Cultivating God-honoring Friendships with the Opposite Sex

David Mackey

What are your goals with the opposite sex? Think about it. Go back to the beginning when you first started wanting that girlfriend. What was your goal? Has it changed since those early years?

Over the years, a number of not so different goals have been presented to me as I have talked with various guys about that elusive girlfriend. In fact, I am quite aware that MY goals were most often like those ‘various guys.’ Most of those goals had an underlying theme ‘ ME.

Oh, let me clarify, these were NOT the goals presented to the girls’these were the true goals that come out of the heart’ often presented to my buddies but sometimes my secret. The goals were about ‘GETTING’- for ME, a girlfriend so that I might have some kind of status. Sometimes the goal was about ‘GETTING’- for ME, to a certain ‘base’. Still, other times, the goal was about ‘GETTING’- for ME, someone to stroke my ego.

Believe it or not, sometimes my goal seemed a little more proper or even spiritual. I was looking for the woman God had for me ‘ actually was ‘GETTING’- for ME.

Always it seems to come down to goals that are self or ME centered. The girls often were an object for my pleasure, or for my ego, or for my comfort through life.

The title of this article has a very different goal, GOD-HONORING FRIENDSHIPS. God-honoring friendships are probably much closer to what God wishes to see in our modern day relationships.

What would life be like if our goals were really about FRIENDSHIP and NOT ABOUT GETTING FOR ME? For many there would be seen an entirely new way of relating.

Friendships have different levels of intimacy then acquaintances. Within our friendships there might be a wide range of depths of intimacy. But, in friendships there seem to be some basic foundational elements.

In The Pursuit of Intimacy by Dr. David Ferguson and Dr. Chris Thurman some of the necessary ingredients found in intimate relationships are: AFFECTIONATE CAREGIVING, VULNERABLE COMMUNICATION, MUTUAL GIVING, and JOINT ACCOMPLISHMENT. In the book the writers are focused on building deeper intimacy in marriage. The ingredients however, are found also in friendships and they just might be helpful when incorporating them as some of the facets or goals in Cultivating God-honoring Friendships with the Opposite Sex.

Friendships often start in one of these areas. If you have ever worked at a summer camp, been on a missions trip, worked on a school or work project with others of either sex, you may recall that a levels of friendship often develops. This is because you are JOINTLY ACCOMPLISHING something together. This working on the same goal is a friendship builder. If the goal has spiritual elements to it, sometimes the friendships seem to be deeper.

Friendships sometimes start when one person is hurting and another comes alongside to give care and comfort. If this is from the opposite sex, this care by its very nature is affectionate, even if it does not involve touch. Ferguson and Thurman call this AFFECTIONATE CAREGIVING and it seems to forge and cultivate friendships.

Friendships sometimes develop when there is a pattern of MUTUAL GIVING. One person gives and the response is to give back. The giving can start as external such as material gifts, but in friendships it usually ends up more internal, as in giving of oneself in actions and deeds.

Friendships sometimes start and or deepen when we listen to a friend’s heart and give to a friend the story of our own heart. This might be called VULNERABLE COMMUNICATION. To share our hearts: our beliefs and values, our pains and fears, our wounds and scars, makes us quite vulnerable. When we share and someone listens and accepts us a deep friendship can be built. Likewise when we listen to someone else and accept them, they will be drawn to us as a friend.

Back to our goal. What if our goal was to actually cultivate friendships’ with both sexes. If some goals in our life were to care about others so that we give to them affectionately, friendships would be cultivated. If among our life goals was the goal to give to others, not just when they are in need but just to say I am thinking of you, or I care about you, friendships would be cultivated. If our life goals included communicating on the heart level with people in our lives, friendships would be cultivated. If we worked, served, accomplished side-by-side with others, friendships would be cultivated.

