Abortion, Forgiveness, Relationships

Throwback Thursday on Friday ~ Aborting People

Originally posted July 24, 2014Aborting People

Cut the negative people out of your life.

Don’t lift a finger for people who won’t lift a finger for you.

Don’t allow people in your life who don’t deserve to be there.

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Hardly a day goes by that I don’t see something like this on Facebook. Clearly, there are people who are violent that we need to stay away from for our own physical safety, and marital problems absolutely must be resolved, but those aren’t what this line of thinking seems to be addressing. It’s talking about the difficult people. We all have them in our lives. You’re probably thinking of some right now.

The constant complainer.

The drama queen.

The narcissist.

The annoyance.

The just plain unlovely.

Maybe it’s a family member, a neighbor, or a co-worker. Somebody who’s in your life for some reason, only you wish she weren’t.

The world’s advice: abort people. If they’re negative, if they don’t further your success, if they drain you, if they’re somehow undeserving of your time and attention. Just cut them out of your life. Abort them.

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Christians are on the front lines of the battle against literal abortion. “Every life is precious,” we say, and that’s as it should be. But somehow, the world’s abortive mentality has crept into our thinking when it comes to the relationships we have with others. Babies are being killed because they’re inconvenient, they’ll hinder someone’s pursuit of success, or they have a disability, and we’re – rightly – grieved and outraged, but do we have any pangs of conscience when it comes to throwing away that inconvenient friend or that personality-handicapped family member? Is every life really precious?

We serve a Savior who loved the unlovely. Took time for the inconvenient. Invested in the drains. He felt their loneliness and rejection and knew the pain of being scorned.

Because He was one of them.

he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Isaiah 53:2b-3

Jesus stopped along the roadside, not for those who would further His success, but for those who were needy. He called the awkward and personality impaired “brother.” He called a betrayer, “friend.” Even those who wielded the whip, embedded the thorns, and drove the nails didn’t hear, “Go to hell,” but, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Yes, there are people who are so difficult that we may have to love them from afar, taking time between each encounter with them to pray, recover, and forgive.

But we must remember who we were called to be.

I love, not because people deserve it, but because He first loved me.

I am forgiving because I have been forgiven much.

I am kind because God has been so kind to me.

I lay down my life for messy people because Christ laid down His life for the biggest mess of all- me. 

Extend grace. Because in God’s eyes, every life is precious. Even yours.

Relationships

Throwback Thursday ~ How Can We Be Friends? 4 Biblical and Practical Considerations for Co-Ed Christian Friendships

Originally published July 13, 2018

Any time an issue regarding the roles and relationships between Christian men and women comes up, there’s bound to be an airing of opinions. Strong opinions. And the social media opinions du jour are about friendships between Christian men and women. What’s appropriate? What’s not? Can Christian men and women have genuinely platonic friendships? Twitter is currently all a-chirp over Aimee Byrd’s new book Why Can’t We Be Friends? which addresses…

…the way to stand against culture is not by allowing it to drive us apart—it is by seeking the brother-and-sister closeness we are privileged to have as Christians. Here is a plan for true, godly friendship between the sexes that embraces the family we truly are in Christ and serves as the exact witness the watching world needs.
P&R Publishing, About: Why Can’t We Be Friends by Aimee Byrd

I guess it’s just the way my brain is wired, but when I first heard about Aimee’s book, my initial reaction was along the lines of, “Oh. OK. Sounds interesting…Why do we need a book about this?”. It was the same kind of reaction I’d have if somebody came out with a book about humans needing to breathe air or fire being hot. Yeah. That’s a given. Brothers and sisters in Christ have been friends for upwards of 2000 years now. I don’t understand what else there is to say about that.

But the more I thought about it – the way people have lost their ever lovin’ minds about how to properly relate to, even talk to, one another – the more I thought maybe this book was a good idea. In a world where a man can’t even stand next to Beth Moore and be taller than her without being accused of misogyny, perhaps a remedial course on the most basic of human relationships is in order.

I haven’t read Aimee’s book, so this isn’t a critique or review of it (you can read a detailed review by Amy Mantravadi here), but I did listen to her interview about Why Can’t We Be Friends on Theology Gals, and I didn’t hear anything problematic in Aimee’s description of her perspective on the subject. From what I’ve heard and read, I probably wouldn’t agree with Aimee about every single thing in the book, but I have no reason to believe she is advancing any unbiblical ideas, and that Why Can’t We Be Friends will likely prove a helpful biblical resource for many. My advice: If you want to know what Aimee thinks and whether or not it’s biblical, read the book and compare it to rightly handled Scripture.

