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?
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.