Earlier I wrote that one basic problem with Mrs. Byrd’s new book, Why Can’t We Be Friends, is she does not prove that the problem she is addressing, that of men and women in the church not being friends because the church has adopted a worldly mindset, actually exists in large enough numbers and is taught by a large enough group of leaders to be a major issue in the evangelical church. As I read, I found it hard to nail down exactly what she wanted us to do or think. The book meandered a bit and much of what she said, especially in the second half, all parties agree with. So this post is a bit boring, but my goal is to state clearly what I think she is trying to accomplish.
Here is what she cannot be proposing:
First, she cannot be proposing that men and women should become friends in group settings. Most men and women, even when married, are perfectly fine having friendships that are social and public. Couples having dinner together or groups meeting together in a social setting would not violate anything I have read from those opposed to Mrs. Byrd’s suggestions. Most men I know are happy to talk to women in a public, social setting. Our church is super-patriarchal, yet we talk with opposite the sex after church, at church picnics, etc.
Second, she cannot be proposing that men and women should work together vocationally. Again, who is saying that men and women should not work together? Perhaps there would be (and should be) some discussion when there are late nights at the office or road trips. But the idea of men and women working together, even a pastor and female secretary alone at the office for eight hours, is rarely if ever opposed. I would be overjoyed if work places were a lot less coed. But no doubt I am in a very, small minority.
Third, she cannot be proposing that singles should have opportunities to meet one on one, such as a date. (One of the problems with this book and at least one review I read is they equate developing opposite sex friendships when single and doing the same thing when married. They are different for one obvious reason: the person is no longer single.) There are courtship advocates who may go so far as to say a single man should never be alone with a girl. But that is not the norm. Most of the evangelical church, reformed church, and even courtship advocates are fine, to varying degrees, with singles being alone with each other on dinner dates, going to movies, driving, etc.
Fourth, despite Douglas Wilson’s tweet about not helping a woman unless her bone was sticking out, I think most men, including Doug, would gladly help a woman if she needed it. I doubt the main point of this book is that men should help women who have flat tires or need their groceries loaded in their trunk. Continue reading