But as I continued to think about and read discussions about the issue – especially in light of words like “misogyny”, “sexism”, and “abuse” being bandied about in evangelicalism like so many badminton birdies – I started seeing some aspects of this topic I wanted to address. Why can’t Christian men and women be friends? How can we be friends? Are there any potential problems we need to anticipate? Here are four practical and biblical things to take into consideration as we contemplate friendships between the sexes.

1.
Defining Our Terms

One of the first whiffs of controversy I caught about Aimee’s book was a Christian gentleman’s emphatic no to the question of whether or not men and women could be friends. His reasoning? Co-ed friendships would inevitably lead to adultery. As the conversation progressed, comments were made by more than one man suggesting that the only female friend a man should have is his wife. Why? Because these gentlemen were defining friendship as a deeply emotionally intimate relationship- the kind of spiritually bonded relationship you should only have with your spouse.

Well, OK, if that’s the way you define friendship, you’re right. You shouldn’t have that kind of relationship with anyone of the opposite sex. Or the same sex either. That “oneness” kind of friendship is restricted to one person on the planet- your spouse. Defining friendship this way essentially restricts you to no friends until you get married, and one friend thereafter.

The thing is, that’s not how 99.999% of people define the word “friendship.” That’s how people define the word “spouse.” That’s why we have two different words – friend and spouse – because they denote two different types of relationships. Your spouse should certainly be your friend, but your friend doesn’t have to be your spouse.

The concept of friendship is much more fluid, and generally, more broadly defined than unhelpfully equating “friend” with “spouse”. There is a spectrum of intimacy with others that ranges from “I just met this person” on one end to “I’ve been blissfully married to this person for 80 years” on the other end, and all kinds of levels of affinity in between.

There’s the “hello at the mailbox, can I borrow your rake” neighbor whose last name you might not even know, casual acquaintances like store clerks and stylists whom you see occasionally and make perfunctory small talk with, regular acquaintances like co-workers and people you’re friendly with at church but don’t socialize with outside that venue, couples you and your spouse are friends with and spend time with, “shared interest” friends (Civil War buff buddies, gardening buddies, etc.), social media friends, good friends who share a very emotionally close, personal relationship, and then there’s your spouse.

All of those people can be classified, at one level or another, as “friends”. Maybe the question shouldn’t be “Can Christian men and women be friends?” but “Which levels of friendship are biblically appropriate for Christian men and women to engage in?”

2.
Talk About It

If you’re married, especially if there have ever been issues of infidelity or insecurity for either of you, it’s wise to talk out what you’re both comfortable with when it comes to friendships outside the marriage.

It should be a no-brainer that neither of you should have any friendships that even come close to the emotional intimacy, affection, energy, and time you expend with each other. That’s not usually much of a problem for men, but, ladies, what about that close relationship you have with your mother, your sister, or your dearest girl friend? When you get phenomenal news – or devastating news – who is the first person you want to run to and share it with? If it’s anybody other than your husband, that’s a signal that you’re probably too close to that friend and not close enough to your husband.

But beyond being first in each others’ lives, what would be helpful and godly in your marriage regarding opposite sex (or even same sex) friendships? How much time is too much time to spend with a friend? What about going places together, talking on the phone, exchanging e-mails or private messages on social media? Which of the aforementioned “levels” of friendship should be restricted to members of the same sex? Discuss what each of you are OK with and not OK with, and why, avoiding the appearance of evil, and be sure to discuss practical safeguards you can each take against temptation.

If you’re single, these things are just as important to consider. Pray about them, discern how God would have you prioritize your friendships, and the time and emotional intimacy He would have you invest in them. And in the same way you reserve sexual intimacy for marriage, determine to reserve your deepest emotional intimacy for marriage, should that be God’s plan for you, as well.

3.
Different Ways to Be Friends

I think one thing that people who give a staunch and unwavering “no” to friendships between men and women might not be taking into consideration is that a proper, biblical, platonic friendship between a man and a woman isn’t going to look like a proper, biblical, platonic friendship between two women or two men.

