"Many a man proclaims his own loyalty, but who can find a trustworthy man?" - Proverb 20:6
As people grow closer to one another in friendship, the bond of trust also naturally strengthens. Yet too often the amount of accountability in the relationship decreases with the same elegant equivalence as the heavy side of a see-saw.
It might seem that this is how it should be; doesn't trust enable relaxation?
Today I read another excellent blog post by Doug Wilson. In one of the comments, a heartbreaking testimony is given by a woman who, years ago, was shamefully treated by her youth minister; this abuse didn't happen in the context of some unfathomable situation, but rather in the context of a situation which most of us probably never would have thought twice about. He was just giving her a ride home.
Stories like this are all too common.
Is the answer to turn the old adage into a life motto- "Trust no one"? Should we have an inner circle of friends that consists of Me, Myself, and I, and maybe my spouse on a good day? Should the thought of a man at church shaking our daughter's hand send us scurrying for our shotgun?
Of course not. It is good for Christians to grow in the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace; we should indeed be able to trust one another (to whatever extent that trust has been earned).
Truth of the matter is, if I were to leave behind a widowed wife or father-and-brotherless sisters, there's no one on this earth that I would trust to care for them more than the families that attend my church. I would trust them with my life, my family, my possessions. That's what Christian friendship should lead to.
But that trust cannot be defined in such a way as to ignore the truth and inherent warning of Jeremiah 17:9. I love and trust these people as my family in Christ. But I know that their heart is deceitful and desperately wicked... and I know mine is too.
If our friendships are truly Christ-centered, truly open, truly free and honest, then there should be no shame in holding one another to boundaries. We must not hide from the truth of our own sin nature.
If I ask a young lady to sit in the back seat and let my sister ride next to me up front- if a man from church says to my mom "hey, could we carbon-copy your husband on these e-mails?"- if a parent asks to sit in on their child's piano lessons- if a couple won't leave their children overnight at a friend's house for a sleepover (where did the idea that that was normal come from anyway?!?)- these are things that should not be a cause for awkwardness; they should be a cause for more trust. I trust you because I can see that we both don't trust either of us left to ourselves; we both know that it is only by the Grace of Christ that we can continue to walk in holiness; we both desire to flee temptation.
If we are truly hungry for holiness, then we should be happy when we find comrades who won't let us check out the other side of the menu.
It's not a matter of "eew, you might be a creep, no, my daughter can't ride with you alone for 8 hours to visit her aunt." It's a matter of "but by the grace of God, we all would be creeps, so let's do our level best to help each other walk in the light and flee temptation."
It's not a matter of "I think you're a wolf in sheep's clothing" (although if you see a fang or a long gray tail, that wouldn't be an inappropriate observation); it's a matter of "we all have the heart of a wolf clothed in the robes of the Lamb, and until that wolf is slain in Glory this sheep will wrestle with the hunger pangs of a carnivore."
There is no benefit to be found by leaving the eyesight of the Shepherd or His flock; there is nothing to be gained outside of the confines of His pastures.
If anyone is afraid of boundaries, or uncomfortable with accountability, or maybe just thinks they are unnecessary- indeed, if anyone does not desire the transparent honesty of some form of protective standards- then that should be reading danger symbols on the Trust-o-meter.
"Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall." - 1 Corinthians 10:12