Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Male/Female Friendships - A Female Perspective

Guy/girl relationships. What is appropriate, what isn't?

Here is an issue where there seems to be much confusion. While I don't pretend to know half of what there is to know on it, hopefully I can at least shed some light on it from what I've seen.

We often talk of the modesty issue, and even address the aspect of touching: Are hugs appropriate outside the family... etc.   But here is an aspect that is often overlooked (to my limited knowledge): Conversation.   What is appropriate between guys and girls in relation to conversation?

While these verses apply to all of life, and not only our conversation, in this particular instance I will only be applying them to how we interact through words.

Philippians 1:27-28
 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.
Here we see that our conversation should be centered on Christ and the Kingdom work; encouraging each other and working together for His glory.   “I may hear of your affairs”... Is our conversation with the opposite gender such that we have no cause to be ashamed should others hear/see it?

Hebrews 13:5
 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
We think of covetousness as wanting things that aren’t ours… the other person’s heart is not ours - is our conversation such that it will rob the other of their heart?  Are we content in the place God has us? or are we out trying to “win their heart” because we’re not content to wait on God’s timing?    There is a time to work at knitting hearts together. But it is to be started by the man, and only after much prayer and serious consideration; only then can he try to “win her heart”, and only in a godly fashion.
Something that I see to be harmful (and this is spoken out of personal experience) is when a guy tells a girl that he loves her.  It happens a lot (that I have seen) and while the guy may insist that it is only meant as a brother, and the girl may say it’s alright… it still causes the girl to give her heart to the guy without meaning to.   As a girl who once said it was “alright”, and “I know how it’s meant”, it still caused unholy thoughts, it still caused the heart to stray in spite of efforts made against it. It still took the purity from a heart meant for one man only.  This is no light matter.  This is nothing to be careless with, or “make allowances” for.  This is sometimes called “playing with fire” and there’s good reason for it.   When all is said and done it causes great shame to one or both parties involved.

Psalm 50:23
 Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.
How do we order our conversation aright? How do we glorify God through our conversation?  Let scripture interpret scripture…
1 Timothy 5:1-2
 Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren;
 The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.
This leads to another question: How do brothers and sisters treat one another? “With all purity”.  What is purity?  
“Purity consists of ‘clean hands’, innocence…”  “Purity is related to guiltless, blameless, or innocent behavior.”  “The focus is on moral purity or purification: chastity; innocence in one’s attitude toward members of the church; and moral purity or uprightness. Purity is associated with understanding, patience and kindness; speech, life, love, and faith, and reverence.”
 Reverence is a high form of respect. If we truly love and reverence them, we will show that love and respect by doing our utmost to guard their heart, and to be, ourselves, blameless should their heart stray.   Our conversation should be such that there is no cause for either party to stumble.

2 Corinthians 1:12
 For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.
“In simplicity and godly sincerity” this would be without empty, meaningless flattery, or over complicating things. Speaking the truth in love, and not straying from the purpose of the conversation.
“Not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God” - again, Christ is to be at the center of our conversation.
 “Not with fleshly wisdom” - not drawing attention to ourselves with our “wisdom”, but keeping the focus on Christ, asking for His wisdom.

Ephesians 2:3
 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
 All of us have made mistakes in the past. We have all been “fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind” through our conversation in the past. We still do it.  We “were by nature the children of wrath”, but through Christ have been made the “sons of God” (1 John 3:1-2) which affects how we should conduct our conversation.
Ephesians 4:22-24
 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Philippians 3:20-21
 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself.

I have heard many times in reference to young people being careless in their conversation, and being hurt because of it “that’s just how young people are, they’ll grow out of it.”  This is a wrong perspective. The scriptures say differently:
1 Timothy 4:12
 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
One is never too young to take responsibility for their actions, and also very importantly, their conversation, and strive to glorify God through it.  We must be conducting our conversation in wisdom, and knowledge - going against the “normal” accepted carelessness.
James 3:13
 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.

It is the man’s responsibility to lead the relationship and to guard the girl’s heart, but that does not lessen the responsibility of the girl to guard his heart as well.   We girls have a great deal of sway over the guys, and we need to be aware of that and use it wisely.
1 Peter 3:1-2
 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, as any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;
 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.
For us unmarried girls it is right to “be in subjection” in so far as we do not take the lead, nor push the guys to do anything but draw nearer to God.  But that is to be the extent of our subjection, until marriage.  

Girls, guys largely go with what we appear to be comfortable with in a relationship. If we don’t set strict boundaries, we are causing them to stumble.  If we “be nice” and make allowances for things (such as accepting terms of endearment) we are not guarding their hearts, and are in grave danger of losing our own.
Accepting terms of endearment from a man who is not (yet?) your husband is stealing what is not yours.  Even if you end up marrying him later in life, you have not saved those special things for marriage.   Imagine he is married, just for sake of argument: would his wife be comfortable with the way you talk? would she be alright with him saying he loves you, or calling you such things as “sweetheart” and the like?   Whether we like to think about it or not, the guys we talk to are married, in that if we aren’t going to marry them, they will be marrying someone else; if we allow our conversation to go beyond the confines of “all purity” with chastity we are stealing the innocence from him that should be preserved for his future wife.

Guys. When you call us girls “sweetheart”, “doll”, “precious” etc., you are stealing little bits of our hearts. When you tell us “I love you” one on one you are not guarding our hearts, guarding our innocence, or preserving those special terms inviolate for our husbands one day.  Upon the occasion of marriage those terms should be new and special, not “old hat”, and having been used to the point of not being special anymore.   When you use those terms for us, you are stealing bits of our hearts, so in the event that we should marry, we can no longer give our whole heart to our husband; it is now pieced out to many others.    We girls cannot simply “take back” our hearts once they have been given.  Once even a small bit of our hearts have been given, the one to whom it was given has a piece of it forever. It’s how girls are, it’s how we were made.  We were made to be a “help fit” for our husband one day, which means we have this natural desire to belong to a guy. And a guy that makes us feel that we belong in that way will have a part at least, if not all, of our hearts.    Please be understanding of this, and be careful that you don’t steal our hearts away from our future husbands.

In closing here is a verse to keep in mind as we seek to conduct our male/female relationships in “all purity”:
Ezra 7:23
 Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be diligently done for the house of the God of heaven: for why should there be wrath against the realm of the King and His sons?