Tag Archives: marriage

Reclaiming Friendship Love

13 Jan

Meerkat09 left a great comment on my last post–in fact, Single People Are Not the Enemy received a LOT of thoughtful comments; it’s obviously a hot topic! But I want to talk about Meerkat’s comment today.

Meerkat pointed out that married Christians might not realize what they’re doing when they deny us friendship, because “Singles don’t get to be friends with Christians of the opposite gender.”

It’s a sad but true phenomenon in many Christian circles that friendship between a man and a woman is seen as something dangerous. I don’t know if it’s just a case of too many Christians having seen When Harry Met Sally a few too many times or what, but right up there with belief in the triune nature of God and the resurrection of Jesus seems to be the “fact” that women and men can’t be friends without sex getting in the way.

What drives me crazy about this idea is that it isn’t an honest reflection of the Bible. Men and women in the Bible are friends and counselors to each other in many situations without sex getting in the way. Let’s look at a few:

Deborah and Barak (Judges 4 & 5)

Deborah was a prophetess, one of Israel’s judges. She passed along God’s order for Barak son of Abinoam to wage war on Sisera. What was Barak’s response? “If you will go with me, I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” Incidentally, this has always been one of my favorite stories in the First Testament, not only because a woman was judge, but also because of the gruesomely awesome way in which Sisera was defeated: while he was running from Barak, a woman gave him shelter in her tent. Sisera fell asleep, and the woman drove a tent stake through his head. Pretty badass.

In any event, Barak thought highly enough of Deborah that he wouldn’t go to war without her advice. When they won, they sang a long victory song together. Then Deborah went back to her husband Lappidoth and Israel “had rest for forty years.”

Paul and Priscilla and Aquila (Acts 18:1-3, Romans 16:3-5)

Paul met Priscilla and her husband Aquila in Corinth. They were tentmakers like Paul, so he stayed at their home and they worked together. Priscilla and Aquila were such good friends and helpers to Paul that when he left Corinth for Syria, they went with him. Later, when Paul is sending his greetings to them in Romans, he writes, “Greet Prisca and Aquila, who work with me in Christ Jesus, and who risked their necks for my life…” That’s a pretty strong friendship!

Paul and Lydia (Acts 14: 14-15, 40)

Lydia was probably a wealthy woman, because she was a dealer of purple cloth, and purple was the color of royalty in those days, a very expensive dye. When Paul’s little band of missionaries got to Philippi, Lydia heard Paul’s preaching and was baptized. She invited Paul’s group to come and stay at her home. While they were there, Paul (that rabble-rouser) drove a demon out of a slave girl and got himself arrested. Lydia could have turned away from these dangerous missionaries, but she was a true friend to them. When Paul was released from prison, he went back to Lydia’s home to encourage them before he left town.

Jesus and Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42, John 11:1-45)

Let’s not leave out our Savior when talking about friendships between men and women! Jesus was incredibly liberal when it came to attitudes towards women at that time. He allowed Mary to sit at his feet and learn, which was a role usually reserved for men. We know Jesus was also friends with Mary and Martha’s brother Lazarus, but look at how Luke 10:38 puts it: “he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home.” It doesn’t say Jesus stayed with Lazarus, but with Martha. Maybe Lazarus lived with Martha, but that isn’t indicated.

Later, when Lazarus was sick, John says, “though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus”, which I find telling–it lists Martha first. Maybe Martha was the head of that family, or perhaps her friendship with Jesus was stronger than the others. Martha’s faith in Jesus was so strong that, even when Jesus let Lazarus die, she knew said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” Then she went on to confess she believed Jesus was the Messiah.

So often all we remember about Martha is that she was too busy to sit and listen to Jesus during one of his visits. But I think the evidence is there that she had a strong relationship with Jesus, both as a friend and as her Savior.

Jesus and Mary Magdalene (Luke 8:1-3, John 20:11-18)

If we listen to Andrew Lloyd Webber or Dan Brown, Mary Magdalene was in love with Jesus. But what the Bible shows us is a relationship far more complicated and inspiring. Jesus cast seven demons out of Mary, and she believed in him and followed him. Mary is one of several women who are referenced multiple times in the Gospels as being active in Jesus’ ministry. In fact, her friendship with Jesus was so important that she was one of the first to see him after his resurrection.

Okay, this is getting long, so I’ll stop here, but I think my point is made. The Bible provides models of friendships between the sexes, and the church is remiss in ignoring this important type of relationship. The fact is, men and women think in different ways, and both perspectives are important when you’re trying to achieve wisdom. After all, God created humankind in His image–“male and female He created them”–so both perspectives are necessary.

As Meerkat said, “I really think that Christians need to reclaim friendship love. Love does not always equal romance/sex. Friendship love exists.”

I’m pretty sure I’ll be returning to this topic in future posts, but for now, what do you think? Can men and women be friends? How do we reclaim friendship love?

