Tag Archives: cross-gender friendships

Nothing more natural than cross-gender friendships?


This post is part of the February Synchroblog “Cross Gender Friendships”. The list with the contributions , which I recommend you to read too, can  be found at the end of this post.

I am one of those calvin-and-susie-25895people whose mere existence can be a threat to some peoples worldview…

I really don’t get certain (sub)cultural taboos for example, and they actually are quite unnatural and illogical to me. One of them is the way American conservative people are offended by the word ‘shit’, but that might be for another time. Today it’s about the idea that ‘men and women can’t be friends’. This is something that seems to be a doctrine in certain Christian circles, but I’ve also encountered it in other places that were completely unchristlike, and actually have thought it  to be misogynist worldliness for a long time. And moreover, everything I know in my life points to the obvious fact that this is just nonsense…

If we skip the discussion about the segregation of the sexes that exists in certain Muslim context for example, and just look at the cultures I more or less align with, we still find enough examples. I remember as a teenager that I was watching a Flemish talkshow on the subject, and there were people for whom it was natural that such friendships were possible, but also some kind of weird loud working-class guy who said that it was impossible for men and women to be friend, with some reasoning about sex and gender roles and a lot of stuff I could not relate to. I think that was the first time I realised that some people had the idea that cross-gender friendships are impossible, or even harmful.

Maybe for some personality types it is harder, I don’t know, I suppose so. I also wonder if you’re used to watching women as lust objects it is harder to relate to them as friends… at least that was my explanation for the phenomenon that some people were unable to be friends with the other sex. I had noticed early enough (and seen it again and again) that the type of man who likes to boast about watching porn and make remarks about women passing by on the street was less likely to have ‘just’ friendships* with women (the sort of women they found attractive that is, they might be friends with the old lady behind the bar or so…)

The thing is that I was the kind of boy who always found it easier to make friends with girls than with boys. And there was no ‘hidden agenda’ for me, I’ve always tended to friend girls whose presence I liked, but to whom I did not have romantic attraction. (At that age I was too shy to friend girls I was in love with anyway, it made me uncomfortable and stuff. Poor me…) So anyone who ever tells me it’s impossible to have friends of the other sex is like someone telling a Martian that aliens don’t exist. Not in a million years it will ever be convincing unless you destroy my identity…

As a Christian teenager I  liked to hang out with girls more than with boys, and was friends with several of them, and never heard (or at least did not understand from what I heard) that it could be wrong. I heard a lot of stuff about relationships, but since I’ve been single until I was 21 or so, that stuff wasn’t relevant. what I did hear was that friendship was important in a relationship, and I never conceived that a friendship with a person of the other sex not leading to a romantic relationship or a marriage could ever be a problem…

Maybe I sometimes encountered stuff like stories of pastors who wouldn’t even be alone with a woman not their wife, or of the dangers of meeting other women alone if you had a relationship, but that did not apply to a single person who was not at all such an exotic thing as an American pastor… And to be honest, not much difference happened (except for a shift in priority) when I started a relationship, or even when I married.

Later when I was in my late twenties I saw some signs that it was actually a taboo, especially for married people, to have cross-gender friends. But I was actually married by that time, and both me and my wife still had good friends of the other sex, so I just found it weird, and couldn’t relate to the idea. Upon investigating the subject it turned out a lot of people would find my life and friendships unnatural and dangerous, or just not possible. (Americans seem to like to quote some movie about Harry and Sally on the subject, but I’ve never seen it, and I don believe in the cannonisation of Hollywood movies at all… I also find it quite nonsensical from the viewpoint that a lot of people are bisexual. Should they have no friends?)

But it became a subject that held my interest. I learned a lot about the subject from the blog of Dan Brennan, (and his excellent book sacresacredd unions, sacred passions) who did come from a point of view where he had to defend his positive views about cross-gender friendships all the time, which was not always as relevant to me, but he also laid out a beautiful history of cross-gender friendships, and a quite interesting positive theology of cross-gender friendships in the already-and-not-yet Kingdom of God.  He only confirmed my conviction that friendships are part of the command to love one another, and that this does not exclude people of the other gender.
(Something that’s quite obvious in the way Jesus relates to women in the gospels, sometimes completely contrary to the culture he lived in!)

