Discover more from Aaron Renn
Friendships With the Opposite Sex Are a Disaster Waiting to Happen
Back in newsletter #25 I talked about platonic friendships between men and women and why I personally have a policy to never have 1:1 personal friendships with women. A lot of Christians advocate these friendships, but I’ve rarely seen them lead to anything but disaster.
If you aren’t convinced, look at what just happened to Dallas megachurch pastor Matt Chandler. He’s been placed on leave for text messages (actually, Instagram DM messages) sent between him and a woman who was not his wife. According to the church, the two were not having an affair, the messages were neither sexual nor romantic, both of their spouses knew about the messages, and Chandler himself is the one who told the church elders about them. But he was still suspended and may well end up sacked.
This should give you a sense of the risk of having any sort of opposite sex friendship.
Ironically, one of the big advocates for opposite gender friendships is Jen Wilkin of Chandler’s Village Church, who actually argues that not only can we have these relationships, but we must have them.
There’s dangers for both parties, but in a #MeToo world, the danger is especially high for men. Even if you objectively do nothing wrong, simply being accused is to be convicted today, even if it’s for something totally subjective like making a woman feel uncomfortable.
We don’t have the full story on what happened with Chandler. Maybe he did say something he shouldn’t have. Or maybe more stuff will come out. I’m sure the advocates of opposite sex friendships will say something like, “Just don’t do bad things, and you won’t have and problems.”
Well, a) that’s not necessarily true and b) any approach that depends on the perfection of human behavior for its success is one that is, at its core, not Christian.
You don’t have to be a religious man to realize that you are playing with fire when you put yourself in these situations. We can’t and shouldn’t try avoid all risk in life. Sometimes we need to take on very high risks. But given the lack of any real possible upside, this is a crazy one to take on. As I wrote:
Some of these may be remote possibilities. But if one of these “black swan” events happens to you, it could be life-destroying. Given the instability of male-friendships as a “just friends” situation, a negative outcome of some sort appears to be the most likely scenario. Very bad outcomes are not uncommon.
There’s one interesting detail in this case, namely that this was based on social media direct messages. My phone number isn’t that hard to track down, but most people don’t have it and so can’t just text me. But anyone can “slide into my DMs” as they say. Because of the nature of my work, I leave mine open to anyone so I can be sent information. But if you don’t need strangers to be able to contact you that way, locking down your DMs to only people you follow might be a good idea.
It’s your life and you get to make the decisions about how to live it. It’s a free country and I fully respect people’s rights to make their own choices. But this Chandler situation validates completely my approach and what I sad about the dangers of opposite sex friendships back in newsletter #25. I even cite Matt Chandler in it!
This is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.