First off let me say, I totally support a bit of mystery between the sexes. What’s more fun then that? Husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, even just friends, are allowed to have their secrets, their privacy, their space.
Also, a big part of romance is the intrigue, discovery, mystery, surprise. Men and women are different, we cultivate those differences for a reason. Part of the fun is discovering one another. To add to the delight of the design, we people are always changing. It can be a very negative thing to say, “my spouse is not the same person I married,” OR it can actually be a delightful new experience, a whole set of yet unknown mysteries to now unwrap and discover. You can simply fall in love all over again.
A big part of life is about our choices and our attitude. I sometimes joke about how you have a choice when your spouse seems to be a different person, not who you married. You can feel sorry for yourself, blame them, or you can simply say, Praise the Lord! He has handed me a totally new person to a have an affair with and I’m already married to them! That is somewhat funny, but hey, perspective matters.
In the modern world people are often having affairs, looking for something new, getting divorced, and yet when our spouse seems to change into someone new, we simply flee? What’s with that? Our attitudes will literally begin to shape our reality, so perspective becomes very important here. Our perspective is often all wrong.
I’ve been reading Aimee Byrd’s book, “Why Can’t we Be Friends,” and feeling a bit down about it, not about the book itself, but about some of the opposition and criticism, mostly coming from some pastors. First let me say, Sam Powell is a pastor, a rather reformed one, and he seemed to really appreciate the book and the theology Aimee draws on, so all is well with my world.
It is just that I am sad for many men and for what I can only describe as some self-inflicted misandry. Man loathing, by men, literally. Somebody smart coined the word intimacy as, “into me see.” Well, if you fear being seen, known, and accepted for who you are, scratch all chances for intimacy. Everyone needs relationship, connection, intimacy. I suspect women are much better at it by nature, and much less happy if we can’t find it. Just the same, a desire for intimacy is a vital part of human nature, a vital need even, and so it makes me sad to read what some of these guys are saying, in what looks a whole lot like self sabotage, disguised as so-called manliness, or even worse, sometimes disguised as gospel.
So the thinking goes something like this, women have no idea what goes on in men’s minds and if we did we would abandon them in a minute. We live in a culture that lies to women because women can’t handle the truth. Women totally want to be lied to because if we had the slightest idea what men were really like, we’d probably just annilate them all. Or find them unnattractive. Or reject them.
Right. Like women don’t grow up play acting all our future relationships, and eventually begin studying men rather extensively? Also, I often want to say, where in the heck is this Easy Street you speak of, this place where I am allegedly sheltered from the truth about the total depravity of mankind?? Like, lie to me already, that would be quite lovely, but I’m afraid it’s much too late for deception.
I really dislike this narrative that seems to suggest men are all these vile, sexual wildebeests who have no self control, while women are all sheltered, and pure as the driven snow. Naive. Unaware of what men are “really like.” Heaven forbid men ever show any weakness, or any vulnerability either, because obviously women will flee and simply find themselves a less defective model.
That actually really tears at my heart strings. It’s annoying as all get go to wade through this stuff, but lurking beneath it is this real cry for help, this sadness. Rejection, fear, self loathing. Condemnation. Shame.
Something that struck me in the midst of reading all this nonsense, nevermind about whether or not men and women can be friends, these narratives are actually destroying our marriages, where we are supposed to be friends! Women especially need to feel loved, cared for, and they need an intimate connection. An intimate connection requires men to be strong enough, to actually be slightly vulnerable. I don’t wish to frighten anyone, so I said, “slightly vulnerable.” Nobody’s suggesting men must be all emotional and touchy feely here, but if you can’t give something of yourself emotionally, how in the world can there even be any intimacy in a marriage?
And so the number one reason for divorce today actually amounts to women feeling emotionally abandoned. That’s what surveys say. There’s no emotional and spiritual intimacy. That’s what women always read as, no love and certainly no respect for women, since our needs apparently don’t matter in the equation.
But that’s not really it at all, it seems as if there is this epic failure coming from some parts of “the church,” this shaming of men that serves to try to create sexual distance between men and women, and instead just creates confusion and emotional separation. Men must repress who they are, shut down emotionally, and never go soft or weak, or in any way let on that you are an actual, you know, a person, a potential friend.
I’ve coined this concept “predators and prey,” oddly an idea first coined by feminism. Men are all predators. Women are all prey. Toxic masculinity for men, perpetual victimhood for women. Except we are not simple creatures of biology, and that is so reductionist, just an extreme example of stinking thinking gone all awry, that completely leaves out the part about us actually being, spiritual beings having freewill.
So some of the language being used to describe the alleged problem of sexual tension that prevents all men everywhere from ever being friends with any woman anywhere, was very revealing, “a powder keg, a loaded gun, a potential explosion.” Good grief! We’re teaching people that relationships between men and women are like potential mass murder, unstable nitroglycerin, sure to lead to accidental death? That is just rampant hyperbole and fear.
This concept of predators and prey is also not biblical at all because in Jesus Christ we are a new creation. If your thinking is stinking, then you need to change it. We are supposed to be engaged in the process of renewing our minds. Aren’t we supposed to be, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
We are. It says so.
So I’m a big fan of boundaries, of being honest with oneself, of being honest with God. I think Aimee is too, and I think she understands the need for sexual boundaries between men and women. I think what she is really talking about is not so much literal relationships, but “why can’t we be friends,” meaning emotional and spiritual friends, where men and women do not perceive one another as “predators and prey” but rather as brothers and sisters in Christ, kind of just like the bible tells us to do.
That happens to also be very healthy for men.