So, what’s my conclusion: cross-gender friendships should be natural to those who followed Him who called us to love our neighbor as ourselves. It is part of the already and not yet of the inbreaking Kingdom of God in our world. I also think that learning to develop friendship-love towards the other sex is a very good antidote to the toxic tendency to  objectify women (and men!) in our society as sex-objects. My life and my faith would be poorer without them, and even my marriage would never have been what it is without what I’ve learned through cross-gender friendships.

shalom

Bram

The other synchroblog participants:
Chris Jefferies – Best of both
Jeremy Myers – Are Cross-Gender Friendships Possible
Lynne Tait – Little Boxes
Dan Brennan – Cross-Gender Friendship: Jesus and the Post-Romantic Age
Glenn Hager – Sluts and Horndogs
Jennifer Ellen – A Different Kind of Valentine
Alise Wright - What I get from my cross-gender friend
Liz Dyer – Cross-Gender Friendships and the Church
Paul Sims – Navigating the murky water of cross-gender friendships
Jonalyn Fincher – Why I Don’t Give out Sex like Gold Star Stickers
Amy Martin – Friendship: The most powerful force against patriarchy, sexism, and other misunderstands about people who happen to not be us, in this case, between men & women
Maria Kettleson Anderson- Myth and Reality: Cross-Gender Friendships
Bram Cools - Nothing More Natural Than Cross-Gender Friendships?
Hugo Schwyzer – Feelings Aren’t Facts: Living Out Friendship Between Men and Women
Marta Layton – True Friendship: Two Bodies, One Soul
Kathy Escobar – The Road To Equality Is Paved With Friendship
Karl Wheeler – Friends at First Sight

Doreen Mannion – Hetereosexual, Platonic Cross-Gender Friendships–Learning from Gay & Lesbian Christians
Jim Henderson – Jesus Had A Thing for Women and So Do I

Elizabeth Chapin – 50 Shades of Friendship



See also on this blog:

Jesus against the sexism of his time: Martha and Mary
On cross-gender friendships and Christians…
teenage flashback: I’m not flirting, but I might need a hug…
christians and cross-gender friendships
sexual dominoes vs the fruits of the Spirit
sacred unions, sacred passions (musical prelude)
sacred unions, sacred passions I: beyond the romantic myth
Sacred unions, sacred passions II: Freud and the irresistible sex drive
on sexy porn models and human dignity

* There is no such thing as ‘just’ friendship. A real friendship is a very valuable relationship that is not at all less valuable than a romantic relationship or a marriage. This expression just shows that our culture has a too low view of friendship!

Some interesting things elsewhere VII


It’s still the first 2 weeks of the school-year over here, which are utter chaos for me as a teacher of protestant religion in Flemish secondary schools, so not much has been happening on this blog. I left this SITE-list half finished at the end of August, so maybe it’s time to finish it and publish it before it loses all relevancy in this constantly changing world.

The random picture today is quite cute. Having small children makes one like cute pictures of fuzzy apes…

Ray Hollenbach on how Jesus welcomes sinners at His table. Who do we welcome at our table?

Morgan Guyton actually has written a lot of posts that are worth reading since my last SITE-list. This one is about submission and leadership.

Thank you Lord for hearing me @ godspace.

2 interesting posts by Jonalyn on soulation. One about egalitarian marriages and one about friendships between men ans women. I still don’t have no idea who the mentioned Sally and Harry are, and I don’t think they’d interest me…

Roger Olson on the problems with John Pipers view of Gods sovereignity and sin.

