Hands Off: Keeping a Physical Distance
- Thursday, May 24, 2012
EDITOR'S NOTE: He Said-She Said is a biweekly advice column for singles featuring a question from a Crosswalk.com reader with responses from a male and female point of view. If you've got a question about anything related to singleness or living the single life, please submit it to He Said-She Said (selected questions will be posted anonymously).
QUESTION: What is the best way to handle a Christian brother, one that you’re not in a serious dating relationship with, wanting to touch you, lay his head on your shoulder, and those uncomfortable things that you do not want to do, especially when he keeps telling you that he has self-control and makes light of this?
HE SAID: The key is to not “handle” him, but rather to RUN!
At times we may have a somewhat skewed interpretation of Scripture believing we must accept and condone improper behavior from a brother in the name of loving them.
The Bible tells us to “love one another” (John 13:34), but also to “conduct ourselves properly . . . not in sexual immorality and sensuality” (Romans 13:13) and to “confront him . . . if a believer does something wrong” (Matthew 18:15).
By excusing his behavior as controllable and making light of it, he knows what he is doing is improper and unacceptable. In the same way, if you allow him to carry on in this manner, without taking action, you are encouraging him to continue.
If you have no interest in dating this person, nor want him to invade your personal space, then you need to tell him bluntly and lovingly. Inform him you will not be spending any more time with him until he can show you some respect and control his neediness for affection and attention.
To further protect yourself, ensure you aren’t alone when he is in the vicinity by sharing this issue with a couple of close friends who will literally stand by you when he is near.
If he still won’t listen, tell the church (Matthew 18:17).
If he continues to try to touch and embrace you, take it up with a person in church leadership within the ministry you are both a part of. Ask them for help with the situation.
Within a dating, serious or even marriage relationship, you should never allow yourself to be persuaded, compelled or made to feel guilty in order to do uncomfortable things that you do not want to do.
Loving your brother doesn’t mean you have to put up with inappropriate conduct.
SHE SAID: Walk away. Or sit far, far away. That’s what I would do!
Has your request been made known? Yes. Is your Christian brother following the perimeters you have established for yourself and have communicated to him? No. So what does that tell you about this person?
If someone is not respecting your wishes when you have asked him to keep a distance and explained to him what makes you uncomfortable as it pertains to physical behavior, then why continue to put yourself in this situation? You are being disrespected.
“Loving your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31) does not imply that you are to endure treatment from others that makes you feel uncomfortable or that crosses boundaries into that which is inappropriate. As believers, we are not commanded to be doormats. But we are commanded to love. And I believe you are showing love by speaking truth to this man and telling him what he is doing that is making you feel uncomfortable. You are also showing love (to yourself) by not putting yourself into a situation that is unhealthy (for either you or this Christian brother).
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