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Why Itís Very Difficult For Men And Women To Just Be Friends
The Federalist ^ | 5-29-18 | Wendy Wilson

Posted on 05/29/2018 10:14:29 PM PDT by DeweyCA

The perennial question of whether men and women can be just friends is finding new life among evangelical Christians. Evangelical author Aimee Byrd is promoting intimate friendships between opposite-sex Christians as a way to bond spiritually while modeling for the world that men and women can be close without having to worry about bad behavior and harassment claims.

Byrd has written a series of blog posts on the topic and promises to elaborate in her new book “Why Can’t We Be Friends? Avoidance Is Not Purity,” set to be released in late June. Not surprisingly, Byrd is no fan of the Mike Pence rule, which as practiced by the vice president means he won’t dine alone with a woman who is not his wife nor attend events serving alcohol unless she is with him. The rule is similar to practices the late evangelist Billy Graham, Christian pastors, business leaders, and others have used for years.

Echoing feminist critics of the rule, Byrd wrote in a recent article for First Things that the Pence rule has a “basis in fear” and “calls us to a kind of avoidance that will never comprehend purity.” Byrd’s article starts by detailing newly disclosed allegations of sexual abuse against megachurch pastor Bill Hybels.

But she doesn’t consider that abiding by the Pence rule may have spared Hybels from the trouble he’s in now. Instead, Byrd warns against “putting up fences” and tells men and women to practice Christian love. If you’re pure in heart and spiritually mature, you won’t go astray, her theory goes, ignoring the all-too-painful truth that those who fancy themselves above temptation are especially vulnerable to it.

Just Friend-Zone Everyone, and Then You’re Safe. Byrd believes love between opposite-sex Christians should mimic close relationships between biological siblings. For her, the biblical exhortation to love one another as brothers and sisters in Christ is not just metaphorical. Her unique interpretation has justifiably met with criticism. G. Shane Morris notes that the brother-sister metaphor is one of many in the Bible “meant to deepen our understanding of a single theological reality: our union with Christ and consequent union with one another in Him. To use them in ways not explicit (or at least implicit) in their context is to mishandle Scripture.”

Byrd has favorably compared spending time alone with her biological brother, which poses no threat to her marriage, to time opposite-sex Christian friends spend alone. Even though Byrd nuances her description by saying she doesn’t routinely meet alone with her brother, she misses the larger issue.

Biological siblings have a shared history and know each other’s likes and dislikes, their hopes and fears, and sometimes details of their brightest and darkest moments. For them, sex is never even potentially on the table. When platonic friends begin to build a history and share intimately, however, things can get dicey even if they don’t see each other daily, because as Harry and Sally showed us, the sex part gets in the way.

Emotional Intimacy Is Connected to Physical Intimacy. At the end of the classic movie “When Harry Met Sally,” the two singles end up happily married. But in real life, countless singles and marrieds have realized too late the pain that comes from oversharing emotionally and spiritually with someone they are not meant to be with. Has Byrd not heard of “emotional affairs”? Damaging in and of themselves, they can lead to inappropriate sexual relationships that further inflict pain on one’s self and others.

In my own life as a single, my intimate friendships with single men have ended amid confusion and heartache. But they needed to end, because without a commitment toward something greater, there was no room for the emotional and spiritual closeness to grow in a way that was truly satisfying. Marriage is about more than physical intimacy. It also is for emotional and spiritual intimacy, an intimacy that a platonic friendship can’t sustain.

We may not want sexual tension to be a feature of our lives as men and women, and we may think we can erase it by operating on a higher spiritual plane, but that’s not reality. God made us the way he did for a reason, and that means properly ordering our relationships. I’ve realized the necessity of limiting the amount of time I spend alone with single men if we aren’t dating, and I can’t fathom why I would call up or text a married man at church to see if he wants to hang out at the park to catch up on our lives. That’s what biological siblings do, not what opposite-sex metaphorical siblings in Christ should feel pressured to do.

