Notes for Aimee
RE Rats Nest of a Situation (Review/Chapter 3/Why Can’t We Be Friends?) Pastor Wilson writes: “‘Do we express our love for one another by not being friends?’ (Loc. 803). Again, note the we. And I would suggest that the answer to this question is yes. Avoidance of friendship can be a true act of koinonia love, and frequently is.” Yes! Yes, we do. We express our love for one another by not being friends. And we also express our love for our wives by not being friends. That is not to say not being ‘friendly.’ That is not to say completely ignoring the wife-half of the visiting couple while sharing a meal at the dinner table. But it is to say that a married man should not engage in a deep emotional friendship with a single or married woman. (Unless it his own wife, then by all means . . .). And that advice is chiefly to the block-head guys, but I think it is no different than my advice would be to the ladies. A wife should drink water from her own cistern as well.
I submit that you and I are very good friends. I think that I know you quite well as I can quote you on many subjects. Additionally, I know that we share the same views on just about everything. The fact that I have never met you in person is irrelevant to the friendship. There is one thing however; all of this friendship has taken place within full view of my husband and everyone else who reads your posts. You are one of many male friends that I have. But I can live without those friendships. My husband truly fills the bill for me. I do have another observation about biblical relationships. We are commanded to care for widows and orphans. Would not Aimee’s time be better served by seeking relationships with widowed senior citizens—visiting the sick—in other words, being more concerned with the needs of those who have lost a spouse and have no one? BTW, I hope the math tests required to submit a comment don’t get too difficult or some of us will be out.
Melody, I appreciate the kind words.
Re: stereotypical manners? To put it in liberal terms, you could almost say Aimee is “womansplaining” lust.
Ryan, you could almost say that, and you also could say that.
I think we do have needs for human connections that our spouses can’t be expected to satisfy. That is the joy of same sex friendships. A husband may be willing to reassure you once that your haircut wasn’t a disaster; your woman friend is willing to talk about it until you feel okay. A non-athletic wife may do her best to care about the point spread for the weekend football game, but her husband might have more enjoyable conversations about it with the guys. When I was married, I enjoyed talking with our male friends, but these conversations typically took place in the presence of their wives as well. A deeply fulfilling conversation in which I feel my emotional or spiritual needs are being met is probably one that I shouldn’t be having with any man I’m not married to. And a conversation that would make my husband or his wife feel uneasy if they heard it is already over the line. I think this highly spiritualized view of human relationships doesn’t take into account the insidious nature of attacks on our fidelity. Very few practicing Christians set out to commit adultery, betray their spouses, and potentially destroy two marriages. Temptation comes in tiny increments, so seemingly harmless that we don’t hear the distant hoof beats of the herald bearing news of disaster. Wanting to have a private chat with Joe because the two of you share the same sense of humor turns into noticing that your own husband is not very funny. You’ve become disloyal long before you become adulterous, and you might not even notice what you’ve done. And if you notice that Joe’s wife is looking worried and you don’t care how she feels, you’re already piling up the sins against charity.
Jill, that phrase of yours—“temptation comes in tiny increments”—is gold.
Sir, in your review of Byrd’s book, you observed that “Another thing she has mentioned a few times is that ‘meeting all your relational needs’ is a heavy demand to place on a spouse.” Is that not what friends of the same gender are for? I agree my wife can’t (nor shouldn’t) be expected to meet all my relational needs, that is why I have other (male) friends, the kind I meet with often at lunch, often one-on-one, over some cider or the like. Not having the inclination nor time to read her book at present, but is she really suggesting that I should be just as quick to regularly and routinely invite a particular woman (other than my wife) out to an extended lunch for a few hours of some good solid one-on-one fellowship, the same as I do with my male friends? From your response to her work, this seems to be the logical implication of the path she is laying; or do I misinterpret?
Daniel, I hope she would be nervous about that, but I don’t see how—given the premises she is laying down—she consistently could be.
This whole male-female friendship thing kills me. Before I married my wife, I had formed several close friendships with young women. This was during the AIM text days, and most of these friendships were long distance through that or similar mediums. In every one of them there was always the subtext underneath of “is this the one I will marry?” and in every one of them it went into emotional over-commitment, sometimes on my part but more often on the young lady’s part. Looking back now, I honestly think I was predatory in this, becoming close friends, never physically inappropriate (except for when I was, then the sin was clear). My relationship with my wife started the same way, but thankfully her father guarded her better and made me make the choice to essentially fish or cut bait. Now those “friendships” that were so close have all vanished, with only a few even remaining Facebook friends. And I think that’s a good thing. Hopefully I can keep my children from engaging in the same foolish behavior.