Busyness as moral lazyness on internetmonk

An orthodox approach to sacrifice and atonement (I guess you all know I find those things very interesting)

Andrew Jones of Tall skinny Kiwi on homeschooling with the whole planet as a home… I wish I could go to all those places to learn those things…

shalom

Bram

sexual dominoes vs the fruits of the Spirit


(Now that’s a name for a first blog post of the new year, isn’t it?)

I was reading a blog post by Dan Brennan[1] about ‘sexual dominoes’, which got me thinking about how much we actually believe the bible and take it serious as a basis for our lives as evangelical christians, as we’d claim we do when someone would ask us.

So what are ‘sexual dominoes’? The article by Josh Hunt Dan refers to is a good example. It basicly boils down to the good old ‘slippery slope’ argument applied to the fear of having a affair: all affairs start innocently and then instantly progress like the collective pieces in the domino game. Once one tips over one tile, all the rest of the tiles follow suit. Don’t come near to other women as a man, it is dangerous and flirting with infidelity. A quote from the Josh Hunt article will make it more clear how far this kind of thinking goes:

I’d invite you to make it a part of the culture at your church: around here. . .

  • We don’t share a meal with another woman
  • We don’t get in the care with another woman
  • We don’t counsel another woman
  • We don’t talk about anything personal with another woman.
  • We are never alone with another women ever for any reason.

You will be glad you did. So will your kids, your church, your friends and your God.

Impractical as such a thing is in most working contexts, it is probably is possible for a pastor… And it’s nothing new, Billy Graham had policies like this, and Rick Warren still has. The idea is that one can’t be careful enough… So apparently we are not capable of self-control, and just should avoid any situation in which we **could** be able to sin with someone of the other sex. Nevermind that such way of thinking is devaluating the person of the other sex to just a ‘temptation’, supposing the worst of them. Nevermind that our big example Jesus, who was even unmarried, broke all this kind of unwritten laws and taboos (which were really strong in his culture) with the Samaritan woman at the well, and probably with Mary and Martha too… which is an important subversion of all these kinds of thinking, but not what I was planning to write about… Maybe later…

But then I got thinking about self-control. The pop-Freudianism which gave us this framework might not believe in it, but what about us Christians. Shouldn’t the word ‘self-control’ automaticly ring a bell -and especially for me as a charismatic Christian-? Do we or do we not actually believe in the fruits of the Spirit?

Gal 5:22-25 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ45 have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also behave in accordance with the Spirit.

Back to my question: Do we really take the bible seriously as evangelical Christians? Do we actually want the Spirit to transform us according to the fruits of the Spirit? Do we really want to follow Jesus’ example, and the law of love for our fellow human, regardless of their sex? Or do we follow the wisdom of pop-freudianism, which makes us unable to have any unsuspect relationship in the end.

And yes, we should be realistic, and not go there where we know we will be tempted beyond what we can handle. But that does not mean that we as Christians in any way can agree with the worldly way of thought that devaluates humans, created in the image of God, to either dangerous tempting sexy creatures or lust-controlled animals who cannot resist them. This is a very unchristian way of thinking, which goes against all Jesus stood for, against the whole Spirit of the New Testament! (It might be compatible with some muslim thought though) We should love our neigbor as ourselves, regardless of sex, and to really love someone will never go together with sexually abusing them (in real life or in thought). A good cross-gender friendship is a much better way to learn how to cope with the other sex than any kind of segregation tactics can ever be…

When will we really believe in the power of the Spirit, in the seriousness of the first law of love? When will we follow the example of Christ and love our fellow human, regardless of sex, income, social class, color of skin,… De we really believe that in Christ there is no male or female, no jew nor greek?

Or are we more inclined to believe the theories of this world? Pop-psychology, freudian reductionism, etc… If that is the case, we better stop using words like ‘evangelical’ or ‘biblical’. There’s nothing biblical at all about this. It’s just fear, and disbelief in the words of Jesus and Paul, in the Love of Christ in us, and in the Image of God that we all share.

Is it true that perfect love drives out all fear, like the bible says? do we really believe such things?

