I will begin this first post by outlining three important things I think are necessary to understand if God-honoring friendships between guys and girls are going to work. They are the following:
- Desire. Women have a strong attraction towards men. It's part of who we are. It's how God made us. Period.
- Downfall. Sin has taken that desire of ours and twisted it to make our desire predatory, selfish, and sinful.
- Duty. Christ's atonement on the cross provides us with a way to take that messed-up desire we have and use it to glorify God. As daughters of God, we have a duty to perform towards our brothers.
First of all, if you haven't figured it out yet (which I highly doubt), women have, to say the least, an interest in men. This it the desire part. This interest is instilled in us from birth, and only seems, to our dismay, to intensify during the teen years. It is important to understand that this strong interest in men is how God made us. In fact, we learn about it within the first few chapters of Genesis. God "caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man."(Genesis 2:21-22)
Man was formed from the dust, but woman had her origin and being from man and for man. "Woman is the glory of man," says 1 Corinthians 11:7-9. "For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man." From the beginning, men were our business. The plan was that men and women together would reflect the image of God. It's (Not That) Complicated, pg. 17When God created us from a man, our interest in him was part of His plan. He meant for us to glorify Him together. So perhaps the fact that we were taken from man's side is the reason for our inherent interest in them. We don't feel complete without them.
This interest in, or desire for men is what God created us with. In the beginning, it was a pure, innocent interest in them. A God-given, God-ordained interest that was pure and born out of a passion to glorify God. An interest that would result in union that would be powerful and potent in the kingdom of God. As we shall see, though, it wasn't so simple (or pure) for long...
Unfortunately, as soon as sin entered the world, this beautiful picture was severely distorted. Think Monet masterpiece scandalized by teenage graffiti artist. Not so pretty. Since men and women were created with differences, the harmony that was in place at the dawn of the world was shattered. Immediately, the woman wanted to be in control – defying the authority of the man. Enter feminism. Immediately, young men and women found themselves in a complicated mess of relationships – aggressive, boy-crazy girls and physical-obsessed boys, both of which wanted only to satisfy selfish desires.
This is a post aimed at girls, so I'll point out a few things that sin did to us. All of these things I've discovered in myself. Our interest turned into an obsession. We let boys rule our lives. We spent our time chasing after their attention and affection. Instead of chasing our true love, Christ, we became distracted and absorbed in our interest with boys. The beautiful attraction God created within us was ruined... or was it? (I'm not sure what's with the suspenseful endings on these sections.)
Thankfully for us, God had a plan to remedy all that. When Jesus died and erased our sins, we once again had a chance to make this relationship thing work. Now we have a blueprint for them – the Bible, and a helper – the Holy Spirit. While before, our question was, "how can I win the approval of man", now our question can be, "how can I win the approval of God". The latter has got to be the foundation of why we even try to build godly friendships with young men. Otherwise, we're going to mess it up. We can harness our interest in young men to build them up in Christ, or we can let our interest turn into an obsession that hurts both them and us. We can be sisters to them instead of boy-crazy monsters out to win their affection. We can have friendships with them that are strong, healthy, god-glorifying, and pure instead of having fake friendships based on selfish desires. Through Christ, all of these things are possible – and we should do them out of love for Him.
I guess I never really realized how interaction, specifically God-honoring interaction, is actually our duty as daughters of God. That is, until I read It's (Not That) Complicated. I want to highlight a few of their key notes on why we should love our brothers:
We're not excused from our relationship to our Christian brothers because we are girls and they are boys and we present risks to each other's purity. Rather, we're told how it should be done: First, we need to have our souls purified "by [our] obedience to the truth"; then we need to love them earnestly from our pure hearts. No buts about it.
Our fundamental point of this book is that all Christians (of all genders and ages) have duties to one another. The goal is not only to solve our boy problems, but to pass the tests of every relationships God brings us, with their attendant opportunities and responsibilities. To "through love, serve one another." (Gal. 5:13) To "encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing." (1 Thess. 5:11) To be a good witness for Christ, for "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35) To "pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding." (Rom. 14:19) To "Outdo one another in showing honor." (Rom. 12:10) To use our gifts to "serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace." (1 Pet. 4:10)
Too often we assume these verses are just for old and responsible people, like parents. We often tend to cut ourselves a special break because we're young, thinking that somehow free-spirited young people are a different category of person before God. But the Bible doesn't say, "You senior citizens, love each other from a pure heart. Youth and singles, you can't be expected to do more than have a good time and make some mistakes. You'll grow out of it." If we truly have been grafted into God's family, we need to see ourselves as full-fledged members of the Body of Christ now, sharing equally in the Christian duties to "Let no one despise [us] for [our] youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity" (1 Tim. 4:12)... (all of the above from It's (Not That) Complicated - pg. 13)And so finally we realize the duty we have to our brothers in Christ. We can't limit God's command "love your neighbor as yourself" only to our girlfriends or only to the sweet little orphans in Africa. God makes no allowance for us to limit His command to a certain group of people. When He says neighbor, that means boys, too. And let's remember why we're doing this, again. The desire to do what God commands – in this instance, it's loving others – should come from a passion to serve Him because of what He has done for us. The reason why we are to love our neighbors at all should be born out of a deep, undying gratitude to the One who took our place – who loves us at our unloveliest (sorry, spellcheck) moments. If we are loving for any other reason, it is in vain. It must be powered by an outpouring of awe in and gratitude for His unthinkable gift.
- As women, we have an intrinsic interest in men. They've been on our minds since Eve was taken from Adam's side. This interest is God-given and, at the dawn of the world, God-glorifying. Rather than a bad thing, we must realize that God gave us this interest (interest, not obsession with) in men.
- As soon as sin entered the world, the boy vs. girl scenario got a whole lot more complicated. Now, instead of a pure interest in men, we became boy-crazy girls out to have fun and satisfy our selfish desires, whether it was God-glorifying or not.
- When Christ came, we were given a new anthem. His radical message included the command to love our neighbors. And there weren't exceptions (read: guys). As daughters of the King, it is our duty to encourage our brothers in Christ and to strengthen them. This calling is a high one – one we cannot do without Christ's help. Let us call on His Name that we may become radiant, selfless women of God who are unafraid to love our neighbors, whoever they may be and however hard it seems. That is nothing less than our gratitude for God's gift requires.