Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Just Friends? [Man and Woman Friendships]

 

There is much to say about a man and woman being friends. I believe the best way to deal with this subject is to clearly define what it means to be a friend and what it means to be relational. Let’s begin with what it means to be a friend.

Friendship is built on commonality and communication. Friends grow a deep bond based on what they agree on, whom they believe in, and what they stand for. A friendship can blossom between two different people from different economic and social backgrounds. Their bond can be based on what they have in common. I also believe God will knit two souls together for a purpose. The greatest thing about friendship is the honor the friends have, or should have, for one another. A “friend” is “one who loves.” S/he is a companion, a comrade, and a neighbor. There are times when s/he is called a brother, a mother, a child—terms referring to those who share a strong bond outside the blood-family. I believe the close relationship between David and Saul’s son, Jonathan, is a great example of true friendship (1 Samuel 18:1, 3; 20:17; 2 Samuel 1:26). Friendship is not limited to people. The Bible also speaks about our friendship with God. Scripture records Jesus calling his friends those who follow His commands (John 15:14). Friendship comes with standards and our friends can tell us a lot about ourselves. We usually do not attract those we want to be around; we oftentimes attract those who greatly resemble who we are. There is so much I could go over about friendship, but I will stop there.

Marriage Retreat 2015

I believe we as the Church could do a better job being relational. HOWEVER, I do understand the kind of society we live in today. The same sin that existed years ago still exists today. It has not morphed; it is still sin and punishable by death. Writing this makes me so thankful for Jesus and His obedience. Nevertheless, we live in a hedonistic society. A hedonist is one who lives his or her life in pursuit of self-gratification, pleasure, and happiness. He wants whatever he wants, and he does not care how he obtains it. We live in the eat it, drink it, smoke it, have sex with it, and throw-it-way society. The mentality of most is: “You do not like your marriage anymore? Just throw it away! You tired of your children? Just throw them away! You do not want to keep the baby you lusted over another person to create? Just kill him! He is not a “human” anyway!” We lack a respect for people and true reverence for God. Our society flashes sex in our face throughout the day. The perversion in our world has gone so far to totally pervert true love. Many believe love allows anything. That is not true. Love can bear anything (1 Corinthians 13:7), but it does not allow everything. Love is discipline; it is truth; it is orderly; it is light; it is faithful. Love does not fail.

I’ve sat down with couples that wanted to end their relationship because “they fell out of love.” I was confused when I first heard the saying. People have learned to treat love like it is a ditch. They treat it like they were pushed in the ditch by someone and they no longer want to be in it because they are no longer getting their way. That kind of thinking and action is a stench to God’s nostrils!

What does all of this have to do with guys and girls being friends, Cornelius? I am glad you asked. First, we must be careful whom we call our friends. It is a term of honor and respect. Everyone should not get it. Secondly, men and women who are not married should not seek to grow a deep bond with one another unless they are working towards marriage. Thirdly, the concept of love must play a big factor in the relationship. Love is not something you fall into; it grows in you. It develops over time. Friendship is built on commonality and communication. The bigger of the two is communication. It is the wood that feeds the flames of friendship. Communication keeps the fire hot and keeps the relationship fresh. The man and woman who continues to converse feeds one another by giving one another a very precious treasure—their words from their heart. The mouth only speaks with the heart is full of (Matthew 12:34). Conversation is the giving of one another’s words, which is the exchange of one another’s heart. Remember that love is not something you fall into; it grows in you. It grows as you continue to feed it. And you feed it through intimacy. How is conversation intimate? It is the exchange of words from the heart. The man and woman are literally allowing for the other person to go “in to me and see” (in-ti-ma-cy) what is hidden in his/her heart. That is DANGEROUS.