This Doesn’t Mean No Friendship, Only Give It Parameters. Does this mean that I don’t have male friends, that I avoid men? Hardly. It’s not like there are only two choices here: intimate friendships or avoidance. Men and women can and do easily become friends primarily in group settings at church and elsewhere. There’s no need to become as emotionally close as a biological or adopted brother and sister to see these friendships as enriching.

Byrd writes, “The church has tried to be a godly voice in the midst of a world seduced by the sexual revolution. But often, the church has swung the pendulum too far to the opposite extreme, also over-sexualizing men and women, by imposing guidelines on not only friendship between the sexes, but even on acquaintanceship.”

While I can think of one or two cases of overreaction I’ve come across, and while I’ve read about stringent protocols in fringe fundamentalist groups, I hardly see this as a crisis in the mainstream. As a longtime regular churchgoer, and as someone who has lived in the Bible Belt for nearly 20 years, I’ve never known of serious problems between Christian men and women interacting in groups at church events, Bible studies, or out socially.

Some of the more extreme examples that Byrd strains to characterize as commonplace, such as admonitions against sharing an elevator with the opposite sex, I’m not familiar with at all. The problems I am aware of tend to be those that result from a lack of boundaries, not too many of them.

As for men who follow the Pence rule, it’s grossly unfair to portray them as having unreasonable hang-ups that cause them to want to avoid women. Setting guidelines for specific circumstances does not amount to carving the opposite sex out of your life completely. A follower of the Pence rule might decline lunch alone with a woman, but gladly catch up with her at a group event.

The Pence rule and similar boundaries aren’t about avoiding women entirely, they’re about avoiding situations that can put both men and women in awkward, potentially compromising situations. While I don’t follow a female version of the Pence rule to the letter, I wouldn’t be offended if a man—be he a co-worker, boss, or fellow church member—worked around meeting alone with me or invited a third person to lunch or dinner. If women want to be better friends with men, we need to show greater appreciation for where they’re coming from, and not be so quick to view the boundaries they set as a personal slight or a slight against women.

Safeguards Against Danger Are Simply Prudent. Byrd doesn’t seem to want to give men a say if their perspective contradicts hers, nor does she seem willing to give women who support measures like the Pence rule a fair hearing. Like secular feminists, she is adamant that such safeguards objectify women, reducing them to temptresses while reducing men to predators.

But scandals in Hollywood, Washington DC, and evangelical churches should tell us it’s wise to be on alert for those with less than pure motives, and to guard ourselves and others against temptations before we learn the hard way we or they can’t bear them. In addition, setting boundaries isn’t solely about preventing the worst-case scenarios that lead to adultery or land people in jail or plastered all over the news. It’s also about preventing intimacies with others that can tear at a marriage and leave singles feeling rudderless.

In her lofty theorizing, Byrd isn’t concerned enough about the real-life effects of what she’s proposing and the various ways it could go wrong. She writes, “Dealing with the sin in our own hearts, confessing temptations, offering them to God, and choosing obedience and holy, purifying love is much more difficult than avoiding people. Challenges should not be ignored. But they don’t mean we aren’t called to intimate sibling communion with one another. They just mean that we need to grow.”

In acknowledging the challenges, Byrd shared about a time she cautioned her husband about a woman she thought had more than friendship with him in mind. If only that would have inspired in Byrd a greater sensitivity toward tensions between men and women on a broader scale, and more circumspection before recommending intimate sibling communion for spiritual growth. Instead, we’re left mostly with feminist-like anger over common-sense boundaries that served many people well for ages but in more recent years have been coming undone.

Wendy Wilson is a teacher and writer in Nashville. She has a master’s degree in intercultural studies from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee.


TOPICS: Society
KEYWORDS: aimeebyrd; dating; friend; friends; friendship; genderwars; infatuation; men; sex; sexes; whenharrymetsally; women
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This author, Wendy Wilson, certainly has much more common sense (and Biblical sense) about men and women than Aimee Byrd, whom she quotes in the article. It is stupid to unnecessarily tempt men, even the best of men. Aimee Byrd is EXTREMELY naive about how men think.

