Friends at First Sight

friendsThis blog is part of a synchro blog that is supporting the gathering Bold Boundaries: Expanding Friendships Between Men and Women April 26 and 27.

My friend Kathy Escobar and I will be telling our story and we would just love it if you could come. Who knows, it may increase your intimate friendship circle by 50%!

Take the following with a grain of salt and consider the source. Hang on until the end, the point is coming…

Do you know why Christian camps make a long list of strict rules about who can be where after dark? So they won’t have sex.

Do you know why some churches have full-time singles pastors, usually married, to oversee the singles? So they won’t have sex.

Do you know why churches have open door policies if a man meets with a woman? So they won’t have sex

Do you know why cross-gender relationships have been discouraged in the Church? So they won’t have sex.

I have yet to meet someone who chose to not have sex because it was against company policy.

When I met my wife, I instantly wanted to have sex. I was 19, in a conservative Bible college, and a virgin. Like never even close to not being a virgin, virgin. She was and is a beautiful woman. We began to court, and early on decided that a life together was our plan. If you had asked me then why I love April and want to marry her I would have lied to you. I would have said it was her character, kindness, “best friend-ness”, spiritual depth, and many other truths about her. But none of these were the real reason. I could have never said it out loud, but I mostly just wanted to have sex. I admit it, I had a very narrow view of attraction.

That was a long time ago. We have been married 32 years. If you were to ask me why I want to be with April for the rest of my life, my most honest answer is I don’t really know. I do know that I am attracted to her, however sex would not even make the top 10 reasons. That is not to say sex is not an important part of our lives, but we would make it if some tragedy took that gift away. I am, without hesitation just attracted to her. And I cannot say exactly what I am attracted to. Attraction is so much more than sex.

I am attracted to all of my friends, male and female. But I cannot tell you why. My friends are an eclectic bunch, dissimilar in most every way, what is common is my attraction. Attraction is the unexplainable, no need to defend it, deep human experience that both draws and bonds me to another human being. I believe all deep, intimate relationships transcend any ability to fully know why one person is in my deepest circle of trust and not another. It is a mystery. It was what I call attraction.

I understand that good relationships require more than attraction. Good friendships need hard work, change, confrontation, and forgiveness to name a few. But those skills are not enough for me to give my heart to someone.

Only once, and that was long ago, did sex dominate my attraction. Yet, the fear of a possible adolescent impulse has prohibited men and women from enjoying the depth of intimate friendship. To isolate a beautiful part of being fully human, the gift to be able to have a mysterious connection and desire to trust a person to just sex is a grave tragedy.

My early experiences in full-time ministry of strict rules regarding men and women, and advice from mentors, scared me from forming sacred friendships with women. The principle I was to follow was to not “give the appearance of evil”; therefore I could not go to coffee with a woman who was not my wife. Think about that: having a female friend is not only discouraged (this was strongly taught) but it was in fact possibly evil.

Reality? If I were to be having an affair I have a hunch I would not be hanging around public places flaunting it.

It is a tragedy that cross-gender friendships have not been encouraged. It would be great if you could join us in Chicago to begin to repair the destructive messages we have learned.

here are some others who will be part of the sacred friendship gathering:

Brambonius: Nothing More Natural than Cross-Gender Friendship?

Kathy Escobar: The Road to Equality is Paved with Friendship

Jim Henderson: Jesus Had A Thing For Women and SO DO I

Doreen Mannion: Heterosexual, Platonic Cross-Gender Friendship–Learning from Gay and Lesbian Christans

Chris Jeffries: Best of Both

Jeremy Myers: Are Cross-Gender Friendships Possible?

Lynne Tait: Little Boxes

Glenn Hager: Sluts and Horndogs

Jennifer Ould: A Different Kind of Valentine

Alise Wright: What I Get from my cross-gender friend

Paul Sims: Navigating the Murky Water of Cross-Gender Friendship

Amy Martin: Friendship:  The most powerful force against patriarchy, sexism, and other misunderstandings about people who happen to not be us, in this case, between men & women.

Maria K. Anderson: Myth and Reality: Cross-Gender Friendships

Hugo Schwyzer: Feelings Aren’t Facts: Living Out Friendship Between Men and Women

Liz Dyer: Cross Gender Friendships And The Church

Marta Layton: True Friendship: Two Bodies, One Soul

Jonalyn Fincher: Why I Don’t Give out Sex Like Gold Star Stickers

Elizabeth Chapin: Fifty Shades of Friendship

Doug Webster: Expressing Love Outside of Romance



This entry was posted in Christian Culture, healing, men, womens issues. Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Friends at First Sight

  1. alisewrite says:

    “I have yet to meet someone who chose to not have sex because it was against company policy.”

