So, I was asked by a brother in a Christian men’s only group to put together some thoughts on opposite sex friendships and I should warn you all that my wife and my opinions are ours and they work for us. I’m already quite familiar with evangelical wisdom on this and disagree with it when offered from a perspective of “all men should disengage from these friendships” or whatever. I will not tell you what to do or how to behave. I will tell you what works for me and my bride of 16 and a half years.
I will start off by saying that it is my perspective that women are not the opposite sex. They are the “other” or “different” sex, but they are not “opposite”. This perspective comes as a result of my reading Scripture as well as texts on social psychology.
First off, Jesus had some dear friends that were women. Sure, #becausesinless. But… when He left this world the first time, He asked some of his buddies to take good care of these special women. They were not sinless, but He trusted these gals to the care of these knuckleheads. Yes, He TRUSTED them. Does He not trust US to care for the women in our lives, particularly those who know Him as well?
Secondly, women were, in those times, seen as lesser. Until He made it a point that they were deserving of the entire Gospel. Much of the wisdom of the seduction of women was not said by Christ, but in the Old Testament before the fulfillment of the Law came through Him. Even Paul’s exhortations about women speaking in church, etc, were due to Paul’s audience being predominantly Jewish. Yes, I take a more egalitarian stance now – in the name of freedom.
Thirdly, it is the Old Testament that says that the heart of man is deceitfully wicked, but Christ Himself says we have good and noble hearts. Do you trust Him at His word? I do. Therefore, though I have fallen before, I can trust myself (as He trusts me – and Him through me) with regard to my wife, my children, and others.
One of my dear friends is a woman my age. We have known each other since we were 8. She and my wife have met – twice actually. She is an attractive woman at a petite 5′ or so, probably about 130#. Got some cute ink and nose stud and freckles. Even a nickname of “Pixie” by me.
Well, her ex-husband is doing time for distribution of child pornography – torrents. 25-49 years and then lifetime parole. She was already divorced from him when he was arrested. He was a jerk and controlling and had his own issues. Anyway, a few years ago, her family completed dropped the ball on Memorial Day weekend and the kids were with their father. I mentioned that to my bride who said, “I like her. She has nothing to do. She and I both like wine. Invite her up.”
Me: she won’t be able to leave after drinking wine and dining on steak (because that’s what we do).
Beloved: no, she can spend the night. Before you look at me like I’m crazy, you’ve never given me any reason to distrust you.
So, I extended the invitation. She couldn’t make it, but the trust was and is important to both of us.
She has her Facebook and email and I have mine. We do not share passwords, although she knows my phone password and ipad password. And my laptop is always logged in – she knows that password as well. I can also get to her ipad as well. Not a problem. And so far she and I have never taken advantage of each other’s electronics and “hacked” (although, it really isn’t hacking when the password is already entered) them. That breeds distrust and betrayal.
One of my groomsmen dated her before we met. And I knew that before I told her I wanted him to be in the wedding.
I have been surrounded for periods of time in my life by men and women who believe that are certain rules I have to follow that I just can’t find in the Bible. Anywhere. I hear from and trust the Holy Spirit to speak to me about, well, a lot of things, including my marriage. I am also a counselor, and He speaks to me there, too. I have counseled men and women as young as 17 and as old as 60.
And I learn a great deal from clients. It is simply knowing that these stories of deep brokenness exist (even without knowing them specifically) that the Spirit allows me to see the imago Dei in others. And, if you asked my bride, why she encourages me in doing what I do. Saving lives and seeing hearts healed.
Do I think that anyone can do what I do and in the same way I do it? No. Do I think it is wise to enter into just any old friendship with a woman? No. I do think it is wise to test the spirits and personal motivations – and to make sure that my own vineyard is fox-free before doing so.
How do you tend your own vineyard?