My good friend, Darlene, and I text back and forth all the time, private message each other on Facebook, go out to lunch, and spend hours talking one on one. We even went to a conference earlier this year, driving several hundred miles back and forth and rooming together once we got there.

I am also friends with Darlene’s husband. Do I spend as much time with him? Do I spend time with him the same way I spend time with Darlene? Of course not. I talk to him at church, at fellowships, when the four of us spend time together as couples, sometimes (publicly) on social media, and the once in a blue moon informational-type e-mail. The dynamic is totally different. First of all, I’m on a lower level of “friendship intimacy” with him than I am with Darlene. Second of all, it would appear – and would be – inappropriate for me to spend time with him in the same ways I do with Darlene. And, finally, I wouldn’t want to make Darlene or my own husband uncomfortable.

I’m friends with both Darlene and her husband, but I’m friends with each of them on different levels of intimacy and I’m friends with each of them in different ways. To maintain biblical decorum, and to guard our hearts against temptation, friendships between men and women are necessarily going to look different from same gender friendships in the ways we spend time together and how much time we spend together.

4.
Can You Handle It?

An interesting dynamic about this back and forth over whether or not men and women can be friends is that, at least in the conversations I observed, men were more likely to say no, and women were more likely to be the ones promoting the idea of friendship between the sexes and not seeing a problem with it.

Ladies, we don’t get to make the across-the-board pronouncement that co-ed friendships between Christians are fine just because it wouldn’t be problematic for us. Furthermore it should give us pause that good, godly men are saying, “No. There are concerning issues here.” We need to sit down and actually listen to what they’re saying as a group and as individuals.

God created men and women differently. We are wired for relationships differently. That doesn’t mean women are wired right and men are wired wrong and they just need to get over it. It means we approach relationships differently. God created those different approaches and they are both good.

And when our brothers in Christ are saying, “We can’t handle this kind of relationship with you the way you want us to,” we need to respect and value that input into the conversation as much as we respect and value the input from our side of the aisle.

When it comes to individual friendships between a particular man and woman, that same respect and value for what another person can or can’t handle also has to hold sway. Every person is different. There are men you could put into a room full of naked women and they’d be obliviously critiquing the way the painter spackled the walls. There are other men for whom lust is such a temptation that they would have difficulty carrying on a five-minute conversation with a moderately attractive woman. Women are the same way. We all have varying levels of temptation to physical or emotional lust.

Through study of the Word, prayer, and, if you’re married, a healthy relationship with your husband, know your own limitations. Walk circumspectly, wisely, and obediently to Christ. Respect your male friends and acquaintances, and give them the space they need. They are probably trying to walk obediently, too.

 

Can men and women be friends? Of course. It’s how to be friends with one another that we need to pursue with wisdom, love, respect, holiness, purity of heart, and biblical propriety.

Relationships, Sanctification

In Defense of Offense: Why Christians Need to Stop Worrying About Offending People

“You’re a liar,” he said dryly, the passion in his eyes gleaming through.

“What?!?! HOW DARE YOU call me a liar!” his fellow church member fumed.

“You’re a liar, Joe. You show up at church for an hour a week and claim to be a Christian, yet you’ve been living with your girlfriend for over a year, you’ve told me you use pornography, and I’ve talked to five different people with incontrovertible evidence that you’ve cheated in your business dealings with them. When you say you’re a Christian, you’re lying. Just admit it.”

Have you ever had a conversation like this with someone? Have you ever witnessed a conversation like this?

Most of us would never dream of calling someone a liar who claims to be a Christian yet walks in disobedience to Christ. Goodness, no! It might offend the person or cause her to question her salvation! She might leave the church or walk away from the faith!

You know who wouldn’t be afraid of offending such a person or causing her to doubt her salvation? Someone who would dream of calling a professed Christian walking in disobedience a liar?

The Holy Spirit – via the Apostle John – that’s who.

Whoever says “I know him [Jesus]” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he [Jesus] walked.
1 John 2:4-6

Take a moment and let that really sink in. People who claim to be Christians yet habitually and unrepentantly make a practice of sinning are not saved.

To the Holy Spirit and John that’s as plain and simple and uncontroversial as saying, “The sky is blue, and water’s wet.” But to a false convert, them’s fightin’ words.

And we know it.