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Single People Are Not the Enemy

4 Jan

'dislike button' photo (c) 2011, Sean MacEntee - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

One of my friends lost someone he’d grown up with. They’d gone to the same church since childhood. They’d attended school together. They read the same kinds of books and watched the same kinds of movies, and even double-dated at times. Sure, he’d had a crush on her at one point, and at a totally different point she’d had a crush on him. But that was a decade in the past, and their friendship had never had a basis in romantic or sexual attraction.

It came to a tragic end when his lifelong friend said I do…to some other man. A man who felt threatened by my buddy’s presence in his wife’s life. Suddenly my friend found himself not only reduced to a brief smile in passing at church, but someone whose occasional phone calls or emails didn’t get answered. Shortly after the wedding, he learned she had de-friended him on Facebook.

This story is tragic.

Listen up, married people: Single people are not the enemy.

We’re not out to steal your spouse. We’re not trying to wreck your marriage. And if you’re too insecure to cope with the fact that your spouse wants to be friends with someone of the opposite sex, that isn’t my problem. It’s yours. And you need to deal with it, because I don’t deserve to have a friendship ripped away from me because you have a problem.

Your Insecurity =/= My Fault

Why did Mr. Insecure feel the need to end his wife’s friendship? I can think of a lot of reasons, none of which are my buddy’s fault:

– Mr. Insecure thinks his wife likes Friendly Guy better.

– Mr. Insecure is afraid his wife will leave him for Friendly Guy.

– Mr. Insecure resents the time his wife spends with Friendly Guy.

But is ending the friendship a good response? I say no, and the number one reason is this: ending the wife’s friendship with Friendly Guy is not going to address the obvious issues with her marriage to Mr. Insecure.

Instead of ending the friendship, why didn’t Mr. Insecure confront the reasons he felt threatened by the friendship? Why didn’t he spend more time strengthening his marriage instead of destroying the friendship? Why didn’t he attempt to cultivate a friendship with Friendly Guy, which would not only strengthen Mr. Insecure’s marriage, but also possibly bless him and Friendly Guy both?

Sure, it’s easy to blame the single friend. But it isn’t honest, and it isn’t effective.

Facebook and eHarmony Aren’t Killing Your Marriage

Sure, there are wives who reconnect with old flames on Facebook and divorce their husbands to pursue some fantasy. There are guys who set up secret eHarmony profiles to meet one-night-stands despite being married. Guess what? That sort of thing happened before the internet existed. It’s just the methods that have changed.

I read an interesting article today on the Atlantic website. Apparently some guy blames online dating sites for the way he can’t get a woman to settle down…ignoring the fact that he doesn’t put her happiness ahead of his own, doesn’t seem to care about his credit score or career, and wants to spend all his time watching sports and drinking beer.  Thankfully, someone who obviously has a much clearer idea of how adult relationships work wrote a response, pointing out the flaws in the argument. Maybe it’s not online dating that’s the problem, buddy. Maybe, just maybe, the problem is you.

Jesus put it another way: “Look to the plank in your own eye before removing the speck in your brother’s eye.”

Single People Aren’t Predators Looking for Marriages to Break Up.

No, I’m not actively looking for a spouse. But when I’m attracted to a guy who seems interesting, the first thing I do is check that left hand. If he’s wearing a ring, he’s automatically off-limits. That’s just how it works. Sure, there are people out there who don’t care. But I’m sick and tired of married people assuming the worst about me because of their own fears.

Think about this logically. If I’m looking for love, which is easier–to find someone who’s available and try to catch his interest, or to find someone who has already made an emotional and expensive commitment to someone else, which I must first sabotage and dissolve in order for me to experience my own version of marital bliss? Frankly, I’m just too damn lazy to try to break up someone’s marriage. Besides, who wants all that drama? Divorce is ugly. Especially if there are kids involved.

Your man may be great, but no one is worth me going to all that effort.

Not to mention…and I know this may be hard to believe, but…single people with ethics do actually exist.

The Real Question

So here’s my question: Why do people think married folks and single folks can’t be friends?

Jesus was a single guy, and he hung out with people like Peter, who had a mother-in-law, so obviously had a wife. Paul was a single guy, and he named Priscilla and Aquila as some of his closest friends. Yet people in the church seem to think a friendship between a single person and a married person is an infidelity just waiting to happen.

I think this is hypocritical, and I think it’s frankly dangerous. If you don’t address the real threats to marriage–things like married partners not putting each other first, married partners not talking honestly with each other, married partners not honoring Christ in their marriage–you’re not just hurting a single person who has lost a friend. You might just be giving up on that marriage before it really gets started.

*

As a postscript, I’m going to fast forward my buddy’s story ten years. After a decade of ups and downs, including a lengthy separation period and marital counseling and lots of heartache, Mr. Insecure and his wife divorced…even though Friendly Guy hadn’t been involved in the woman’s life since she said “I do.”