B, thank you. One good guardrail on this whole subject is parents with a good memory.
“But I do think he has to tease back. He has to stand his ground.” What is the ethical argument for this? You are saying that teasing is an act of aggression, and teasing back is an act of self-defense? But what about the fact that teasing is not actually an act of aggression? Or is it that custom dictates that a certain amount of teasing back and forth will voluntarily not be treated as aggression for the purpose of creating familiarity and establishing trust? But in that case, your firmness is not a defense so much as a means of disclosing your internal features to another person and making yourself less of an unknown quantity. Or is your example specific to young men developing the ability to think and function under stress, without resorting to aggression or appealing to others to solve their problems? There is obvious utility in such a practice, but that is irrelevant if it is unethical. If you do not tease back, you become the target of all the teasing and you become resentful at the world. But teasing back effectively requires thinking thoughts like, “How can I mess with so-and-so?” and Proverbs is full of cautions against plotting against your neighbor. Teasing back solves the problem of not letting the sun go down on your anger, but the solution seems to be: take revenge immediately. Teasing back as a show of force is a tit-for-tat response that can escalate indefinitely into cycles of vengeance, but it is a man’s glory to overlook an offense. What does turning the other cheek mean, if it does not refer to insults?
Anthony, what I meant by “teasing back” was one example (out of a number of possible ones) of standing your ground. If the quarterback teases the president of the chess club, the president of the chess club does not have to respond by going out for the football team. He does not have to duplicate the quarterback’s masculinity. But he does have to figure out how to respond in some masculine way. Teasing back, not caring, etc.
Just a general question, Doug. What can you tell about a man by how he takes his coffee? Thanks,
Marcus, just none of those foofy creamers.
If hydrogen atoms were keeping your airship afloat, then one would hope that, if they had an occasion to associate with Oxygen atoms, that they would mind their manners.
Danny, yes, one would hope.
As usual, thankful for your thoughts here Pastor Wilson, Maybe this is already your trajectory with your comment, “When the situation is a sexual one, men have to deal with the devil, and not with some holistic paradise. Perhaps I can develop this further in a future installment,” but I am just curious if you know of any resources or would be able to provide an clarity regarding friendship between men and women who are not married in the church. I think there is much work to be done in establishing the good male/male, female/female relationships that glorify God in a non-Revoice manner. Obviously, David and Jonathan were very close. Ruth and Naomi/Mara the same. We most certainly needn’t place sexual connotations there, because there aren’t any. However, what do healthy relationships look like in these scenarios that don’t involve bundling? If a friend sticks closer than a brother then there will be much good intimacy completely separate from sexual perversion. So, I’d like to see those matters developed more, as to this point the rhetoric is concentrated in pointing out the flaws and masquerade of Revoice and this is of course, rightfully so. However, in calling brothers/sisters in this camp away from where they are going we should be calling them to something. In the same way with Byrd here it is certainly true that a man must do whatever is possible to honor the marriage bed and keep it undefiled as both a single man and a married man. I agree with the “Billy Graham” rule and find it to be scriptural. In light of this, like the question regarding what to say people from the Revoice camp should pursue, what goals/ambitions/expectations should men have for women not their wives. Paul commands Titus to treat them as sisters in all purity. I’m just interested in hearing what you (and the many other faithful brothers I have been reading regarding such matters recently) would say treating sisters in all purity looks like outside of just avoiding them because you want to stare at their chest? For some avoidance is the only option potentially. But, that can’t be true of everyone.
Michael, thanks. Unfortunately, there is not a lot on this. I would recommend starting with Lewis, The Four Loves particularly.
