Here is photographer Gary Howe's (http://mywheelsareturning.com/) beautiful picture of a cross-gender friendship. Justin is a Lutheran pastor (whose wife is a marriage-and-family therapist, at that), and Karin is his friend.
I thoroughly enjoyed this article when it came out. Allender makes a distinction about sexuality here. There is the sexuality that present in sex. Everyone knows that. But there is a sexuality, an expression of one's femininity and masculinity that happens beyond the bedroom. I pick up the quote with the interviewer asking Allender about a book called, "Sheet Music."
Whatever label you call me, evangelical, post-evangelical, or just Christian, these women have been my mentors, friends, guides, and prophets. In their own unique voice, these women have opened up a new world for me in the last five years. They’ve helped me change from a soft complementarian to an egalitarian. They’ve helped me to envision communities of beauty, justice, love, shalom, and friendship between men and women. All these women have opened my eyes to sexism.
Is there such a thing as a quest for deep relational beauty between men and women in God’s story? I think there is. That’s why I pastor a different kind of community. This is part 2 in a series, “Pastoring a Different Kind of Community.”
We may be small in number now in the evangelical community, but I predict in the 21st century there will be a growing cluster of communities where deep beauty is celebrated in friendships between men and women.
The friends may open up to the wild, mysterious, reckless, beauty of God in friendship. In doing so, the friends participate in the quest for sharing the deep beauty of embodied sexuality in friendship as an end, in and of itself, as a beautiful and cherished gift from God for beauty in this world.
I thought I would post my 10 favorite Lisa Gee quotes. Say what? You don't know who she is? Lisa Gee is one of the women who rocked my world on the subject of love and cross-gender friendships. In my opinion, Lisa has written one of the best books (Friends: Why Men and Women are From the Same Planet) on cross-gender friendship love from a secular perspective. I reviewed it on my blog several years ago. In the spirit of Jesus saying, "I have not found such faith in Israel," when I came across Gee's book, I exclaimed,"I have not found such faith in evangelicalism." These quotes actually reveal how sex-obsessed evangelical communities are and how devoted they are to Freud instead of Jesus.
In her book, Lisa builds a sustained argument for deep, loving, intimate sibling love without wanting each other sexually as a paradigm for male-female friendship love. Those close brother-sister pairs are models on how we get from Freud and sex to passionate but platonic love between cross-gender friends.
If we open up to risk in friendship between men and women it’s going to take us to places we have never been before in our embodied practice of sexuality and love.
James Olthuis gets this right when he states: "It is a matter of faith what we discover and share together, and the shared order we live by, is beyond definition, risky, open to the future, and, in the end, mysterious and sacred. Instead of the mind of safety that goes with tit for tat exchange, there is, in the mutuality of love's caress, the buoyant combination of joy and risk. “
There is a profound mystery of being human being together that can’t follow paint-by-the-numbers, or be determined by a how-to-list of abstract rules.
If we are to avoid reductionism as we embody the image of God, risk is open to a shared order with robust and sacred possibilities.
Not just possibility as in trying to calculate the odds of what is possible versus what is safe.