Pretty telling, isn’t it?

Single-and-Not-Dating…With Caveats (Part 3)

27 Sep

Last Monday I started answering a question Edarnut asked me: There seem to be 3 kinds of Christian singles: Single and looking for a spouse, single and dating but not really spouse hunting, and single and not dating. Which are you? And how is the “singles ministry” dynamic between the 3 types?

Then on Thursday I continued my response and talked about how I came to realize I was content with singledom.

Today I want to explain the caveat I added to her category–that is, that I’m not opposed to marriage.

First I need to clarify that I’m not talking about marriage across the board. I’m not opposed to that, either, but I mean specifically that I’m not opposed to my own marriage. I don’t dislike men. I believe in the institution of marriage. (I also believe the government shouldn’t be defining it, but let’s not get into politics today, huh?)

I’m just not actively seeking marriage. I’m not actively seeking a spouse.

Christian readers of my blog are probably familiar with the story of Isaac and Rebekah, how the servant set out to find a wife for Isaac, prayed to God for a sign, and was granted that sign. The servant asked Rebekah for water at the well, and she offered to draw water for his camels too, whereupon he decked her out in jewelry and proclaimed her the bride God had chosen for his master.

Well, I like to joke that if God sends a dude with camels and bracelets to ask me for water, that’s about the only way I’ll end up married. That might sound flippant, but what it boils down to is that if God wants me to get married, He’ll place the right man in my path at the right time and cause me to know His will.

At which point I hope to heaven I’m wise enough to recognize it!

But I’m not anticipating that day. I’m not holding my breath waiting for a Prince Charming. I’m not praying every day for my future husband. Frankly, I don’t know if he even exists, and I’m not fussed either way. Why should I pray for some dude who may not even be real, especially if I’m not even staying awake nights hoping he is?

What I want to focus on is the here and now. The missions God has placed in my life. The passions God has given me regarding how to serve Him. The conditions in which I currently serve God.

So I’m not opposed to marriage. I’m just not out there looking for it.

Single and Not Dating. That’s me. With caveats. 🙂

I’m Not Married to Jesus

28 Apr

A recent post in a blog I follow (OurSinglePurpose.com) got me thinking. It’s a very well-written and carefully considered post called My Maker My Husband — and I completely disagree with it.

I know, I’m starting out with fighting words. But I want to explain that, while a lot of Christian singles may find comfort in the idea of being “married to Jesus” or viewing God as “our husband”, I’m not one of those singles. And, in fact, if I were a straight guy, that idea would creep me out even more than it does as a straight girl.
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I don’t want to be married to God. The concept of marriage is a lovely one, and thankfully my parents have portrayed a good example of a lasting, loving marriage for me. But that isn’t how I see God. That isn’t how I experience God.

Especially when you start thinking about one of the greatest privileges of marriage. You know the one I’m talking about. And when people say “he’s a god in bed”, that’s one thing. But I really don’t want to think about having sex with God.

It isn’t that single people are naturally asexual. We have urges. We’re physically attracted to people. Heck, a lot of us have kissed other people. Some of us have done more than kiss. But if the church tells me that sex is a sacrament of marriage and that I should view myself as married to Jesus, isn’t that the logical conclusion? How many of the people who tell me to view God as my husband really think that analogy through?

Okay, I know in the Bible, Paul seems to compare the husband being the head of the wife to Christ being the head of the church. So apparently we’re supposed to draw from that the concept that the church is the bride of Christ. I guess maybe I can get that, but in that case we’re talking in complete metaphor, right? Because how else could a whole gigantic group of people stretching around the world and through time from 2000 years ago until today marry the same guy and have that work out?

And while we’re at it, I’m going to agree with commenter Jubilee at this post on Jon Acuff’s “Stuff Christians Like” blog. Jubilee points out (if you scroll way WAAAAY down in the comments) that Isaiah 54:5 is addressed to Israel. Corporate Israel, Jubilee points out–not a lonely single lady. If each individual Christian was supposed to view God as his/her husband, Jubilee says, every married Christian would be committing adultery against Jesus! (I’d like to add, as well, that would make God a huge polygamist.)

All joking aside, I know there are a lot of Christian people out there who do take comfort in the idea of God as a spouse. There are probably married people who view Him that way as well. (The sheer number of “Jesus is my girlfriend” songs would lead me to believe a lot of worship song writers view God as a lover.) Holly Howard, who wrote the blog post that got me thinking about this, certainly does. And she makes some fantastic points. I really like her table, in particular, showing the parallels of what a single asks for in a spouse, and what God offers us. While I don’t enjoy thinking of them in terms of Jesus as my spouse, I do take a lot of value out of being reminded that the Bible is God’s love letter to me, and that I can have an intimate relationship with God. Don’t think I’m writing this merely as a criticism of Ms. Howard’s post, because it’s not. It’s just another viewpoint.

And from my point of view, I’m not married to Jesus.

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