It also is stupid to think that men and women can be just like sibling brothers and sisters. That line of reasoning doesn't account for infatuation and the stigma of incest. When I grew up with my two sisters, I often hated them. There was NO infatuation to cloud my perception of them. I saw all of their flaws and the way that they treated me. It is MUCH different when a guy meets a gal and sees only the nice front that she is presenting to him. And of course, the same thing applies vice-versa. The thought of committing incest never crossed my mind. It was simple unthinkable. However, with other women, lust is always POTENTIALLY just a few seconds away. There is NO comparison.

1 posted on 05/29/2018 10:14:30 PM PDT by DeweyCA
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To: DeweyCA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_lh5fR4DMA


2 posted on 05/29/2018 10:18:46 PM PDT by lurk
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To: DeweyCA

3 posted on 05/29/2018 10:22:29 PM PDT by Vendome (I've Gotta Be Me https://youtu.be/wH-pk2vZGw2M)
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To: DeweyCA

“Echoing feminist critics of the rule”

Feminist founders of NOW specifically sought to encourage infidelity and smash the institution of marriage and end the concept of monogamy.

The Left’s criticism of the rule is not based on any principles or “fears” except that it makes it harder to blackmail someone (with a real or fake scandal).


4 posted on 05/29/2018 10:22:55 PM PDT by a fool in paradise (Ads for Chappaquiddick warn of scenes of tobacco use. What about the hazards of drunk driving?)
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To: DeweyCA

Do not we pray, “Lead us not into temptation?”


5 posted on 05/29/2018 10:25:09 PM PDT by VietVet
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To: DeweyCA

>>Just Friend-Zone Everyone, and Then You’re Safe.

Friend-zoning can be selfish act when on party uses the friendship to complain about all of the reckless abandon and frivolous flings (s)he is engaging in and needing comforting after the fun wears off. Are they seeking validation of their sexual lifestyle choices? Rubbing it in someone’s face who’s been put on the short leash?


6 posted on 05/29/2018 10:26:23 PM PDT by a fool in paradise (Ads for Chappaquiddick warn of scenes of tobacco use. What about the hazards of drunk driving?)
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To: DeweyCA

However, with other women, lust is always POTENTIALLY just a few seconds away. There is NO comparison.
+++++++++
You nailed it.

It’s just the way we are wired. While you can always walk away for quite good reasons, the lust follows you out the door.


7 posted on 05/29/2018 10:28:15 PM PDT by InterceptPoint (Ted, you finally endorsed. About time)
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To: DeweyCA

bookmark


8 posted on 05/29/2018 10:43:09 PM PDT by GOP Poet
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To: DeweyCA

Not possible to be friends.

Friends dont wait to get pissh at something you say so they can then be offended and have their desired drama and tension tantrum.

Friends dont expect you to fix all their broken stuff and do things for them, but they never seem to return the favor when you really need help.

Women do not keep men around to be friends. Men are just things that do things for them, and if you are not going to do things for them, or be an emotional tampon for them, they will no longer want to “be friends”.

Guys can hang out, they dont expect other friends to just do things for them without reciprocating, they dont create drama and get pissy because they are bored or are offended.

And guys dont lie about being raped or sexually harassed by other guys.


9 posted on 05/29/2018 10:48:34 PM PDT by Secret Agent Man ( Gone Galt; Not averse to Going Bronson.)
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To: DeweyCA
God made men and women different for one simple reason ....

Genesis 1:28
King James Version (KJV)

28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.


To multiply and replenish the earth (so that they can) have dominion over all of the rest of creation.

Sin screwed things up ... a LOT ... but the basic purpose never changed.


Men desire women and women (should) desire men.

Why the (should) ?

Because women got glitched somewhere along the line.

Men still desire women but women will not admit to desiring men


.

