The classic argument about whether men and women can be friends is encapsulated (humorously) in When Harry Met Sally. We’re still having the same argument that they were.
A lot of people ask why it seems common for men of faith to fall into adultery.
While I don’t fully know the answer, I believe many pastors and other Christian men are at a higher risk for moral failure because they do not know how to have healthy relationships with women who are not their wives.
With a lack of understanding of how to have healthy relationships, the result is either no relationship at all or an unhealthy one that leads to emotional or physical barriers being crossed. I believe there’s a middle ground to be found.
Paul gives some of the only biblical instruction on platonic relationships to Timothy: “Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity” (1 Timothy 5:1-2).
We are in a family together, which means the “no relationship” model isn’t biblical. It also shows that our relationships should be ones that protect the family as a whole. A sibling relationship implies the ability to relate to one another and the ability to joke, laugh and share on some level.
Please hear what I am saying, protecting our marriages is of the utmost importance and boundaries are important in any relationship.
I respect, and am a firm believer in, the general rules we put in place as Christians: Never ride alone in a car with a man, never meet behind closed doors with a man, watch what you wear and say, etc.
Luckily, I work for a church where we have safe environments to collaborate, grow as a team, and have fun. I’m happy to be in a gospel-centered church where, regardless of any uneasy situations, we’re striving to be balanced, respectful people who are always growing.
Over the years, I have dodged a number awkward conversations. Just because a person is a woman does not mean you can’t have a conversation with her or get to know her. Come on guys, don’t flatter yourselves! She’s NOT into you!
I love my husband. Actually, that’s an understatement. I’m crazy about him. I think about him all day. I bring his name up in nearly every conversation I have. I respect him.
While I have a marriage built on a solid foundation, I’m not naïve enough to believe that we are untouchable by sin and human error. We have to protect it. I also value the other women in his life. But my husband is also not exempt from this conversation. Other women make him nervous and uncomfortable. This conversation sends him running in the opposite direction. 😉
As a pastor, I imagine you feel the same way about your wife and marriage. But I go to work everyday to an office where my peers are almost exclusively men. I must find a way to navigate through this. I have needed to navigate a bit of sexism, some awkward situations, and a few careful conversations. I get the sense that some of the men I have worked with find my very presence to be a threat to their purity.
Some of you may be thinking, “Well, yes, that’s not ideal. But is this really the problem? Does that sort of awkwardness put people at risk for affairs?”