If we keep it about me and what I get, people will be pushed away and/or unhealthy relationships will likely be established. If we focus on others, building up others, encouraging others, serving others, seeking the hearts of others then God-honoring friendships will likely be cultivated with both sexes.

Holy and Healthy Sex in Marriage: Part 4

David Wever

My guess is that many of you have heard this familiar phrase from your wives at some point in your relationship: ‘You just want sex!’ As men this is often times the main goal or mission we have on our minds even if it is with good intentions. The problem is that our lack of communication may leave our wives feeling that our sexual intimacy is more about getting to the goal rather than truly connecting.

One of the most essential, yet often times least developed facets of sexual intimacy, is communication. Romance and arousal are truly built on this necessary dynamic. Communication is the lubricant in a well oiled machine. Often times we learn as men by our culture or otherwise that talking may get us to sex. The problem though with our talking is that it may just be a vehicle to get our ‘goals’ met without truly connecting in the relationship. We may converse in order to get information or direction towards the goal we are trying to accomplish especially if we have hyper-stimulated ourselves to achieve certain goals in sexual intimacy.

I want to offer a different way of communicating for us as men. It is not the manliest way but it may help to establish connection rather than just completing a mission in sexual intimacy.

This proposed way of communicating is chatting. That’s right, I said it. You might be thinking, ‘But Dave, chatting is something guys just don’t do.’ You’re right! But when a person chats, there is often times not a goal or mission to get somewhere in mind. Instead when most people chat they are usually pretty relaxed and talking about their days or their hearts and thoughts. The main point I want you to catch here is that in your romance or arousal towards healthy, Godly sexual intimacy, sex is not the goal. It is truly connecting that needs to be at the forefront.

Sometimes a paradigm shift in the way we approach communication can help us move towards actually letting ourselves be there in heart and mind and then body. The Songs of Solomon are a beautiful picture of a couple moving toward God’s gift of sexual intimacy and then celebrating their oneness. The small but deeply explicit book on romance and intimacy is filled with conversations and chatting about how they feel about one another. Simply, it is filled with communication leading up to eventual physical intimacy.

One set of verses in particular can be found in Song of Songs 1:15-16, How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes are doves. How handsome you are, my lover! Oh, how charming! And our bed is verdant.’ Here the Lover (the husband) and the Beloved (the wife) are exchanging not only feelings about one another but are expressing and conversing about the heart of their relationship that leads to a verdant or lush place of intimacy in their marriage bed. Their chatting, if you will, goes on throughout the entire book. An exchange of not only passion but of true hearts is shared in a back and forth dialogue.

Is the vibrancy or lushness of your marriage bed rooted routinely in how good the physical component of intimacy is? Or is it founded upon the communication leading to connectedness in the heart?

Communication leads to connection. Ultimately, connection allows communion with one another in celebrating God’s oneness in your hearts. Rebecca and I both do not commune in sexual intimacy unless we feel connected. And the way we feel connected is to talk, to chat, to dialogue and express our hearts not just to gear up our loins. You may be thinking, ‘Well what about spontaneous, ‘quickie’ sex? Is that ok even if we don’t communicate?’ Yes. But I would guess if you go back a day or two, you may find that even that spontaneity may be founded upon safe, understanding, heart felt communication. If not you may be cheating yourselves of the most important part of sex: true connectedness and intimacy from the heart.

Next time you and your wife are feeling aroused, give chatting a try as it leads to further physical intimacy. Ask yourself before the fires of desire are fanned, have I communicated or talked about my day with her? As you rebuild and restore your heart around sexual intimacy ask yourself: Am I communicating? Is the communication we are having leading to connection? And when we commune in physical sexual intimacy do I feel and stay connected emotionally and spiritually?

Remember, your communication is an essential building block to connection and safeness to allow desire to blossom. It is also a building block to physical foreplay in sexual intimacy. We will look further at Holy and Healthy physical foreplay next time in this series.

For more help, join one of our couples groups at our next New Life Weekend.