Christian Blog Says Close Friendships Are Bad

brunette, fashion, friendsI’m still Facebook friends with a lot of my former homeschooling friends and acquaintances. Sometimes they share articles and posts that I have a hard time not saying something about, so I write about them here instead.

Someone I knew from a homeschooling organization shared this post in all seriousness with a comment that went something like, “Yes! This is me! This is extremely important.”

In short, the post she shared argues that friendships that get too close can be a problem. I think what the author is trying to say is that God should be number 1 in a person’s life, and friendships can become such a big part of one’s life that a person can rely on the friendship in times when he or she should turn to God.  But the way she goes about saying it sounds a little different. At the beginning of the post, she gives examples of friendships in which women are so close to each other that they can’t imagine making decisions in life that would put that friendship at risk or make it more difficult for them to spend time together.

I understand how that could potentially hold someone back from making big life decisions. But none of the friendships she gave in her examples sounded toxic to me. They sounded like close, sisterly bonds. Like women offering each other their unwavering support and companionship as partners for life in a purely platonic way. The way this post nonchalantly devalues human relationships is something I haven’t even thought about much in relation to religion, but I suppose when your goal is to be in this supposedly incredible relationship with your creator, if you compare that relationship to human friendships, you’ll end up devaluing those human friendships in the process.

I do understand where this is coming from, at least to a point. God is supposed to be number 1 in a Christian’s life. Anything that distracts one’s focus from God is considered an idol or false deity. As a kid, I was told these were things like television and video games.  I always thought for adults a major false idol was often money. However, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Christian make this point about friendship before.

This post literally discourages people–especially women, if you read between the lines–from having best friends. I sincerely hope that most women who read this don’t take it to heart.

According to the post, there’s a reason these too-close friendships are forming these days: it’s because LGBT people exist, and are being acknowledged by the community at large.

The disintegration of the family and blurred lines of gender and sexuality have left our society with less and less stability. What can you rely on if your sexual preferences continually change and marriage and family relationships become increasingly unreliable? Under these conditions, friendship becomes crucial. In fact, the world’s model BFF is, by all accounts, a functional savior — someone who rescues you from the instability and trials of life, someone with whom and to whom you belong, who is committed to you “forever.”

So um–because LGBT people are gaining awareness and rights, straight people suddenly started becoming best friends? I highly doubt that the prevalence of close friendship is a development of the last 50 or so years.

After that gem about how LGBT people somehow fit into this, the post seemed to discuss these close “friendships” in ways that don’t exactly sound platonic. For example, in the list it includes of 15 ways to know if your friendship has gone too far, 5 of them sound like they’re describing something a bit more serious than even best friendship:

  • Do you experience jealousy when your friend spends time with others? Do you feel a sense of possessiveness toward her?

 

  • Do you prefer to spend time alone with your friend, and are you easily frustrated when others join in?

 

  • Do you have frequent sleepovers, often preferring to share the same bed?

 

  • Do you operate like a couple? Do others see you as inseparable?

 

  • Are you more physically affectionate toward this friend than other friends? Are you physically affectionate in a way that makes others uncomfortable?

Not gonna draw any conclusions about the author from these, but seriously, this is uncomfortably homoerotic for a clearly homophobic blogger.

The conclusion of the post killed me, though. This is some sad stuff. She writes:

A Christian friend understands that, ultimately, she has nothing irreplaceable to offer you and that you have nothing irreplaceable to offer her. Instead, you can link arms together with the goal of pushing each other toward the wellspring of Christ.

Can you imagine how you’d feel if your closest friend said something like this to you? Rather than say that human relationships are good, but a Christian’s relationship with God is greater–a point most Christians would agree with, and that up until now I would never expect anyone to take to this extreme–this post says that human relationships are replaceable. I guess grieving people can rest easy now. Their loved one can be replaced like a dead goldfish.

Have you encountered anything like this before? I’m curious, and a bit concerned that these ideas might be popular among some groups.