    BOOM. I wish we could get that. I keep seeing rules set up and people are still having sex because the rules tell them that the only way to relate to the other person is sexually. So there are more rules and more sex and we don’t learn what attraction without sex can look like.

    Great post – can’t wait to hear you speak in April!

  2. Pingback: Link List – February 2013 Synchroblog – Cross-Gender Friendships « synchroblog

  3. Pingback: Cross Gender Friendships And The Church « Grace Rules Weblog

  4. zoggdog says:

    thanx, Karl. my life would be so less rich, if I adhered, to what I think is an antiquated view of friendship. I like a quote from CS Lewis:”Eros will have naked bodies; friendship baked personalities.” somehow we have confused the two.

  5. Pingback: the road to equality is paved with friendship. | kathy escobar.

  6. Pingback: Heterosexual, Platonic Cross-Gender Friendships – Learning from Gay & Lesbian Christians « Religious Refuse

  7. damannwrite says:

    “Attraction is so much more than sex.” Thank you!

  8. Pingback: Nothing more natural than cross-gender friendships? | Brambonius' blog in english

  9. John says:

    WOW I thought we were in trouble for a minute there bro… I am really attracted to you and Kathy, to Suzann, Julie, Geoff and Ray, I’m really glad I don’t have to have sex with all of you people. However it is a shame that you have to get to my age to understand that friendship is so important, no matter what sex a person is. Again, thanks Karl you have insight that is so fresh and important to be put out there

  10. Pingback: 50 Shades of Friendship « Elizabeth Chapin ~ ChapinChick

  11. Paul says:

    Yes! Spot on Karl! You have a gift of cutting through all the crap and talking about the elephant in the room. Thanks for saying it so plainly!

  12. Pingback: Friendship: The most powerful force against patriarchy, sexism, and other misunderstandings about people who happen to not be us, in this case, between men & women | Amy D Martin

  13. Liz says:

    ‘Think about that: having a female friend is not only discouraged (this was strongly taught) but it was in fact possibly evil.’

    And this makes women feel even more alienated and inferior in the church – this idea that a man having a real friendship with them will lead them into evil.

    PS Thanks so much for contributing to the synchroblog. Don’t forget to add the links to the end of your post. You can find the list here:

  14. irene says:

    There are some beautiful famous Christian friendships that were based on their love for God… Teresa of Avila & John of the Cross, St. Francis of Assisi and Clare, Madam Guyon and Francis Fenelon. They all loved God so much and together they worked to help so many. Teresa of Avila said that “at times spiritual and sensual love become so intermingled that no one can understand such love. She maintained that this is a completely normal occurrence between souls, whether male or female, and that there should be no torment over this feeling of love.” With the Holy Spirit working and the joy of sharing the love of God… yea…it’s amazing. Thanks Karl….

  15. Great read, Karl! Going to tweet up my fav line “I do know that I am attracted to her, however sex would not even make the top 10 reasons” right now.

  16. adm says:

    Oh my, that was so freaking funny. I laughed out loud. Thanks, and can’t wait to meet you! I anticipate more laughing…

  17. Anonymous says:

    Hi Karl, LIz shared this with me. I fully agree. In fact great intimacy across gender decreases the sexual tension because, I believe, we do not really want sex as much as a relationship of depth.

  18. kathyescobar says:

    karl you are such a great communicator. loved this post and thankful for your friendship. it’s been worth every bit of blood & sweat & tears, without a doubt, and i am grateful for all i continue to learn about life & love & God & myself through our friendship. goodness gracious, we do have a crazy story to tell.

    • karlw says:

      yes, it is a story for the ages. in reality, i dont really think much about the cross gender thing. i am sure the dynamics might be different if it were otherwise, but i am not sure how. thanks for hanging on, in and with me!

  19. Pingback: 50 Shades of Friendship « Elizabeth Chapin ~ ChickChaotic

  20. I’d love to be there for the weekend, but alas – it’s the wrong side of the Atlantic!

    But it’s been great to read all the synchroblog posts. You are right, Karl, the attraction we feel for our friends really is a mystery. Perhaps, if we could understand it in full detail the magic would vanish. But we can’t. All we can do is give it back to Yahshua and watch him use it.

    So let’s do that. Let’s pray, ‘Lord, take my friendships and use them for your glory.’

  21. Pingback: Why I Don’t Give out Sex like Gold Star Stickers | RubySlippers

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