In the Sunday New York Times (you have to register, but it’s free) there is an article by Jennifer Lee on what is now being called the “man date”:
Simply defined a man date is two heterosexual men socializing without the crutch of business or sports. It is two guys meeting for the kind of outing a straight man might reasonably arrange with a woman. Dining together across a table without the aid of a television is a man date; eating at a bar is not. Taking a walk in the park together is a man date; going for a jog is not. Attending the movie Friday Night Lights is a man date, but going to see the [New York] Jets play is definitely not.
Apparently there is an awkwardness to such situations because, well, lots of people might think the two guys are gay, when they are simply two guys eating dinner together as friends (remember that word?).
One of the office staff, who shall remain anonymous, responded to this article and some interoffice comments about it:
Most of my man dates never get beyond foreplay. We eat beef jerky, engage in some provocative box-score exchanges, and then share meaningful bench-press exploits . . . But we never actually arm wrestle. (Sigh.)
This made me laugh very hard. Still, the story does raise the point that male friendships have been complicated by mainstreaming the “gay” subculture. The article in the Times goes on to talk about Jim O’Donnell. A professor of business and economics at Huntington University in Indiana
who said his life had been changed by a male friend, [he] urges men to get over their discomfort in socializing one on one because they have much to gain from the emotional support of male friendships. (Women understand this instinctively, which is why there is no female equivalent to the awkward man date; straight women have long met for dinner or a movie without a second thought.)
“A lot of quality time is lost as we fritter around with minor stuff like the Final Four scores,” said Mr. O’Donnell, who was on the verge of divorce in the mid-1980’s before a series of conversations over meals and walks with a friend 20 years his senior changed his thinking. “He was instrumental in turning me around in the vulnerability that he showed,” said Mr. O'Donnell, who wrote about the friendship in a book, Walking With Arthur. “I can remember times when he wanted to know why I was going to leave my wife. No guy had ever done that before.”
What the article doesn’t mention is that Jim O’Donnell, as he makes clear in Walking with Arthur, was led to Christ through his friendship with Arthur, who says of O'Donnell’s description of what transpired in their friendship as “more like the work of the Holy Spirit.” It’s a very Christian, though very understated, book that doesn’t focus very much on Christianity, but on the friendship and the changes that took place in Jim’s thinking and life because of his friendship with Arthur.
At the time he met Jim, Arthur was a new Christian, and he claims that “Jim saw and heard only what he needed to in order to bring him closer to God.” Arthur says that Jim also helped him through his friendship and honest questioning, and that if he, Arthur, had been given Jim’s writing skills, he “would be writing a book called Walking with Jim.”
Male friendships are evident in the Bible--David and Jonathan, Jesus and the disciples, and “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” and throughout history. Though our culture wishes to cast gay shadows on these, as it routinely does with David and Jonathan. I don’t know why this is the case, except as an attempt to trash our tradition.
I remember in highschool meeting male friends downtown just to hang out, go to a museum; sometimes we attended a concert, went to a movie, or just spent time together as friends, and no one thought anything of it. It was natural, though today it seems similar outings would be suspect—and they certainly shouldn’t be called “dates” which has the wrong connotation. Our current situation is unfortunate, even tragic, for friendships of a non-sexual nature would go a long way in restoring sanity to our sex-saturated culture. Women have these friendships, as noted in the article, why not men?
In Jim O’Donell’s Walking with Arthur, we have the story of one such friendship that saved a soul and a marriage. Surely there must be others.