So we refrain from lovingly speaking hard, biblical truths to people who need to hear them, usually for one of a handful of reasons:

• We don’t want this person’s wrath aimed at us because it’s a hassle or because we don’t want to lose the relationship with her.

• We don’t actually believe the Bible and trust God’s sovereignty. We’d rather lean on our own understanding, desperately clinging to the irrational hope that this person is truly a Christian who’s hanging by a thread, and we don’t want to be the one responsible for saying anything that might clip that thread.

• We’re worried about how we’ll look to others and that they’ll accuse us of being unloving, unchristlike, and harming the unity of the church.

What do those reasons have in common?

Me. Me me me me me me me.

I want to keep my relationship with this person in tact. I don’t want others to blame me for this person’s reaction to biblical truth or call me unloving or divisive. I don’t want to deal with the aggravation of this person’s emotional blow up.

It’s not exactly the greater love of laying down one’s life for a friend, is it? We’re not even willing to lay down our comfort or our reputation in order to tell someone her walk doesn’t match her talk and call her to repentance. Is that love at all, or is it just plain, old fashioned selfishness? We bow and scrape at the idol of not hurting other people’s feelings while those people careen down the road paved with our good intentions straight toward the gates of Hell. How is that love? 

Love is valuing, and acting on, what is best for another person over and above our own self interests. You know, kind of like Jesus did during His life, death, and resurrection:

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
1 John 3:16

You know, it’s interesting that the Holy Spirit speaks a lot of hard, “you’re not saved if…” truths in a book (1 John) whose purpose is to give true Christians assurance of their salvation. The Third Person of the Trinity – the embodiment of perfect love – doesn’t seem to think it’s unloving to tell false converts they aren’t saved, while at the same time reassuring young, shaky-kneed saints.

But us? We can’t seem to get our act together and do both from a heart of love the way the Holy Spirit does.

We’ve focused so much attention on reassuring anyone who claims the label “Christian” of their eternal security that we’ve lost sight of the fact that there are a great many false converts in our midst who should be questioning their salvation. The gate is wide that leads to destruction, Jesus said. It is the narrow gate that leads to life, and few are those who find it. Test yourself to see if you’re in the faith. How will they know these things if we don’t tell them?

The Bible has hard, sharp edges. It’s a sword, for crying out loud, not a feather duster. The primary purpose of a sword is to cut.

The gospel divides. Jesus – the creator of Christian unity – said, “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” Jesus – perfectly kind, perfectly loving Jesus – called those claiming to be God’s people yet walking in disobedience hypocrites, vipers, and sons of the Devil. Jesus – the Jesus who was more compassionately evangelistic than we could ever hope to be – didn’t beg, plead, or hand-wringingly water down Kingdom requirements so the rich young ruler would keep a toe in the door of God’s house. Jesus held high the standard of the gospel and let him walk away. Jesus wasn’t a nerdy little wimp offering people a cheap plastic heavenly trinket if they would only be His friend. This almighty King demanded perfection, the highest love, loyalty unto death. And, by the way, you’d better count the cost before deciding to follow Him. Jesus wasn’t worried about offending people with biblical truth.

We need to stop worrying that the Bible is going to offend people who need to be offended by its demands, requirements, and judgments so that they might repent and be reconciled to Christ. Whether it’s a sinner in need of a Savior or a saint in need of sanctification, the ministry of reconciliation Christ has called us to begins with confronting sin.

Every person we would potentially approach with biblical truth is either saved or lost.

If a person is genuinely one of Christ’s sheep, she will hear the voice of her Shepherd calling to her from the truths of His Word, turn from her sin, and follow Him. It may take time. It may take help. It may take teaching and many tears. But sheep love the Shepherd and follow Him. They grow toward Him, not away from Him.

If a person is lost, she isn’t going to get any “loster” when you biblically call her to repentance. Lost is lost, even if that lost person claims to be, or thinks she is, a Christian. There’s no such thing as a genuinely regenerated Christian who’s just barely hanging on to Jesus by her fingernails and you come along and push her out of the faith by confronting her sin with biblical truth. Uh uh. If she abandons Christ in favor of her sin, she was never saved in the first place, I don’t care what she claims to the contrary.

