Male bonding. Just writing that makes me cringe. As men, when we think about bonding – which we don’t think of very often – we usually relate to it in connecting with our wives or children. Let’s face it, the thought of emotionally bonding with another male is not exactly on our to-do list.
But men do need to bond with other men. In fact, it is perfectly normal and healthy for men to become emotionally attached and vulnerable with other guys. We see a great display of male bonding in the Bible between David and Jonathan.
David, who has been appointed by God as the next king of Israel is be-friended by the current king’s son, Jonathan. Together they forge a relationship of not only mutual respect but of love for one another. Because of his feelings for David, Jonathan goes against his father by warning David he is in danger from the king and must flee. Observe the emotions that are shared between the two friends as David prepares to depart.
“David got up from the south side of the stone and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept together, but David wept the most.” 1 Samuel 20:41.
That exchanged symbolized a true sense of affection that is rarely expressed by men today. In fact, if we think about men bonding with each other we are more likely to envision them discussing a football game or the new fleet of cars Ford is unveiling. The most physical contact you will see is the occasion half-hug.
While there is nothing wrong with this type of bonding, it is limiting and results in wasted opportunities to serve one another as true brothers in Christ. By keeping our emotions at a 10,000-foot level, we are missing out on moments where we can share emotional pain or personal struggles.
Limited bonding between men can result in men suffering in isolation as they struggle with demons that plague them. As men we are fearful of sharing our struggles with issues such as: pornography, marital problems, inadequacy, abuse of alcohol/drugs, and body issues to name a few. We are uncomfortable bringing up some subjects in fear of embarrassment or being judged as a “failing Christian”.
To prevent ourselves from getting stuck in shallow relationships with other men, we must take a risk and step out of our comfort zone and risk being rejected. For that is at the heart of what keeps men distance from other men – fear. We need to let down our guard and approach relationships with other men the way Jesus modeled. We should make an effort to focus more on how we can help each other rather than on how awkward it is to approach one another in love.
“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:13
Encouragement is only one benefit that can occur if men make a conscious effort to bond with other men. Together we can lift each other us and offer the support we need against a culture that inundates us with temptations and defines our success on false idols. Together we can band together and assist one another in walking a healthy, productive and rewarding Christian life.