Many of us have acquaintances, or friends, but not true accountability partners who will speak the GODS HONEST TRUTH when we need to hear it, LISTEN when we need to tell it and HOLD US UP when it seems to be crushing us.

There are many reasons I have failed to fill these position in my life, I have been hurt and abused by men, cast off, and ignored, and become rigid and hard.

Perhaps now that GOD has softened my heart by shinning the Light of Truth on my transgressions, and by humbling and humiliating me through my addiction and the damage I have caused, plus the pain I have inflicted; my heart is receptive to the point where I can take HIS wisdom to heed.

The following is a reprint of a story by J. Lee Grady who is editor of Charisma Magazine online.
Steve

Meaningful Male Friendship
By J. Lee Grady

Despite the proliferation of iPhones, Blackberries, e-mail and social-networking Web sites—not to mention Starbucks locations—many Christian men, if they are honest, will tell you they are lonely. They may Twitter several times a day to co-workers; they may have occasional golf buddies; they may even grab coffee with colleagues from time to time. But so many men who attend church regularly are friendless.

This was made real to me recently when I spoke to a group of men at a large charismatic church in Rochester, N.Y. I was talking about three different types of relationships we need: (1) "Pauls," who serve as spiritual fathers; (2) "Barnabases," peer-level encouragers who support and challenge us; and (3) "Timothys," younger men we inspire and mentor.

I asked the guys in Rochester to write down the names of the men in their lives who fall into each category. When the session was over, one man went home to his wife and announced that he couldn't write down one name in any of the categories. He had no meaningful relationships. Other men I spoke to that night admitted that they don't have mentors and have never been transparent with a male friend about personal problems.

Men are disconnected. And we wonder why the American church is dysfunctional? Secular psychologists can tell you why men struggle to build close relationships with each other. But we rarely address this issue in the church—and as a result many men who love God live in painful isolation. I've identified the three biggest barriers to healthy male bonding:

1. Macho stereotypes. The macho myth says a real man is a rugged individualist: strongly independent, emotionally detached, covered in body armor without visible weaknesses. The macho myth tells boys they must never cry—even when they are in pain—and that when they become adults they cannot be intimate with their wives or tender with their children. The macho myth says they must maintain dictatorial power and control in relationships, even if abuse is necessary.

Yet when we look at Scripture we see that Jesus Christ radically challenged the macho culture promoted by the religious leaders of His day. The Pharisees looked down on women, stayed aloof from children, and celebrated their own importance while refusing to touch the needy. Jesus, on the flip side, empowered marginalized women, held babies in His arms, touched lepers and told a parable about a father who embraced and kissed his wayward son. Jesus destroyed the macho myth by demonstrating that the strongest masculinity is gentle and approachable.

2. Fear of homosexuality. In my travels I've noticed that men in other countries feel perfectly free to be affectionate. Men in Africa hold hands; in Latin countries they kiss each other on the neck. Sociologists say male affection was once more common in this country—but it waned around the same time awareness of homosexuality increased. Nowadays, many straight men are afraid to offer a consoling embrace to a friend lest it be viewed as a sexual advance.

That's tragic for many reasons, mostly because all human beings need affection to thrive. There are men today in their 60s and 70s who still crave the affection their emotionally-repressed fathers never gave them. So they live in shells and suffer in silence.

Many guys turn to homosexuality as a substitute for the healthy, non-sexual male affection they should have received. (Then the devil is all too eager to convince them they were "born that way.") The church could offer genuine healing to guys who struggle with sexual identity issues, but it will require us to offer fatherly or brotherly affection without fear.

3. The competition trap. Let's face it: Guys are so insecure and so work-oriented that we rate each other and ourselves solely on performance. Whether on the fourth-grade playground or in the corporate boardroom, we are so obsessed with the game that we can't let any other guy get ahead. We have to win, so every other male becomes an obstacle to our goal.

Male pride is the single biggest reason we can't get close to our brothers. It's the reason a Christian guy with a porn addiction can't be honest enough to call a friend and share his ugly secret. It's the reason some pastors can't admit their marriages are suffering. It's the reason successful businessmen end up drinking on weekends instead of finding a support group. A big, fat ego stands in the way.

Jesus showed us how to deal with male pride. Right before He went to the cross He gathered His male followers together for the Passover, stripped off His clothes and put on a slave's towel. Then He proceeded to wash His disciples' smelly, dusty feet. When He finished the job He told His men they should treat each other the same way.

The current epidemic of moral failure among men in the church today is directly tied to our lack of healthy, honest relationships. The only way to reverse the trend is to reintroduce men to the servant Savior—who was so humble that he took off His macho armor and became vulnerable.

J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma.

Tags: Christ, Church, Freindship, Relationships, faith, spitituality

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Great post. I agree with a lot of what you say. I have had a few really good male friends. We would confide in each other. I think it really helps, especially if you happen to be going through some life event at the time.

I haven't had one in a while though, rough thing about military life is that you have to move every so often. I always meet new guys when I go to work at a new unit, but whether or not we "hit it off", well that's not always the case.

Great post at any rate.
God Bless Brother, and Thank you for your service!
Thanks for sharing this, Steve.