10 posted on 05/29/2018 10:55:53 PM PDT by knarf (I say things that are true, I have no proof, but they're true)
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To: Secret Agent Man

“And guys don’t lie about being raped or sexually harassed by other guys.”

I’ve always thought that the “Pence Rule” was primarily about that. (As was Billy Graham’s before him.) Perhaps some of it was to curb actual lust, but primarily to avoid the perception of wrong-doing (”What was she doing in there with Dr. Graham for an hour with the door closed!!??”). And I think in today’s world to avoid any false accusations.

I’ve been in numerous small-group Bible studies with women in them. Of course, we were mostly all married couples, but they became “friends” in the context of those weekly studies in our various homes and in church. Of course it never dawned on me to meet up with one of the women for drinks after work. (Well - actually we did a few times - with my wife and as a group before going out for some other function.)


11 posted on 05/29/2018 10:58:12 PM PDT by 21twelve
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Now I can’t get a certain song by a band called War out of my head.


12 posted on 05/29/2018 11:01:40 PM PDT by Olog-hai ("No Republican, no matter how liberal, is going to woo a Democratic vote." -- Ronald Reagan, 1960)
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To: DeweyCA

Byrd needs to read the Book of Proverbs. I am dismayed at the ideas some modern Christians have. Don’t they ever read The Book?


13 posted on 05/29/2018 11:04:08 PM PDT by Flaming Conservative ((Pray without ceasing))
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To: DeweyCA

I was only friends with three types of girls growing up

1) those I wasn’t attracted to

2) those who I was sexually attracted to and thought maybe a chance one day in the future I’d get to the bases

3) my male friends girlfriends...and I’m still friends with several of those girls who married divorced etc

Most of my friends here are girls and were we all younger and single I’d prolly be sweating them and getting rejected a lot but maybe not totally

It’s just how men and women work...

Now as an old man @ 60 I am actually friendly in a grandpa way with very young women from work or my daughters pals..

Everyone knows I adore women and beauty but they also know I’m old and loyal to my wife of many years who they also like and admire for her fashion intellect and staying power being in shape and still hot in her early 50s

I enjoy their company and since I have zero skin in the game it’s just cool and you get to see young women like they really are without being blurry with lust...not saying I’m blind ...it’s just different

My teen boys are like dad how can you strike up a conversation and relax talking to such gorgeous women...

It’s simple when you aren’t thinking about sex but just listening to them and admiring their awesomeness respectfully

My wife says I enjoy the attention....lol

I can’t think of any better exit than at my funeral a few young girls who admired me waxing he was pretty cool for an old guy

Distinguished looking is the proper term....lol

Plus and don’t underestimate...
Women love a man faithful to his wife


14 posted on 05/29/2018 11:06:34 PM PDT by wardaddy (Hanged not hung.)
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To: wardaddy

Plus and don’t underestimate...
Women love a man faithful to his wife.


Number one, 60 is NOT old. And number two, a man who is a great husband, is an aphrodisiac to other women, especially if they’re not happy. I’d say you may not be as in the clear as you’d like to think. Caution, wardaddy, caution. ;-)


15 posted on 05/29/2018 11:13:16 PM PDT by Flaming Conservative ((Pray without ceasing))
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To: wardaddy

Plus and don’t underestimate...
Women love a man faithful to his wife.


Number one, 60 is NOT old. And number two, a man who is a great husband, is an aphrodisiac to other women, especially if they’re not happy. I’d say you may not be as in the clear as you’d like to think. Caution, wardaddy, caution. ;-)


16 posted on 05/29/2018 11:14:00 PM PDT by Flaming Conservative ((Pray without ceasing))
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To: wardaddy

Plenty of younger good looking women want sex with older men, much older men, and want to control them, and play the game very artfully. Don’t flatter yourself that you’re somehow “exempt” from human nature. Or that you are seeing them “as they really are”. Satan is everywhere. If they can get you to lust after them even if you don’t admit having those thoughts, and even if they plan on rejecting you, they will. It’s what all women do. Regardless of age.


