A while back, my bride wrote a post entitled Men Friends on The Generous Wife blog. The outcry has been as predicted (more by email than in the blog comments.)
My wife hardly needs me to defend her, but this is an issue that cuts both ways, and I don’t think I have addressed it. I also suspect that some of the angst over this from women is not about their friendships with men, but rather about their husband’s friendship or potential friendship with other women.
There are two general fears as far as I can see: 1) that friendship will lead to sexual temptation, and 2) that the relationship will “look bad” or “be a bad witness”.
The appearance of evil:
Avoiding the appearance of evil is one of those faulty teaching we have all heard. Yes, I said faulty. Let’s look at 1 Thess 5:22 more closely:
Abstain from all appearance of evil. [KJV]
Abstain from every form of evil. [NKJ]
Abstain from every form of evil. [ESV]
abstain from every form of evil. [NAS]
Avoid every kind of evil. [NIV]
Throw out anything tainted with evil. [MSG]
The original King James stands alone here on the idea that we must avoid the “appearance” of evil. The problem with this translation is that it conflicts with what we see Jesus and the apostles actually doing. When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well, He was way into what would have appeared evil to the Jews of the time. Even if the woman was not a prostitute, she was sexually immoral and a social outcast (going to the well in the heat of the day meant she was avoiding others). Had Jesus followed the “avoid the appearance of evil” doctrine, the woman would not have believed in Him, nor would her town have been reached as it was. Most of the apostles also violated social and religious norms, thus taking on the “appearance of evil”. This mis-translation has probably done a great deal to hinder the spread of the Gospel!
Years ago a well known preacher/evangelist said that if he were driving alone and saw a woman from his church broken down on the side of the road, he would not pick her up. He said he would drive to the nearest pay phone (this was before cell phone) and call some help for her. That sounds good until we realise that Jesus condemned this kind of thing in the story of the Good Samaritan. Besides, what if another car did stop – driven by a rapist? Is the “reputation” of the pastor more important than the life and safety of a woman who needs help? How can we become so twisted in our thinking?
Tomorrow: sexual temptation and female friends.