(Re “When Aimee Met Harry and Sally”) So what does a brother/sister relationship look like with non-related fellow church members? I agree that it doesn’t look like me breaking bread with Brother Bob one-on-one, but what does it look like that’s any different from a cordial relationship with a neighbor? Can you write more comparing and contrasting brothers and sisters in Christ and literal brothers and sisters? I’m trying to work this out not only where opposite-sex relationships are concerned, but also where same-sex friendships are concerned (not in a Revoiceish way, but in a normal Christian friendship context). God gave us these familial words for the body of Christ, but explanations often eviscerate their familial-ness. For instance, I’ve heard the word “professional” to describe the tone relationships should have between men and women in the church, but “professional” is exactly what a brother-sister relationship isn’t. Between these two kinds of siblings, the affection isn’t the same, the intimacy isn’t the same, the time investment isn’t the same, the obligation isn’t the same, etc. So what is there that makes the terms “brother” and “sister” meaningful? What, that is, more than some vague spiritual pie-in-the-sky sense? What difference does having the same Father (God) and mother (the Church) make in the way we relate to one another that warrants calling us brothers and sisters rather than merely allies or compatriots or co-workers or neighbors? What may I expect from my brothers and sisters in the church, and how am I to be a sister to them? I may be mushing together a couple of different questions here, but I trust you’ll sort out what I’m trying to get at. Thanks!
Kyriosity, these are great questions. I suspect the answer is corporate or communal, but I do need to work on it in more detail.
Let me say really quickly, longish-time fan, first time emailer. I believe I have profited much from my interactions with your writing, though I oftentimes don’t go all the way with your arguments. I have decided to come out as a moderate to all of my Christian friends and family over the past several years, so I appreciate your hard lines, but struggle to toe them as well as maybe I should. I wanted to comment on your recent essays on women, men, relationships, #MeToo, etc. I’ll make this quick: there is a fundamental flaw with the way many are approaching the issue of men being falsely accused. I think it is a dissidence of scale, not substance. I’ll butcher an analogy to make my point. I (and everyone should) agree that every man who suffers repercussions from false accusations of sexual misconduct is a tragedy. I also agree that men need to take steps to make sure they cannot be falsely accused, so the Pence Rule is not inherently bad in my book. That all being said, every women who experiences sexual harassment, in all its various forms is also a tragedy. Now here comes the illustration. All tragedies are wretched, but not all are equal. The shooting in Las Vegas last year was a horrific event, but the Holocaust was something in a whole different ball park. I believe we will see on the next side of eternity that the scale of female sexual harassment far out-classes the amount of Josephs in the world. This doesn’t mean that Joseph isn’t worth standing up for, it’s just we don’t want to allow a holocaust to continue in order to avoid another Las Vegas shooting. I wonder if that makes any sense, and since I appreciate your reasoning skills I am sure you have considered this, but I wanted to reach out and give some thoughts. Have a great day!
Austin, yes, I take your point. And for the sake of the argument, let us say that women having to put up with crap makes up 80% of these situations, and falsely accused men the remaining 20%. Obviously, we want the whole thing discouraged, so that the amount of heartache is greatly reduced. And to do that, we need to fight for the rule of law. If we fight for men, we will just grow the 80%. If we fight for women, we will just grow the 20%. We need to fight for God’s law—He knows best how to restrain us.
As a fallen man redeemed in Christ and as a husband and father of now-grown women and men, I thank you for the “wisdom from above” dispensed in this article. When my son was younger, and as a result of the temptations that I had been prone to as a man, in teaching my son both to avoid and resist temptation of that sort and others I gave him a short-hand for what is now known and derided as the Pence Rule. It had made my own walk of repentance far easier. My catch phrase was: “If you don’t stand on the railroad tracks, you cannot possibly be hit by the train. Now let’s talk about what the railroad tracks look like . . .” Both Aimee Byrd’s view and that of the adherents of Revoice is, as you have said so well, like touching the fork to the meat but not sticking it in. Harry was so right.
Jim, thank you.
I’ve always applied the thought of treating men as brothers in Christ (with regard to my actions) this way . . . “Would I want this married woman (me, if I wasn’t his blood sister) hanging around my married brother?” Which always would result in the answer no.
Laura, exactly. Nope, nope, nope.
