The Gifts Of Male-Female Friendships -- By: Marlin E. Thomas
The Gifts Of Male-Female Friendships
Martin Thomas has been a Mennonite Brethren pastor and Christian school teacher for 30 years. He has been in the conflict consultation business cm the side for five years, and recently opened an office in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to do full-time mediation, intervention, and consultation in conflict resolution for churches, families, and businesses. He is married and has two grown children. His article first appeared in MCC Women’s Concerns Report, Jan-Feb 1993, and is reprinted by permission.
I was well into mid-life before I overcame the fear of my sexuality. That fear prohibited me from enjoying quality non-sexual relationships with women. When I finally overcame that fear, several wonderful gifts of life came to me.
One was the ability to share my own intense sensitivity to the human factor of life with others. The men I knew did not understand that sensitivity as I did. My wife had her own sense of it, but that one relationship kept me somewhat limited in interacting with others.
Another gift was the depth of meaning which many women bring to conversation. As my female friendships increased in number and in depth of meaning, my own understanding of life deepened. It brought a wonderful sense of identity with the human soul that had been lacking earlier.
A third gift was that of doubling my sources for the interpretation of the meanings of life. Relationships with men only, effectively withheld from me the insights that women could provide. Now I am able to gather the insights of both men and women, and enlarge the picture.
A fourth gift was helping me understand a more appropriate approach to the role of caretaking. I had always been quite matter of fact, though my courtesy to others masked my true inability to comprehend more deeply the human factor in caring. As I began to work alongside women chaplains, teachers and pastors, I saw in their work a quality of caretaking that went far beyond my ability to care.
Finally, I came to experience release from my sense of sexual bondage. I had been so tight, fearing that I might fall, that I couldn’t really be comfortable in mixed company. As I moved closer to women I learned more about my own feelings, and in learning I discovered the difference between pure sexual feelings and lust. I discovered that feeling “male” was not sinful, and that in so doing lust was not a necessary concomitant. Thus I was liberated to enjoy more fully, yet more appropriately, the relationships God sent my way.
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