Singles Retreat 2015

I am married now, so the idea of having female friends is out of the question. And I am fine with it. There is only one woman I give my heart—which is the giving of my words—and she is my wife. Does this mean I cannot be cordial with other women in saying “hello” or answering simple questions? Absolutely not. However, I will send women to my wife or other female leaders at our church for them to speak with the women. I do not have private meetings with women. It is out of the question. I have been in situations where I thought I could keep my friendship with a woman completely normal. She was like one of the guys to me. (Women all over the world who have ever felt like "one of the guys" just rolled their eyes at that statement. LOL!) We laughed and hung out together all the time. I spoke to her multiple times a day. I told her about all of my relationships. She hated to hear about things going great. She would oftentimes encourage me to break up with someone at the slightest offense. We developed a very close bond for years. Then that dreaded day came. I was taking her home one day, and she looked over at me. She had on makeup, which was something she did not always do. She even had on a dress, which was not normal for her. She looked at me and said, a type of affection that is non-sexual and innocent. I assured her—in the meanest way possible—that I did not want to be with her. Yes, I was a major jerk back then. That ruined our relationship. Years later, I had to think about what transpired. She was simply basing her feelings off of what I was giving to her, which was complete transparency and total intimacy. Honestly, I was wrong for giving her so much attention and leading her astray. I occupied the place in her life that was meant for a man who was willing to cherish, honor, and respect her in marriage. I needed to either step up to the plate or get out of the way. She did not deserve the emotional abuse and torment in thinking I was interested in anything more than using her for her company and listening ear. I needed to take my troubles and cares to God and wise men who were able to hold me accountable and challenge me to mature. I was allowing her in my most intimate place. I was wrong--very wrong. I would love to cite ignorance as my excuse, but I simply ignored small occurrences where it was obvious she was "catching feelings" and "growing in love" with me. That friendship ended my trying to be friends with women. I had to learn that someone will always grow in love as the conversation continues and words from the heart are exchanged. You will grow in love with whatever or whoever you are around the most. The experienced sinners--if there is such a thing--are those who spend a great deal of time around and in it. Anyone who hangs out with trash long enough will begin to stink, and they will begin to believe the awful smell is normal the longer they are around it. “[Cornelius] I really love you.” I said, “Umm…I love you too.” Her eyes got big. She smiled real hard. Then she said, “Oh, really! Because I want to be with you.” I almost ran the car off the road. My love for her was clearly platonic—

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I encourage men to communicate and talk with other men--mature men who can challenge, rebuke, and encourage them (1 Peter 5:5). I encourage women to communicate and converse with wise and mature women (Titus 2:3-5). My best friend, who is a guy, can relate with my struggles and issues as a man. He understands what I mean when I say I am scared of failing as a man, that I am tired of leading others, or that I am tired of always being the strong shoulder to lean on. He understands my plight(s) mainly because he has the same emotions, concerns, and fears. Befriend the same sex and be cordial with the opposite sex. But Cornelius, how will I meet my significant other? Is God not able to act and move without your interruption? I believe He is. He did not need you when He created the world, so it is safe to assume He does not need your constant going ahead of Him to engage someone He did not present to you. A courtship blooms because God presents a man and woman together and knits their hearts into one. He opens the eyes of the sleeping Adam and awakens love in the woman at the appropriate time. Do not allow anyone to tell you differently.

To read more about this subject and more on relationships, be sure to purchase my books from www.corneliuslindsey.com or by searching my name on www.amazon.com. God bless you!

Cornelius' Books

7 comments:

  1. Wow.... This is nice. Simple yet deep.
    you are indeed blessed.

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  2. Straight from my heart. I couldnt stress this more...

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  3. Amen! Thanks for the hard but wise words brother.

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  4. I'm single and I recently ended my friendship with a man who i thought was my best friend. Long story short, everything became extremely difficult and confusing. At the beginning of our friendship we would feel so close! But as time went by it merely felt like we spoke 2 different languages.
    Today i spent some time with Our Father, and i kept thinking: "Lord, i get it now. The only man i can be best friend with is my future husband. Period point blank. Thinking i could be just friends with a guy without any consequence was a big mistake.

    Cornelius, thank you for the confirmation. It's God sent.

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  5. This post is God sent! Thank you for the confirmation Cornelius.

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  6. Beautifully honest. Learning to guard your heart is difficult, but sitting in the chair across from your best friend as he/she says "No, I don't love you that way" is even more difficult. So thanks for writing this!

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  7. Nicely articulated. This is an issue I have had to deal with for a while, so I can totally relate to it so I just have to admit that I just can't be friends with the opposite sex

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