That's the title of an article by William Deresiewicz in which he suggests opening the closet wider to allow platonic friendships between men and women. No sex necessary. Of course Harry insisted that was impossible in the movie "When Harry Met Sally."
Not that platonic friendships don't exist today. It's just that friendships that don't end up in bed are not part of popular culture according to Dereseiwicz. After briefly tracing the history of platonic friendships, he makes this observation of our current culture:
We have trouble, in our culture, with any love that isn’t based on sex or blood. We understand romantic relationships, and we understand family, and that’s about all we seem to understand.
We have trouble with mentorship, the asymmetric love of master and apprentice, professor and student, guide and guided; we have trouble with comradeship, the bond that comes from shared, intense work; and we have trouble with friendship, at least of the intimate kind. When we imagine those relationships, we seem to have to sexualize them.I am fascinated by the fact that this conversation is taking place inside and outside the church. Both secular and sacred space is being made for friendships between men and women that don't have to turn sexual.
In his book Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions: Engaging the Mystery of Friendship Between Men and Women, Dan Brennan asks these questions:
What would our marriages, our friendships, our churches and our communities look like if men and women were not afraid of connecting with each other in deep ways? What if men and women could really know each other without sex getting in the way? What if we didn't have to be so afraid of our own and other's bodies that we cannot trust ourselves with them?He believes that people can enter fully into these friendships as embodied sexual beings without becoming romantic. He goes on to suggest that deep spiritual friendships between sexes may actually decrease the number of divorces.
In an interview conducted by Kathy Escobar, Brennan states that "you cannot have reconciliation between sexes without cultivating and nurturing friendships between the sexes." This statement is important to understand especially when women are invited to the table of leadership. Equality is not necessarily achieved by making space at the table or adopting a doctrinal view of women that allows them more freedom.
Equality is experienced when space is opened in the heart and the other is invited. Misunderstanding and barriers will persist if that space is assumed to be sexual rather than sacred.
When Brennan was asked what surprised him most about his cross-gender friendships, he offered two: His friendships with women challenged him to change his views about women in ministry and they helped deepen his love for and friendship with his wife.
In March 2011 Brennan launched "the sacred friendship project," a place to share stories of cross-gender friendships. Coming up at the end of this month in Chicago will be conference, a "sacred friendship gathering" for those who want to explore and encourage a deeper communion between men and women.
So what do you think about this conversation? Agree or disagree?