Let there be more of You, Lord
and less of our silliness,
More Holy Spirit and less ZeitGeist
so that Your Kingdom come
and Your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven

Shalom

Bram

[1] Author of the much-needed book ‘sacred unions, sacred passions‘, about Christians and cross-gender friendships.

sacred unions, sacred passions (musical prelude)


I’m going to blog about Dan Brennans higly recommended book ‘sacred unions, sacred passions‘, a book which I think is needed in soms Christian circles. But before we go to the book i’ll start with a song that I once made, about how I felt when I was a lot younger and a bit lonely. My apologies for those who don’t like lo-fi music… (and yes I know it is weird and slightly out of tune and will never make the charts, but I do happen to like this kind of music)

(yes the video is not that much…)

That’s how I felt, lonely and stuck on the wrong planet and hopelessly trying to get attention. I may have even instinctively tried to flirt on occasion, in my own clumsy way, but the last thing I would’ve been interested in would’ve been sex. The dark part of me filled with stupid sexual teenage fantasies was just so shallow that it ceased to exist when there were real persons around and I hated that part anyway. All I needed was love in the form of friendship; sex would just have destroyed me and everything I wanted and needed. But friendly love  was something I needed. And there were periods when I easier connected with girls than with my own sex.

Maybe the female friends that I had (and still have) in a way were in part a replacement for the romantic absense in my life, but also they were the sisters I never had. It’s not that the reason I seeked the companion of girls was because I was longing for something that would end in a romantic and later sexual relationship. I tend to start friendships with girls I’d never fall in love with anyway. No, those girls were and are friends, and to add the word ‘just’ before that would be an insult to our relationship. A friendship is complete in itself, and being ‘just’ friends with a girl was all I needed at that moment.
I wouldn’t have been ready for a relationship anyway.

That was in my late teenage years and young twenties, but later there was a girl who became my best friend and even more, and then my sexuality got born again very slowly while we came closer in more dimensions than a friendship has… But my relationship with my wife was not something to replace any other friendship, only a new one, with more depth and a sharing of parts of me that had never been shared with anyone… But we both have good friends of the other sex, and our lives would be a lot poorer without them.

For a lot of people my age and younger there isn’t even a question about that kind of friendships, but for others (and especially some christians) it is unthinkable or risky and dangerous. Like you would guess, all I’ve experienced in my life does place me in the first category. I don’t need anything to justify myself, I just feel blessed with all my friends and I know God enjoys it. I never thought of it as subversive anywey before I got into discussions with some people… And I still believe that this kind of ‘friendly love’ can overcome sexual brokenness and hurt about the other sex in peoples lives, if we open ourselves up for it…

So I’m glad that someone has written a book about the subject from a christian perspective… Thanks Dan

Next time I’ll highlight some insights the book has to offer that are really important for us to consider!

shalom

Bram

A call to subversive Love!!!


hi readers

I will start with a quote from Zack’s response to my last post on cross-gender friendshios (which is worth reading, giving a good explanation of the things I was talking about, from the perception of the culture he was born into):

We don’t often find Jesus bending over backwards to not offend His culture. On the contrary, He went against the grain precisely to demonstrate how backwards their culture was, and to reveal to them what God’s love looks like in society.

That’s the context in which I would place the whole subject of cross-gender friendships, but this topic of subversive love is so much broader that this, and it must have a central place in our Christian life if we want it to make any sense at all. Jesus, Paul and the early Christianity did not only summarise the whole law in the ‘Love God above all and you neigbor as yourself’, but they also lived that way, which was not just a choice, but also an orientation, and a lifestyle, a transformation, a whole new way of being and relating to the world.

So when we look again at the story of the woman at the well (see john 4), we clearly see this revolutionary way of lovingly relating at work. No jewish rabbi at that time would ever even think about being seen with a woman of questionable reputation, even if she wouldn’t have been samaritan. There was a great segregation of the sexes, and a looking down on sinners, and the way Jews reacted to samaritans would be considered racist by todays standards. But against all those cultural taboos, Jesus just talked to her, in a friendly and egalitarian way. No matter how we try, we will not realise how subversive and not done such a thing was. And we are called to follow Jesus and do likewise as He did.

