonius' blog in english

  3. Pingback: Some thoughts on the myth that ‘men are visual’ | Brambonius' blog in english

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