People kind of look at me funny because I have friends who so happen to be male. I wanted to show a big long pause here in this blog post to emphasize how awkward it is that people look at you sideways when you have friends of the opposite sex that you aren’t having sex with, but I don’t know how to do that well.

I remember when I was mentoring some chicks in junior high, there was this weird saying about not making purple. That’s when guys (blue) didn’t hang out with girls (red) because otherwise it would make purple.

Actually, that doesn’t make sense written down either. Can’t blue sit beside red and not hump … er … I mean sex … um, I mean … ? Yes, yes they can.

Here’s the thing, I’m super tired of a hyper-sexualized society which demands men and women cannot engage in friendship because ultimately they will also engage in having sex. It’s a silly idea that people came up with long ago to make sure their kids weren’t having kids at the age of twelve, which is an awesome inspiration, but also entirely faulty. An idea that ultimately aimed at protecting people from harm, but, failing to teach us how to appropriately handle relationship.

I have some guy friends who have also tried having sex with me. Those are now really funny stories, and I love them for it. But after being intentional in my friendships, some of these guys have become some of my closest friends, where neither of us question our friendship for friends with benefits.

There are a few things that go sideways when we talk about separating people because they may be attracted to each other, and it’s something we need to address on multiple levels. But before we get started, let me remind you: don’t be stupid. This isn’t a hall pass to falsely become friends with people you’re attracted to just to get an in. This post isn’t an encouragement to finally chat with that dude, even though he’s married to your small group leader. That’s dumb, and you already know it.

However here’s what we do when we disqualify someone from friendship based on the assumption of an ‘inescapable’ (haha) sexual attraction:

ONE: We really are just sexual beings.

When we discourage or eliminate the idea of all kinds of friendship, we perpetuate the stigma that we really are just sexual beings, incompetent of being supportive, loving or good for each other. While I do fully understand many people just cannot handle friendship, and those people should create safe boundaries for themselves and others, there are so many potentially healthy friendships that aren’t being had because of fear. Yes, I need you to hear that: friendships aren’t happening because of fear, and that’s not okay when we’ve been told to do all things in love, not fear.

I have one guy friend that I can call on anytime of the day wit’s questions about purpose, writing, or even a cool documentary I should watch. I have another guy friend who has been just like a brother since I was 13, and three young men I keep in touch with regularly. All three of them have wormed their way into my heart like younger brothers, and I am so blessed by the men they are. Three of these guys love Jesus, and two don’t. Those last two tried hooking up with me, but got stuck with me as a sister instead. All four of them make me a better woman. All four of them have conversation with me that lifts me, inspires me, and convicts me to live better. And, we’ve humped zero times. No where near, in fact.

TWO: We exclude people from the convo.

I have friends around the world who love Jesus, love church and are attracted to people of the same sex. When we talk about separating men from women because of sexual attraction, we are excluding people who are attracted to the same sex. I’m laughing about such a weird standard. See, when people hear about my gay friends, they don’t ever question if we should hang out alone, if I should continue having a friendship with them from around the world or if we should hang out at all. However, when I hang out with my guy friends, bombs go off and people start whispering. I would love to see a world where we understood friendship was given to us by God as a blessing, rather than continue to perpetuate an unfair stereotype. He didn’t create boundaries around friendship based on sexual attraction, he gave us boundaries for healthy relationship, regardless of their gender.

THREE: We avoid what we’re meant to face.

Call me crazy, but it doesn’t seem to help when we keep men and women from building healthy relationship with each other. What I see is a perpetuation of inability to understand the value of brothers or sisters in Christ, while increasing a likelihood of viewing each other sexually, rather than wholly. Just because we haven’t been able to view someone as a brother or sister doesn’t mean we’re incapable of it, it means we haven’t worked very hard to see people in the light God asked us to see each other.

I’m sure you’re wondering, at what point then, should we not be friends? And to that, I’d say start thinking with your head and your heart! I would consider my best friend’s husband a friend, but do I ever talk with him outside of being with my best friend? No, of course not, because that’s rude and dumb, even if there is no attraction. And if a guy continues being a fool trying to get in my pants? No, I have no time for that. (In the case of a guy, if she keeps obviously flirting with you, back off. She doesn’t care about friendship.) If I have friends who are dating, there is respect for that dating relationship, while we don’t cut each other off either. In fact, one of the young men I talk to regularly just got engaged. He talked with me before proposing, and I was able to affirm his decision and pray for him while he prepped to win his girl’s heart! More so, he and his fiancé spend their time with me, because friendship grows.

We need to understand what happens when we embrace friendship, regardless of someone’s sex. First, we challenge our own belief system of someone’s worth. When someone is no longer some strange sexual threat for simply being, they can become so much more. What I’ve found from my experience is anything but threat. In fact, some of my male friends act as better conviction, support or fun than my female friends.

Second, when we truly embrace friendship, we’re telling everyone that their experience matters. I’ve found it incredibly inspirational having gay friends, who show me that I need to be protective and vulnerable with all my relationships. It’s shown me that nothing matters more than being intentionally loving, whomever it is.

Lastly, and seriously the most important, we grow! See, God gave us each other to grow. I’m not saying you have to have all kinds of friendship, but I am telling you that you’re probably missing out if you choose not to based on fear. Of course, my male friendships look different, but that’s because they are my friends and I love them. I wouldn’t dare put our friendship in jeopardy. That’s called wisdom. Not only can you grow in wisdom, but you can grow in self-control, respect and love among so much more by simply choosing friendship, never mind what their character will teach you.

I don’t get it right all the time. Sometimes I think we can be friends, and then I have to cut off something that’s not healthy. And sometimes I’m not able to see someone just as a friend, and that’s cool too. I guess I just think we’re missing out when we disqualify someone from friendship based on fear rather than good reason. So go ahead, let red sit by blue and see for yourself, you don’t have to end up humping… errr… I mean, purple.

 

Let all that you do, be done in love. 1 Cor. 16:14