17 posted on 05/29/2018 11:26:14 PM PDT by 4Runner
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To: 21twelve; All

The “Billy Graham” rule (developed in the late 1940s) was NOT merely about sex, but about integrity in life and ministry in general.

Sometimes called the “Modesto Manifesto,” Graham and his ministry partners (his preaching was just part of the whole Crusade ministry) all agreed on four points:

1) Money: Evangelists before him existed on the collections they took—and hence were tempted to make very emotional appeals, and play to big crowds....just to get more money. Graham and associates also made their living from collections—but agreed to each be on a fixed salary—and to uphold the highest standards of financial accountability in the organization—to avoid the shady “Elmer Gantry” type corruption others in ministry had been known for.....

2) Sexual: “We all knew of evangelists who had fallen into immorality while separated from their families by travel. We pledged among ourselves to avoid any situation that would have even the appearance of compromise or suspicion. From that day on, I did not travel, meet or eat alone with a woman other than my wife. We determined that the Apostle Paul’s mandate to the young pastor Timothy would be ours as well: “Flee … youthful lusts” (2 Timothy 1:22, KJV).” (from the BillyGraham.org website)

3)”Our third concern was the tendency of many evangelists to carry on their work apart from the local church, even to criticize local pastors and churches openly and scathingly. We were convinced, however, that this was not only counterproductive but also wrong from the Bible’s standpoint. We determined to cooperate with all who would cooperate with us in the public proclamation of the Gospel, and to avoid an antichurch or anticlergy attitude.”

4) “The fourth and final issue was publicity. The tendency among some evangelists was to exaggerate their successes or to claim higher attendance numbers than they really had. This likewise discredited evangelism and brought the whole enterprise under suspicion. It often made the press so suspicious of evangelists that they refused to take notice of their work. In Modesto we committed ourselves to integrity in our publicity and our reporting.”

As you can see, Graham wasn’t hung up on sex—he just wanted to maintain his integrity....which, by every account, against a LOT of odds (esp. with his huge successes!), he did, magnificently.

It’s really hard to argue with one of the greatest Christian evangelists in history on how to maintain integrity.


18 posted on 05/29/2018 11:42:45 PM PDT by AnalogReigns (Real life is ANALOG...)
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To: DeweyCA
I guess a lot of this really depends on how one defines 'friends.' I can definitely see potential difficulties if 'being friends' means an opposite-sex pair hanging out by themselves or communicating on a very regular basis. And I think that's the very wise basis for the so-called Pence Rule. \ But if 'friendship' is defined more broadly in terms of merely being friendly with someone, appreciating the person's good qualities, perhaps helping the other person with occasional advice, etc., I honestly don't think it's that big of a deal for men and women to be 'just friends' under those more broadly defined circumstances. In fact, I believe that it happens all the time among professional colleagues, schoolmates, family friends, etc.. I mean, sure, there's an insurmountable barrier to being 'just friends' if one or both of the two has designs on a sexual relationship (or even a fantasy thereof).

But aren't there men and women who simply aren't interested in each other in a sexual way (e.g., due to being happily married to people they like better, or perhaps because of age difference or physical incapability or perhaps simply as a result of not being attracted to each other)? This is just an off-the-wall example, and maybe it's off-base, but think about Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. The perception that I always had is that they were, in a sense, friends. They liked and admired each other, and enjoyed talking to each other and visiting occasionally. As far as I know, they were happily married to their respective spouses and there was nothing improper about their relationship. Of course, maybe someone will come on here and say that Ron and Maggie were never friends, couldn't have cared less about each other and that their purported friendship was a media creation or perhaps an example of two cynical, cunning politicians using each other to achieve various political ends.. I don't know. They seemed like friends to me.
19 posted on 05/29/2018 11:57:02 PM PDT by irishjuggler
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To: DeweyCA

This Byrd lady must never have read Somerset Maugham’s story “Rain.”


20 posted on 05/30/2018 12:07:44 AM PDT by Yaelle
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