All of this nonsense floating around these days about “de-converting” from Christianity, or “I used to be a real, genuine, bona fide Christian, but I’m not anymore.” Hogwash and poppycock. The Bible says if you leave the body of Christ, you were never a member of it to begin with. That God is greater than all (including you) and no one (not even yourself) is able to snatch you out of His hand if you belong to Him. That those who are saved will endure to the end. That Jesus will not lose a single one of those the Father has entrusted to Him. Dare we believe the words of sinners about themselves over what the Word of God says about them? No matter what you say or do, you don’t have the power to be responsible for someone leaving the faith. Whatever circumstance or person they might use as a scapegoat, people “leave” Christianity because they don’t know or love Christ and they’ve gotten tired of pretending like they do.

The people we love enough to lovingly, yet firmly, speak hard biblical truths to are either Christians who will come to love and embrace those truths (and love us for caring enough to speak them), or they’re lost or false converts who need to be confronted with the mirror of God’s Word so they can face up to the fact that they’re lost. Where the Bible speaks plainly and definitively, we must not be ashamed of the gospel and shrink from speaking plainly and definitively in agreement with it.

Stop being afraid of offending people by speaking hard, biblical truths. Sometimes the most loving thing you can do for someone is offend her.

Relationships

How Can We Be Friends? 4 Biblical and Practical Considerations for Co-Ed Christian Friendships

Any time an issue regarding the roles and relationships between Christian men and women comes up, there’s bound to be an airing of opinions. Strong opinions. And the social media opinions du jour are about friendships between Christian men and women. What’s appropriate? What’s not? Can Christian men and women have genuinely platonic friendships? Twitter is currently all a-chirp over Aimee Byrd’s new book Why Can’t We Be Friends? which addresses…

…the way to stand against culture is not by allowing it to drive us apart—it is by seeking the brother-and-sister closeness we are privileged to have as Christians. Here is a plan for true, godly friendship between the sexes that embraces the family we truly are in Christ and serves as the exact witness the watching world needs.
P&R Publishing, About: Why Can’t We Be Friends by Aimee Byrd

I guess it’s just the way my brain is wired, but when I first heard about Aimee’s book, my initial reaction was along the lines of, “Oh. OK. Sounds interesting…Why do we need a book about this?”. It was the same kind of reaction I’d have if somebody came out with a book about humans needing to breathe air or fire being hot. Yeah. That’s a given. Brothers and sisters in Christ have been friends for upwards of 2000 years now. I don’t understand what else there is to say about that.

But the more I thought about it – the way people have lost their ever lovin’ minds about how to properly relate to, even talk to, one another – the more I thought maybe this book was a good idea. In a world where a man can’t even stand next to Beth Moore and be taller than her without being accused of misogyny, perhaps a remedial course on the most basic of human relationships is in order.

I haven’t read Aimee’s book, so this isn’t a critique or review of it (you can read a detailed review by Amy Mantravadi here), but I did listen to her interview about Why Can’t We Be Friends on Theology Gals, and I didn’t hear anything problematic in Aimee’s description of her perspective on the subject. From what I’ve heard and read, I probably wouldn’t agree with Aimee about every single thing in the book, but I have no reason to believe she is advancing any unbiblical ideas, and that Why Can’t We Be Friends will likely prove a helpful biblical resource for many. My advice: If you want to know what Aimee thinks and whether or not it’s biblical, read the book and compare it to rightly handled Scripture.

But as I continued to think about and read discussions about the issue – especially in light of words like “misogyny”, “sexism”, and “abuse” being bandied about in evangelicalism like so many badminton birdies – I started seeing some aspects of this topic I wanted to address. Why can’t Christian men and women be friends? How can we be friends? Are there any potential problems we need to anticipate? Here are four practical and biblical things to take into consideration as we contemplate friendships between the sexes.

1.
Defining Our Terms

One of the first whiffs of controversy I caught about Aimee’s book was a Christian gentleman’s emphatic no to the question of whether or not men and women could be friends. His reasoning? Co-ed friendships would inevitably lead to adultery. As the conversation progressed, comments were made by more than one man suggesting that the only female friend a man should have is his wife. Why? Because these gentlemen were defining friendship as a deeply emotionally intimate relationship- the kind of spiritually bonded relationship you should only have with your spouse.

Well, OK, if that’s the way you define friendship, you’re right. You shouldn’t have that kind of relationship with anyone of the opposite sex. Or the same sex either. That “oneness” kind of friendship is restricted to one person on the planet- your spouse. Defining friendship this way essentially restricts you to no friends until you get married, and one friend thereafter.