Feel free to leave a comment. All opinions are welcome. Just be respectful and think things through before posting.

Happy thinking!

Nancy

 

Placing Myself on The Kinsey Scale

One of the things that I think causes a barrier with regards to equal treatment of LGBT people is an overly simplistic model of sexual orientation. This is especially true for people who experience attraction to multiple genders–sexualities like bisexual and pansexual, for example. Even among the gay community, people who experience attraction to more than one gender are often assumed to be lying about their sexuality.

A close friend of mine who I’ve mentioned on this blog previously, identifies as pansexual. In high school, he used the label “bi,” and people frequently told him, “No. You’re either gay or straight. You can’t be both.” When he tried to explain to them that he was, in fact, attracted to both genders, people assumed he was just using the label “bi” as a stepping stone to coming out gay. This could not have been farther from the truth. While he had not had any relationships with men at the time, he had actively pursued relationships with both genders, and genuinely had no preference for one over the other.

I recently stumbled upon this video, in which lesbians describe what they think about bisexual women, and even among these members of the LGBT community, I saw the same bias my friend had encountered. As I said earlier, I think this boils down to an overly simplified model of human sexuality. We’ve finally accepted that people can be either straight or gay, but sexuality includes even more variation than that, and that variation hasn’t been accepted yet by everyone.

I’m not the first person to have this thought. Alfred Kinsey, a biologist whose work contributed greatly to the field of sexology, developed his own model of sexual orientation, and while it certainly isn’t perfect (and does not address gender identity), adopting it (or something similar) for the purpose of understanding sexuality may help remove the stigma against people with attraction to multiple genders. Here’s his model of sexuality. I’ll describe it a bit, but it’s pretty self explanatory:

On the left side of the chart is the label “straight.” A person with a score of 0 experiences attraction to the opposite gender only. On the right side of the chart is the label “homosexual.” A person with a score of 6 experiences attraction to the same gender only. In between the two are varying degrees of attraction to both genders. People with a score of 3 are exactly bisexual. They do not favor either gender, and are attracted to both about equally. Yet there are those who are mostly straight but have some attraction to people of the same gender; simultaneously, there are people who are mostly gay, but have some attraction to people of the opposite gender. It isn’t perfect, but it opens up the idea that a person who is mostly one way or the other can have some attraction that does not match their primary label. It also lends itself to the idea of bisexuality, allowing a way for people to visualize how this attraction fits in with other ones.

Here’s where the title of this post comes into play. I’d like to see more people utilizing this idea of continuous sexuality in some way. I’d like to see people, especially people who fall anywhere from a 1 to a 5–those in-between places of sexuality–come out as not completely matching the labels society accepts. I suspect that if more people were to openly admit that sexuality does not necessarily fall into a perfect dichotomy, people who identify as bisexual, pansexual, and so forth, will be understood and accepted.

Maybe I’m crazy, but here goes. I’m definitely not a 0 on the Kinsey scale, but I’m not a 3 either. I use the label straight because it most accurately describes my sexual orientation, but I’m at least a 1, maybe a 1.5 if half points are allowed, though I don’t think I’m quite a 2. I definitely experience some attraction to women, though not as frequently as I do to men, and not enough that I’ve ever been actively interested in pursuing a relationship with a woman, though there have been times when I haven’t been completely opposed to it. There’s a stereotype that all women are at least a bit bisexual, but I don’t think this is true. I also don’t think that all men are either gay or straight, but I suspect that due to the way society views male homosexuality more negatively than female homosexuality, we are less likely to hear about it.

What about you? Where do you place yourself on the Kinsey scale? Do you match the exact labels, or are you somewhere in-between? Why do you think there’s so much misunderstanding concerning bisexuality and other such sexual orientations?

Feel free to leave a comment. As always, all opinions are welcome; just be respectful and think things through before posting.

Happy thinking!

-Nancy