The well-meaning intentions of people who are abstaining from stuff like being seen with people of the other sex or sinners or other wrong company might stem from an honest trying to do good, but it’s far away from Jesus’ teachings and example. And it may be much closer to the one kind of people Jesus always rebuked: the religious elite of his time, like the pharisees and sadducees. He was the one who hung out with sinners and the pariahs of his age, with litteral lepers and traitors of Gods chosen people. We are not called to carefully watch our reputation, we are called to embody christs love, and we are called blessed when we are persecuted for that (see the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5)

In our christian communities we should be one, without distinctions based on race, gender, age, musical preference or social class. Neither greek or Jew, male or female as St-Paul calls it. The first christians lived that way, and so did countless other christian communities in all kinds of situations in the last 2000 years, from old to new monastics, from anabaptists to Jesus people communes. And those communities were not only focussed to keep thier love inwards, but also to sharing it with the world, with hospitality, generosity, charity.

A comment here is that, while I do believe that we have to contextualise the gospel and translate it into each culture we are in ourselves, we do not have to let the culture and it’s definitions and taboos, or even definitions alter the gospel. Au contraire, we should let the gospel transform the culture, just as we need to be transformed ourselves! We come as we are, but no way that we will stay as we are, otherwise our good news does not make any sense at all…

And this may come down to something you could call christian anarchism, or better Love-archy. We don’t listen to then written or unwritten rules that try to put boundaries on our love, just like Jesus who talked with the woman at the well as if it wasn’t special at all to do such a thing…

And I know that I fall short in any way. Both in my personal life and in communal life with my brothers and sisters in christ, and I want to repent of that. I don’t want to see the prayer of st-Francis as inspirational but faraway from my daily life. I don’t want 1 Cor 13 and verses like ‘perfect love drives out all fear’ to be hypothetical theory, but I want to learn how to live them.

This is my new motto for my life:

I want to learn how to love, the rest are details.

will you guide me, Spirit of love?

will you join me, my brothers and sisters?

will you be my all, Christ?

shalom

Bram


ps, for some inspiration go look at the revolt collective or read shane Claiborne’s book ‘the irresistible revolution’. Or look at those countless hero’s and examples that we have in the history of our faith who lived a life of subversive love. We are surrounded by a witness cloud!!

On cross-gender friendships and christians…


hi readers;

Sometimes I am amazed how some things, while they are totally non-issues to me, can be such big issues to others. I suppose that this statement may mean that I’m just an unworldly weirdo, but the only perspective I can speak of is just mine. So if I’m not convincing in my arguments, listen to me as a native of another world… One of those issues, and the topic for this post today is that of cross-gender friendships, non-romantic friendly relationships between men and women or boys and girls. Everything I know and have experienced says that this is not only possible, but also good and healthy, and something we as Christians should offer to this lost and broken world. But yet some people live in a world where the opposite truth is proclaimed and lived and even institutionalised, and to my big surprise and frustration a lot of them appear to be christians.

Currently I’m waiting for a very interesting book to arrive in my mailbox: Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions: Engaging the Mystery of Friendship Between Men and Women” by Dan Brennan. I’m glad to finally see a book like this on the Christian market. I will definitely be writing more about it when I have read it. I think it’s a very important subject, when we talk about love and following Jesus and overcoming the brokenness of this world in our own life.

But some christians do think differently. They are affraid to be seen with a member of the opposite sex, because ‘people might think something’. They are affraid to be alone with a woman that’s not their wife, and will refuse to be wlone with a woman in an elevator or a car. There probably are good explanations for all this stuff; but to me it’s as alien as a little green man mith antennas flying a saucer-like vehicle… And not very Christlike. and very sexist, and mostly I’m just shocked by hearing about such things.