The thing is, that’s not how 99.999% of people define the word “friendship.” That’s how people define the word “spouse.” That’s why we have two different words – friend and spouse – because they denote two different types of relationships. Your spouse should certainly be your friend, but your friend doesn’t have to be your spouse.

The concept of friendship is much more fluid, and generally, more broadly defined than unhelpfully equating “friend” with “spouse”. There is a spectrum of intimacy with others that ranges from “I just met this person” on one end to “I’ve been blissfully married to this person for 80 years” on the other end, and all kinds of levels of affinity in between.

There’s the “hello at the mailbox, can I borrow your rake” neighbor whose last name you might not even know, casual acquaintances like store clerks and stylists whom you see occasionally and make perfunctory small talk with, regular acquaintances like co-workers and people you’re friendly with at church but don’t socialize with outside that venue, couples you and your spouse are friends with and spend time with, “shared interest” friends (Civil War buff buddies, gardening buddies, etc.), social media friends, good friends who share a very emotionally close, personal relationship, and then there’s your spouse.

All of those people can be classified, at one level or another, as “friends”. Maybe the question shouldn’t be “Can Christian men and women be friends?” but “Which levels of friendship are biblically appropriate for Christian men and women to engage in?”

2.
Talk About It

If you’re married, especially if there have ever been issues of infidelity or insecurity for either of you, it’s wise to talk out what you’re both comfortable with when it comes to friendships outside the marriage.

It should be a no-brainer that neither of you should have any friendships that even come close to the emotional intimacy, affection, energy, and time you expend with each other. That’s not usually much of a problem for men, but, ladies, what about that close relationship you have with your mother, your sister, or your dearest girl friend? When you get phenomenal news – or devastating news – who is the first person you want to run to and share it with? If it’s anybody other than your husband, that’s a signal that you’re probably too close to that friend and not close enough to your husband.

But beyond being first in each others’ lives, what would be helpful and godly in your marriage regarding opposite sex (or even same sex) friendships? How much time is too much time to spend with a friend? What about going places together, talking on the phone, exchanging e-mails or private messages on social media? Which of the aforementioned “levels” of friendship should be restricted to members of the same sex? Discuss what each of you are OK with and not OK with, and why, avoiding the appearance of evil, and be sure to discuss practical safeguards you can each take against temptation.

If you’re single, these things are just as important to consider. Pray about them, discern how God would have you prioritize your friendships, and the time and emotional intimacy He would have you invest in them. And in the same way you reserve sexual intimacy for marriage, determine to reserve your deepest emotional intimacy for marriage, should that be God’s plan for you, as well.

3.
Different Ways to Be Friends

I think one thing that people who give a staunch and unwavering “no” to friendships between men and women might not be taking into consideration is that a proper, biblical, platonic friendship between a man and a woman isn’t going to look like a proper, biblical, platonic friendship between two women or two men.

My good friend, Darlene, and I text back and forth all the time, private message each other on Facebook, go out to lunch, and spend hours talking one on one. We even went to a conference earlier this year, driving several hundred miles back and forth and rooming together once we got there.

I am also friends with Darlene’s husband. Do I spend as much time with him? Do I spend time with him the same way I spend time with Darlene? Of course not. I talk to him at church, at fellowships, when the four of us spend time together as couples, sometimes (publicly) on social media, and the once in a blue moon informational-type e-mail. The dynamic is totally different. First of all, I’m on a lower level of “friendship intimacy” with him than I am with Darlene. Second of all, it would appear – and would be – inappropriate for me to spend time with him in the same ways I do with Darlene. And, finally, I wouldn’t want to make Darlene or my own husband uncomfortable.

I’m friends with both Darlene and her husband, but I’m friends with each of them on different levels of intimacy and I’m friends with each of them in different ways. To maintain biblical decorum, and to guard our hearts against temptation, friendships between men and women are necessarily going to look different from same gender friendships in the ways we spend time together and how much time we spend together.

4.
Can You Handle It?

An interesting dynamic about this back and forth over whether or not men and women can be friends is that, at least in the conversations I observed, men were more likely to say no, and women were more likely to be the ones promoting the idea of friendship between the sexes and not seeing a problem with it.

