"One way the church has contributed to this problem is to make relationships between men and women only legitimate when romance/sex is a possibility. We've made freindship, or even the simple act of riding in a car, or eating a meal together seem unsafe for people who might be married/dating but not with each other.Interesting article, actually. Be sure to check it out and let me know what you think.
"Posted by: Jennifer at November 10, 2011"
I've talked about this before (this post comes to mind), and I thought that the book Singled Out (about the need to reinvent celibacy in the modern church) touched on it decently without really offering any ideas about how things should look, especially for people like me who aren't searching for a mate.
I'm in the early stages of what I'm calling an experiment in brotherhood, where I am cautiously becoming good friends with a male, which has resulted in many of his friends asking tiresome and typical questions, which he relates to me with a certain amount of glee. And a certain amount of wonder because he admits that he has never had a serious relationship with an adult woman he has not, on some level, wanted to sleep with. He related this to me late at night while we were sitting in a car (possibly after spending some time eating together in a cafe).
Our relationship apparently started no differently, and he tells me he still has to deal with tamping down expectations that rise up sometimes out of his back-brain, but he has come to terms with the fact that I will never desire him that way, and we are cautiously trying to figure out what it means to be friends in a fallen world.
He is very honest, and I find myself concluding that this kind of relationship would definitely be impossible for me to have with a man who belonged to a conservative, non-mainline Protestant denomination because there is no way he would be this honest. Probably he would also be looking so desperately for a spouse that he would have no time to waste on cultivating a relationship with a celibate sister in Christ. And neither of us would be able to survive the gossip for long.
Why are so many of us so fake around the people we should be the most real around? In the church, we're all people who know we fall short, people who know we are sinners who deserve nothing but eternal punishment but have been inexplicably granted eternal life and love and so much grace. Why, surrounded by such people, are we so likely to try so hard to hide ourselves and our sins and failures? Why can't we have real relationships, brothers and sisters who love each other and care for each other? Why can we only legitimately "love" our spouses deeply enough to sacrifice for them?
It's a good thing Jesus didn't care about these constraints, even if they were present in His culture.
Well, I'll be rambling about similar things again soon, no doubt. Until then, the experiment continues.