I think another problem is laziness. Relationships take time and energy. It's easy to create a comfortable, controllable shell to live our lives in and to keep others out of; maintaining a deep relationship with another guy requires investment of time and emotional energy, something that's often hard to muster.

The good news is that the grass really is greener on the other side of that fence. I've been stepping out lately and spending more time in conversation with some other guys in my church (a generation older), and it has helped me profoundly in my development as both a man and a Christian.

I think the most important thing to remember is that transparency is the key. Drop the macho facades and unload your burdens. Your fellow men will get where you're coming from and be able to help, but only if you let them.
I don't disagree with any of that, Topher (except maybe where you thought you disagreed with me). :)

I think for me personally, social laziness has been a big factor hampering my development of strong male relationships. I make time for other things I want to do, but somehow I'm "too busy" to do things with other men.

I find that the men in my church are the type who would "drop everything to be there for me" and "go see a movie or a ball game" with me. But then, I'm in an unusually small, intimate church.
I have been fortunate to have several close male friends....the kind that would walk though fire for me. I consider that to be a blessing. Remember, the most important thing that a man acquires in his life is not money or material things. What makes a man rich is his friends.
I completely agree with the post above. I would also willingly admit that I feel lonely a lot of the time because I work from home. I find that unless I make a conscious effort to spend time with people after work or be around people during work, I have a really hard time.

Where I would disagree with the author above is in his main reasons for our lack of community. I think our culture and economic system have much more to do with our lack of connectedness then do macho stereotypes, fear of homosexuality, and the competition trap. Those may have been true for the guys my dad's age, but I don't think they apply as much to guy's my age.

With the proliferation of technology and media, it's hard not to be continuously distracted by television, movies, games, and the busyness of an individualistic capitalist society. Jesus stressed much more reliance on one another and the kind of openness you find when living in a close community. Our capitalistic society stresses a "make it on your own" type of mentality while Jesus stresses strength in reliance on others. I think the American dream has corrupted the American church.

I have lived in other countries that are more communal and loved it! I've found myself much more relaxed, less busy and with more time to focus on relationships. In communal-based societies, life is slower and the emphasis is on relationships not efficiency. I've found that I'm accepted in friendship much more quickly than I am in America. As Christians, we are quick to say gathering money is not the goal in life, but why do we spend most of our time working for it?
those damned Puritans messing it up again. ;)
I agree that it is important to have close male friends. My closest friend moved away for work and I miss him greatly. It does feel good to have someone to bond and commiserate with.

However, do you really believe that men become gay because they haven’t had enough male affection? Really? Where in the world did Grady come up with that?

It does amuse me to think that, according to Grady’s hypothesis, you can get out there and combat homosexuality by being affectionate to other men. “Buddy, I’m gonna hug the gay right out of ya!”
Hey Adam,

I think what Grady was trying to communicate, is that choosing to lead a gay lifestyle can stem from a lack of male relationship especially in the developmental years. (i.e. missing father, distant father)

I have a lot of "gay"friends who are attracted to men but choose not to lead a gay lifestyle. They've explained to me that their attraction is based on an unhealthy understanding of what it means to be a man. They never had a strong male influence in their life to teach and model manliness for them. They see characteristics they desire in other men and sexualize those desires. Some of my friends have lost their same sex attraction over time after experiencing healthy relationships with other men.

Now, if I have a friend I know is struggling with same sex attraction and doesn't desire to lead a gay lifestyle, I am quick to give him a hug and model what a friendship with a man is like without the sexual aspect.

Leanne Payne wrote a good book describing this process called "Crisis in Masculinity". Unfortunately, many Christians today are completely ignorant about the homosexual issue and assume it must be caused by a spiraling cycle of lust (Romans 1). That is one way it can happen, but not the only way or, I would argue, the main way. Based on my experience, I have met many guys who are attracted to other men but have never acted on their urges.

Here's another good website from a guy I've heard speak before. Chad Thompson wrote a book called, "Loving Homosexuals like Jesus Would". His website is http://lovinghomosexuals.com. I wish every Christian would listen to this guy speak!
I understand Grady’s point, I just disagree with it. I have a few gay friends who do lead gay lifestyles. They will tell you that they were gay from the first time they had any sexual feelings. I do not believe that it is inherently wrong to be gay.

It makes me sad that in a three point list of why men can’t form close friendships with other men, the number two point is: “Fear of homosexuality.” What is the fear of? Fear of looking gay? That seems to be Grady’s point. Being afraid to give a friend a hug because you are worried that you will look gay is NOT manly, in my humble opinion.

That is not to say that I disagree with Grady’s overarching point. We should put aside our cultural hang-ups and seek to create close friendships with other men.
If you go to the site lovinghomosexuals.com, Chad Thompson explains very well why so many Christian men have such a strong fear of homosexuality.

Here is a quote from Chad "Christians become so entrenched with the idea that homosexuality is a sin, they forget that homosexuals are people."
It's true. I went through the process of understanding that when one of my older brothers told the family he was gay. I still love him. He's still my brother and because he is my brother I know he's a man.

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