It has always been a total non-issue for me… And for most of my friends, who were mostly somewhere between students, artistic/hippy and middleclass people. Maybe it’s me who has always connected with like-minded people, but I’ve hardly ever seen male-female friendship considered a problem for people people my age and younger (I’m turning 30 in october) And yes, I’m the kind of guy who tens to friend girls more easily than guys… Mostly even girls that I would never have a relationship with. I Have always been this way, and getting married didn’t change much in that area. My wife is my best friend, and we both do have friends of the opposite sex, and it would be very strange in a world where such a thing would not be possible. And it would be a stupid world and not much fun.

But I know it’s not the same for everybody. It was a big clash for me when I worked with working class people,  the way the sexes were segregated. There were indeed guys for whom it would be unthinkable to be friends with a woman, or even true to look at a women that where even the least bit attractive without thinking about having sex with her. Some of these guys were so porn-minded and women-unfriendly. Men who were hurting and hurt by women because of this big division and misunderstanding between the sexes, and I think it must have been the same at the other side of the great divide with the females… I only saw hurt and brokenness and nothing I would ever want in my own life or the life of anyone I love. Nobody should be so sexually fucked-up, broken and disconnected and there are big groups of people for whom this seems to be the norm. (This is not meant to be judgenmental on working class people, it only was in such an environment that I encountered this. But there also are lots of sexually fucked-up and disconnected people who are middle class or higher class, and there are fanstastic loving people in the working class)

So… This kind of disconnect between man and woman is not very healthy… And the christian version to me seemed to come out of a similar worldview, with a reduction of the opposite sex (mostly the female from a male perspective) to merely an object of sexual desire in the first place. And this alone is a big evil that hurts and destroys people and makes a lot of money in our entertainment and advertisement industry. But no woman on this planet (even if they themselves are hurt so bad that they can only believe it that way) is just a body a man can have sex with. Even sexy lingery models on a billboard are persons like us. Just think about this the next time you see one of these billboards… Think about this girl, her hopes and dreams, and how heartbroken and hurt she might be.

The answer to this is not to run away from every woman we see that is not our own wife. The answer is to see and appreciate women as the persons that they are. I would think that for a Christian such a thing is 100% logical, but how naieve can I be sometimes…

Jesus was a very cool example for me. His talk with the woman at the well crosses all this kind of taboos and barriers like they existed in his culture. So why don’t we break loose of this nonsense? We are called to love. Friendship is a form of love.

Like I’ve said at the beginning of this piece, some people live in the opposite world, where heakthy cross-gender friendships are taboo, unhealthy, dangerous and a very subversive idea. It might be like a self-fulfilling prophecy, and if that’s the case, I choose the side of love, the side of friendship, and the example of Jesus, even if it would be against the whole world, to love every woman as my sister, mother or daughter…

Isn’t that just basic for us followers of Jesus?

shalom

Bram

ps: there is more that can be said about this subject. I hope to blog more on this when I’ve recieved and read Dan Brennan’s book.

Jesus against the sexism of his time: Martha and Mary


Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:38-42)

Two things here are remarkable that we can learn from in the light of the whole sexism-discusion.

* The complete denial of the traditional man and woman roles of the Jewish society: There were strong roles for man and woman in Jesus’ world. It was expected from a woman to take care of the household, like Martha did. That was the normal order. It was also not expected for a woman to become disciple and learn at a rabbi’s feet, which is what Mary did. What she did was against the whole sex segregation of the jewish community: Rabbis didn’t talk with women. Jesus reverses all stereotypes, and praises the odd behaviour of the femminist-avant-la-lettre Mary who sat at her feet to learn from him. which must have been totallyb revolutionary for the people at the time…

*Also noteworthy is that the type of crosss-gender friendship that Jesus has with the 2 women (and with other women throughout the bible) Jesus treats women as every other human, unlike most of his contemporaries. This should also make us think…

shalom

Bram

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…