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The F Word, Part 1

Editorial note: I don’t normally do guest posts. But in this case I am making an exception. The following post is from a friend of mine, a local San Diegan with an advanced ministry degree from a well-known conservative university, whose perspective on life I’ve learned lots from in during our new found friendship.

 

Adam has been blogging a lot about fear lately—how fear robs us of the best God has for us, how God does not intend for his faithful to walk in fear afraid. God is our Father; He is our protector and provider; He is present; He is here. Be not afraid.

So what are Christian men afraid of?

I’ve watched men especially be afraid of one thing—being friends with other men. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve seen guys go watch sports or hunt together; they bump fists at church (and then put their arm around their wives) and then, juuuuust to push the envelope, a good ol’ men’s breakfast.

But authentic friendship? Real brotherhood? Well, the days of Promise Keepers are over. You can bag on that movement all you want but it at least it challenged the traditional status quo in our churches on men’s friendship: Keep it simple and shallow and no one gets hurt.

What are men really afraid of?

What’s at the core of this socially awkward mix? I mean, women do friendship well. They talk and share and get together. And don’t get me wrong, I understand that men usually bond over activities, but it just seems like men now are going through the motions of friendship but the bonding isn’t happening.

Christian men are afraid of being perceived as gay or remotely gay or a tad gay or even a little glitter pixel of gay. I can’t tell you how many men I’ve seen hug and another man nearby says, “That was so gay.”

I’ve heard men share about what is really going on in their lives and right before we get to the root of the issue they pull back and say, “Wow, I’m sounding like a big faggot right now.”

Ah, because gay men are continually wrestling with the emotional needs of a pregnant wife. It’s an epidemic.

Christian men hide behind the façade of not wanting to be thought of as gay as an excuse of not wanting to be perceived as weak or vulnerable. But in doing so, caving into this Christian manly homophobia. Consequently men come across as insensitive jerks by missusing the word gay.

My Two-Year Rule

I have this “two-year” rule.

Here’s the rule. Usually men tell me they have no real friends around them and that they are fine with just the family. Sure, they justify, they have some long distance friends. But they get along just fine.

When I hear them say, “I have no friends” I start a mental countdown of 730 days. At the end of those two years, something will be ruined because of their lack of friendship with other men: A marriage, finances, a father-child relationship, a career, or something else.

Why men need friends

God designed men to have community for the simple fact, left alone, we are morons. And when we hide behind a big pink triangle of an excuse for not having intimate male friends, afraid of the slighted perceived notion of being gay, we are destroying what our soul  needs—Someone to tell us blunt truth about our lives, to walk with us, to challenge how we are treating our wives, our children and our career.

We need friends who know us deeply and intimately. (Wait, did you say intimately? Yes, yes I did. Are you uncomfortable with that? Intimacy.)

And it puzzles me that two men, especially if they are married and have children, are so paranoid about being perceived as gay? What are you worried about to begin with? I don’t get it.

And yes, I get it. Being perceived as gay may cause some damage there—some very real damage.

The Flipside of Your Labels

You need to know the cost of misusing those words, “faggot” and “gay” to describe your fear of friendship with other men, is just an an excuse for what you really need. It is destroying the potential authentic relationship that could very well save the other relationships around you.

And it will also cost you the friendships of those who struggle with being gay. Like me.

But that’s for another post.

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16 Responses to The F Word, Part 1

  1. LemuelUsita January 11, 2012 at 8:13 am #

    Wow. Great post!
    I like the 2 year rule. Im gonna start keeping track of that.
    Thank you for sharing.

  2. Jon Huckins January 11, 2012 at 9:15 am #

    This…is…brilliant.  Well done, Ryan.  Thanks for challenging us to step faithfully into the deep relationships we were designed to participate in.

  3. Shawn January 11, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    You bring up a great issue that is often ignored in church circles. Thanks for doing so. Would love to hear more about your “other post”.

  4. Pastortim January 11, 2012 at 11:44 am #

    Great blog post. the joke at the end was funny.

  5. Keith January 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

    I agree with the premise that most men fear intimacy with other men.  Deep friendships don’t come easily to many men that I know.  I am not sure if it’s about a fear of being viewed as gay though.  Perhaps there is an issue with that, but I don’t think that’s the universal cause.  I don’t have many really close friends, but I don’t think “oh, I look gay” when I open up to some people.  I think that fear actually comes from a distorted view of what it means to be gay.  The simple fact that some individuals use the word “faggot” seems to point to the fact that they have no respect of indviduals who struggle with or embrace homosexuality.  There is no love or grace extended to any homosexual if we simply perceive the LGBT community as faggots.  I really think these are two separate issues that happen to have a small overlap.

    One problem is that the Church needs be transformed in our understanding of homosexuals.  Not that homosexual relationships are Good, but that homosexuals are real people who need love and friendship just like heterosexuals.

    The second problem is that men have a hard time creating emotional bonds with other men.

  6. Lisa Grant January 11, 2012 at 7:25 pm #

    The best thing that ever happened to my husband (and subsequently our marriage) was the friendship he developed with another man.  They meet once a week and hold each other accountable.  They call/text/email each other when they are struggling (mostly, I suspect, when their wives are driving them crazy).  They do “manly” stuff together – build things, run marathons, ride motorcycles, go to Home Depot, etc.  Together, they do the stuff their wives can’t/won’t/don’t want to do.  

    They have other male friends who do not have such a relationship.  According to my husband, it’s not because they are afraid of being called gay.  It’s because they either don’t know how to make themselves vulnerable emotionally, or they don’t want to.  Hubby says it has a lot to do with how their fathers raised them.  

    In my opinion, men need friends just as much as women…maybe more so.  Thanks for bringing this subject to light.  

  7. Kevin Brangwynne January 12, 2012 at 5:02 pm #

    “left alone, we are morons.” Ha! I resemble that remark! Thought provoking post. Can’t say that my fear has been / is of being perceived as gay, so much as weak. Really bought into the John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Lone Ranger, “I can do this on my own” mind-set as a young man & it has in fact come to get the better of me more than once. Difficult habits to unlearn, even after some difficult life lessons! Guess I’d better read Part II!

  8. Peter Marin January 12, 2012 at 5:08 pm #

    the underlying question: why are modern men so completely unwilling to develop relationships that would lead to a deeper level of openness, trust and intimacy? the answer is simultaneously simple and yet profound: each man views, owns and projects outward his own public-face towards other men as a complete picture so as to not *appear* lacking which would then translate into a weaker role that gives an unspoken competitive edge to the ‘other’ guy(s). This is why they typically huddle around sports … it gives each man his own viewpoint (P.O.V.) about the weaknesses of the players/teams/coaches that can easily be debated, ignored or agreed upon. Sport topics are a panecia of emotional *extenders* much in the same way xBox360 extends the game play from the internet. Neither games nor relationships go further than win/lose columns of enthusiastic fan-base participants.

  9. CQAussie February 10, 2012 at 5:26 pm #

    You’re not broken.  You’re saved.  I’m sorry for your pain.  A pain that I can’t even begin to understand or imagine.  You believe in Christ and you are saved because of it, that’s the Gospel.  You’re celibate, you’re single and you’re working hard to not give in to sexual immorality in thought or deed.  I don’t know many heterosexual Christians who can say even that.  I don’t know how to reconcile the Bible’s teachings on homosexual sex but I do know that you’re not any more broken than any other sinner, including myself.  We’re both saved and we’re both healed.  Peace to you, friend.  May God pour out peace and grace on you and may He protect you in all circumstances.

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