I sometimes find myself jealous when I hear of people who have been friends all of their lives into advanced adulthood. It doesn't seem to happen often in our society where everything is so mobile, cheap, throw-away and recyclable. Friendship always comes across as a means to an end and easily dismissed when the need is gone. But why should this surprise us? Friendship is work and dangerous work at that.
Another unfortunate aspect of our culture (I speak here specifically of Americans) is that for men deep friendships have been denied for so long because to do so opened one's self to the accusation of being a homosexual. Do not be fooled into thinking this is something old and that we moderns are any better with our philosophy of tolerance and moral freedom. People today make the same mistake people did fifty years ago. For example, what might be the typical response to the following poem by Israel's King David following the death of his friend Johnathan?
Jonathan lies slain on your high places.
I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
very pleasant have you been to me;
your love to me was extraordinary,
surpassing the love of women. (2 Sam 1:25-26)
For our grandparents they might have said or thought something derogatory about these two men. Perhaps calling the "fags" or pansies. Today they might point to this as proof that David had homosexual relations with Jonathan proving that such relationships are godly(!). But both these mindsets in actuality obscure the whole point of the passage and destroy any chance of something beautiful and good. That is, there is such a thing as a friendship between two men that is loving, caring, fulfilling and deeply affectionate while at the same time having absolutely nothing to do with sex. Such relationships were sometimes difficult in the past because most men did not want to be seen as gay. Such relationships today have remained difficult for the exact same reason. Even among men who may have nothing against gay men in general they would rather not be in a relationship that continually is assumed to be homosexual when in fact it is not. I suspect this is exactly what many women have struggled with when having a purely platonic relationship with a man; a relationship everyone assumed must be more than a friendship when it was not. I'm not saying men cannot push past these social prejudices, but for many men the risk is seen as not being worth the effort. We are quite wrong in this assessment, but that is just the way it is. And as a result we miss out on something truly wonderful.
There are many other reasons men go a lifetime with no male relationships deeper than that found among coworkers or the neighbor you ask to borrow a ladder from once in a while. Laziness, fear of rejection, past experiences, lack of knowledge, etc. And my point of this post is not to address all of these or even give advice on how to overcome them. Rather my point in posting this is to say these friendships are, most of the time (I won't say all of the time), well worth the effort and will yield a wonderful harvest if we but provide a little seed and cultivation. Yes, it is work, but work well worth the rewards.