A charitable, unvarnished, needed conversation indeed! Women would like to deny masculinity, while it suits them, then they turn on it like a pack of wolves over a deer. (Perhaps that was more unvarnished than charitable.) Take 2: Women would like to think that there are semi-platonic, asexual relationships between men and women, as brothers and sisters, because they fundamentally misunderstand the visual nature and sexual drive that God gave to men. Women are capable of these relationships—relationships without some type of “sexual” desire. Harry, had a point though . . . men, not so much. Perhaps only men can comprehend their own depravity of thought. Instead of acknowledging and enjoying the differences in God’s design of male and female, AB wants to reduce masculinity to some form of polite, tea drinking femininity and “all just get along,” until there’s some egregious sin. As a husband, if a waitress smiles at me, you can feel the white hot rage of a thousand suns being formed in my wife’s belly. What’s wrong with jealously guarding our families? Yes, there’s a ditch where one can take that too far, but this concept of men and women in the workplace together isn’t centuries old, it should be noted. When Ray Rice beat up his girlfriend in the elevator, should we have thought of it as an MMA match between two equals? No. Why not? Because men and women are different, they have different roles to play and responsibilities to the other. It’s great that women grow up playing nice with one another, dressing up dolls and declaring cuteness over all things (puppies, babies, drapes, outfits, hair, shoes, table settings, etc…) Guys want to smash cars into each other, shoot exploding targets, jump off of high platforms, run faster, be stronger, slay dragons, etc. In the throes of this sexual revolution, AB should be grateful that women, though they decry it, are still afforded any protection by males whom everyone recognizes train to be, have some innate desire to be and certainly can be, destructive. There’s a proper object to a male’s destructive nature and the female is not one. That set of guardrails isn’t being defended well in American society, and AB would be wise to not further assault them. I would happily welcome AB to the ranks of former feminists who decries the war on boys (link) and all things masculine. From Wilson’s reporting, she’s not taking up that mantle.
Ron, man. There were at least six thought felonies in that.
On a Wife Leaving
Letter to A Wife Who Wants to Leave Her Husband: Giving advice like this without hearing both sides of the story is ministerial malpractice . . . Recognizing this piece is a fictional scenario for the purpose of sussing out the edge case, it still appears to me that the only sin of the husband that you defined was “domestic tyrant,” and that is so vague I think you’ve probably erred on the side of encouraging “frivorce” because the wife isn’t happy. Many women who are vaguely unhappy will read this and draw from it encouragement and justification to leave instead of cleave. “You know that you need to leave your husband, but you don’t want to find yourself leaving God behind also. You know that your husband is behaving like a domestic tyrant, and so leaving him seems straightforward.”
Ken, I granted in the letter that some might take this as a license for leaving when they ought to be 1 Peter 3ing it. But there is also the situation, unfortunately not rare, of wives tolerating treatment that no one should ever have to put up with. And don’t’ forget the point made by the runaway slave law. Strictly speaking, that is not “hearing both sides” either.
Re: On a Wife Deciding to Leave Her Husband. Thank you for this. When I read it, I immediately forwarded it to my wife and said “You have to read this. This is totally ______ and _____! This is so helpful!” She completely agreed. While some may see this as an outlandish scenario, it describes almost to a “T” what our friend is experiencing. Her husband has been manipulative, controlling, emotionally and physically abusive, including to the children. But all behind closed doors. He refuses counseling, denying everything. Their church is siding with him, believing his lies and refusing to investigate her claims without him present. My wife (who has a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling) has personally observed behavior changes in this woman and her children (it’s a blended family), including Class A isolation tactics by the husband (so we’re not just taking the wife’s accusations for granted). Your explanation of why this woman has the right to leave her husband is just what she needs to live at peace with her decision. Thank you! Your biblical defense of this woman and her right to leave, balanced against her inability to obtain justice this side of heaven (because of a lack of objective witnesses) and the resulting restriction that she cannot remarry, is so refreshing in a church culture that rushes to sweep these situations under the rug and try to “protect the church.” Sorry, guys, it’s not the church you’re protecting. But in the same breath, she is not a free woman. I’ve enjoyed so much of your writing. And your satire and wit. Few Christian authors make me laugh out loud and convict my soul on the same page. You often do that in the same sentence. I love it. You are a blessing to me and to my family. Blessings to you.
John, thanks very much.
On a Wife Deciding to Leave . . . I had hoped someone else would ask this question. If it is commanded not to return a slave why did Paul return Onesimus to Philemon? Was that a special circumstance since they were both Christians and Onesimus had repented?
Nicholas, my thinking is that once Onesimus was converted, it became clear that Philemon had not been mistreating him. It was the other way around. Onesimus had wronged Philemon by “taking the silver,” or whatever it was.