Ladies, we don’t get to make the across-the-board pronouncement that co-ed friendships between Christians are fine just because it wouldn’t be problematic for us. Furthermore it should give us pause that good, godly men are saying, “No. There are concerning issues here.” We need to sit down and actually listen to what they’re saying as a group and as individuals.

God created men and women differently. We are wired for relationships differently. That doesn’t mean women are wired right and men are wired wrong and they just need to get over it. It means we approach relationships differently. God created those different approaches and they are both good.

And when our brothers in Christ are saying, “We can’t handle this kind of relationship with you the way you want us to,” we need to respect and value that input into the conversation as much as we respect and value the input from our side of the aisle.

When it comes to individual friendships between a particular man and woman, that same respect and value for what another person can or can’t handle also has to hold sway. Every person is different. There are men you could put into a room full of naked women and they’d be obliviously critiquing the way the painter spackled the walls. There are other men for whom lust is such a temptation that they would have difficulty carrying on a five-minute conversation with a moderately attractive woman. Women are the same way. We all have varying levels of temptation to physical or emotional lust.

Through study of the Word, prayer, and, if you’re married, a healthy relationship with your husband, know your own limitations. Walk circumspectly, wisely, and obediently to Christ. Respect your male friends and acquaintances, and give them the space they need. They are probably trying to walk obediently, too.

 

Can men and women be friends? Of course. It’s how to be friends with one another that we need to pursue with wisdom, love, respect, holiness, purity of heart, and biblical propriety.

Forgiveness, Relationships, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ We’re ALL a Bunch of Bumbling Morons

Originally published November 7, 2014morons

I recently did something colossally stupid.

I can tell by the sound of your jaw hitting the floor that you’re shocked.

dragon-265844_640To repeat the details would be to repeat the offense, so, suffice it to say, it was the metaphorical equivalent of walking across a room and knocking over a really expensive vase. It wasn’t a sin, per se, it was just one of those oafish things we all do from time to time simply because we’re fallen humans living in a fallen world.

Blessedly, God protected the other person and me from the brunt of my bumbling. And then a beautiful thing happened. The other person passed over the incident as if it hadn’t even happened.

Wow.

Now, I can’t tell you the number of times God has had to protect me from my own stupidity (both sinful and non-sinful). One of my favorite passages is Psalm 103:13-14:

As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.

In other words, God knit together every cell in our bodies and knows every thought and action of our lives from conception to death. Nothing unexpected there, for Him. He knows what He’s got to work with. So, God being God and all, maybe it’s not so surprising that He might have that perspective. He knows all of our weaknesses and still shows us compassion. (Don’t mistake my lack of surprise for lack of gratitude. I would be a smoking crater in the ground if God didn’t treat me with that kind of mercy and compassion. I am extremely grateful for it.)

What’s down right unfathomable in this day and age of everybody wearing his feelings on his sleeve, and wanting to absolutely obliterate anyone who causes him the least amount of agitation is for one human to pass over the failure of another. Proverbs 19:11 says:

Good sense makes one slow to anger,
and it is his glory to overlook an offense.

Not- confront the person and demand an apology. Not- stop speaking to the person and carry a grudge until I feel he’s been sufficiently punished. Overlook. Act like it didn’t happen. Refuse to let it change your relationship with the person. Fuhgeddaboutit.

These days, that’s rarer than a modest outfit on a Hollywood starlet, even among professing Christians.

And it shouldn’t be. Because the Bible also says:

And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. Luke 6:31

Remember that? The Golden Rule? What happened to treating others the way we would want to be treated if we were in their shoes? Yes, pernicious sin in the Body needs to be dealt with by confronting the person in mercy, love, and a spirit of restoration,  but what about those non-sinful, unintentional human foibles that land in our laps? Can’t we adopt that same mercy and grace God has towards us and our weaknesses and extend it to others?

flower-child-336658_640I want to get better at that. Because when you get right down to it, we’ve got enough people freaking out and flying off the handle these days. All that does is make everybody tense and unhappy. Not to get all “peace, love, and harmony” on y’all, but, well…couldn’t we use a little more peace, love, and harmony as we do life with other humanoids? And of all the people peace, love, and harmony could come from, shouldn’t it be coming from Christians first? Let’s extend some extra grace and give people room to be human. Everybody’s going to need it at one time or another.

After all, the next bumbling moron to come along just might be you.