Fox-Free.

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?

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This entry was posted in Friendships, Ponderings, Purpose, Reflections. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Fox-Free.

  1. I think this is interesting. My husband has a couple female friends that he’s had before we met that I think are great. I also have a few male friends that I had before we met. However, now that we’re married I wouldn’t be comfortable with a new female friend that he was just “his friend.” We have mutual friends of both sexes. If he had a new “female friend” I would not be okay with it, even though I trust him. We definitely live in a culture obsessed with sex and where people will throw their bodies after those who are married. And even with the best intentions, bad things happen often. Not to mention the fact that we should avoid looking like we’re in sin. The parable talks about good soil in hearing the Word and believing it. That doesn’t make us sinless, because not one person is not guilty. The “traditional” and “popular” teaching that it’s unwise to make friends of the opposite (or different) sex when you’re married is wisdom. In your story, your wife said it was okay if she stayed and your wife was going to be there. That’s different than any one-on-one relationship outside of her with another woman. I’m not disagreeing with you in general. Life and relationships look different for everyone, but the heart is easily deceived and we fall into traps, which is why we’re told to be prepared and to wear God’s armor. And it’s only through Him that we can withstand many obstacles. That was a much longer response than I’d planned. I’m done now though.

    • Roman Hokie says:

      I appreciate you stopping by. And the comment. You make a valid distinction between existing “other sex” friendships and new ones. Other than colleagues, I don’t think I have any new ones. There are a few that I have made, but with little depth or proximity or both so probably not threatening. Regardless, I’ve been told I’m pretty self aware and commonly self monitor. Not to say there will never be a temptation, but I can mitigate those risks if necessary. Exit plan for those relationships that tend to lean toward trouble.

      One former colleague in particular and I would like our dogs (both cockapoos) to meet. I would not even request it unless my bride is first on board. And I would defer to her opinion and discuss if necessary.

  2. Christiana says:

    My hubby and I have been married almost 20 years and this post describes us. I have total and complete trust in him and he has the same in me.

  3. I too, have male friends, and have one “new” since I’ve been married almost 15 years ago friend, professional friend. There’s nothing more than professionalism and friendship for both of us because we are both happily married. I see him once a year for a couple of days which are both very busy for us – other than that we talk about books and football. My husband has friends who are women too – and it’s never been a big deal.

    • Roman Hokie says:

      That’s awesome, Janeen. So often, people look differently at their spouses, looking for small annoyances, and compare to their friend of the other sex. May we never do that!

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