Re: The Susan Theory. Do you think Lewis intentionally left the door open to narratival possibilities such as yours? Or are you just fixing Lewis’s literary gaffe through loopholes he didn’t close? I like the answer you’ve given, but I just can’t find any reason to read Jill and Polly’s descriptions of Susan with a winking suspicion. It seems like you have to find fault with the “Craftsman” somewhere— either for Susan’s apostasy without laying the seeds, or for writing Jill and Polly’s suspect words without any clues that they are actually suspect.
Bryce, most reasonable question. I think Jill and Polly are giving a very accurate assessment of Susan’s current spiritual condition. But the way they are speaking does not indicate to me that they are talking about someone teetering on the brink of a final apostasy. They think Susan is being silly, not that she has gone over to Tash.
I wrote a response to Emeth’s presence in Aslan’s country and how it relates to missionary work (I am a Bible translator) here: I would be interested in your thoughts.
Excellent post. Thank you!
Chadd, thanks much.
Re: The Salvation of Susan Pevensie Some day Susan will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.
Jig (may I call you Jig?), exactly so.
I like your parsing of the story line and consider your thesis reasonable, Pastor Wilson. It does seem most likely that Susan remains living in the shadowlands and not unreasonable that she will eventually repent and enter Narnian glory on her death. But I propose another possibility, for the apostasy of Susan to me reads as natural and appropriate. There was always that hint in her of unbelief. I propose that the fourth throne is filled by a new, more faithful queen. This is the way it worked for the twelve “thrones”—if you will—of the apostles. There had to be twelve. But one fell away. So another was chosen to take his place. I’d nominate Jill.
Alexander, thanks. But that seems way too arbitrary to me. It is not that final apostasy is impossible in Narnia, but rather that I think Lewis would have prepped it better.
Dat Ol’ Debbel Calvinism
“But to take this up to a larger scale doesn’t really solve any of our ruffled-free-will-feather problems. If you were a devotee of free will, would you feel better if somebody told you that God had only predestined that the airliner would crash, not that the passengers would?” Except that this makes all the difference! To follow on from your analogy: Rahab could see that Jericho Airlines was headed for disaster. And by faith she asked to fly Air Israel. The problem was that some Israelites thought that their seat was secured but it wasn’t. Access to Father Flights must depart via the Jesus Salvation Authority (JSA) which, again, is by faith.
Bethyada, way to wrest the analogy from my hand, and turn it on me! But ha, ha! Edom Air is already at 30,000 feet, and there were children born on the flight. What about them? They can’t be back at the airport. Not everyone can be born on the ground.
Still Circling the Drain
A particularly nauseating article about an art installation/ wedding chapel in Seattle. More letters to add. “Carter: We specialize in spiritually and “legally binding” weddings—whatever that means. If you don’t want to get legally married but you want to get spiritually married, we offer that. As a queer person who’s getting gay married in three days, I’ve been hearing a lot of stuff. People say, ‘If you can get gay married, what’s stopping you from marrying your horse? I say bring the horse! I think it’s wrong that queers can get married but people can’t marry horses.”
MT, reality is currently three steps ahead of all the logicians and satirists.
Loving the Standard
Mostly random here, but I suppose it relates to this post since you mention Old Testament law. You’re statement a while back that our goal as parents is to get our children to love the standard, not meet the standard (Father Hunger?) was a watershed moment for me as a dad. Thanks for that. If I remember right, you provided context for the statement (or have you said this somewhere else?) by saying something along the lines of God having lots of yeses and only one no in the garden. So my question is this: What about the Ten Commandments? There we have eight no’s and only two yes’s. How do you jibe that with the number of yeses and noes in the garden as it pertains to general rule making/governance/what-ever-you-call-it—in a household or in a classroom or otherwise? Sorry if I’m mis-remembering and you never said anything about the garden’s yes and no tally. Thanks as always for all you do.
Andy, I have argued (in a number of places) that the Garden of Eden had one no, and multiple avenues of yes. The way I would fit it into the Ten Commandments is by noting that all the no’s are summed up in the Tenth prohibition, the law against covetousness.
I’m reading the Three Pound Tarantula article, messaged to me by a friend. Good stuff. Yes I’ll receive your posts, but you can skip the Cyclones on Jupiter. I belong to several Astronomy groups and am pretty much up on that.
Joseph, thanks. If any of them head our way, could you please let us know?