I have several brothers. My older one is close in age. I remember when he got old enough to think girls were pretty cool, not to mention just pretty. After a couple of years, the girls started thinking he was kind of cute, too. His dating life took off, and before I knew it, he had a steady girlfriend.
Eeuww, gross! I remember thinking. What does she see in him? How can she stand to even kiss him? Ick!
Fast forward a few years, to young adulthood. I matured enough to become actual friends with my brother. I could admit that he was an attractive, good-looking guy who deserved his fair share of female attention. But no matter how close our relationship, no matter what he looked like, I was never the least bit physically attracted to him myself.Is my brother a man? Of course. Does he have all the correct body parts, hormones, and genetics that other males have? Yes. So why is he different from any other guy I might become attracted to? Why isn’t he sexually appealing to me?
Because he’s not a “real” guy--he’s my brother! He’s that other child of my parents, who even looks a little like me, who shares my family and history and heritage. He’s the guy who tortured me emotionally (and sometimes physically) for—oh, 18 years or thereabouts. My love for him does not involve one bit of sexual attraction. Blegh!
Thankfully, someone else has put this theory into print. Sarah Sumner, in her book Men and Women in the Church, reflects on the time she shared an apartment with her brother when they were both in their twenties. “For him, it was taboo to think of me, his sister, as a potential sexual partner. I was ‘just Sarah’ to him. He thought of me as ‘Sis.’ So far was he from feeling any impulse to exploit me that he felt protective of me.”
Common sense, millennia of history, and the Word of God tell us that, except for husband and wife, family members are not meant to be sexual partners. Deuteronomy 27:22 says, "Cursed is the one who has sexual relations with his sister, the daughter of either his father or mother.”
The sibling love that many brothers and sisters share demonstrates that feelings of endearment between members of the opposite sex need not be confused or entangled with sexual attraction. Experience and history attest to this truth about human nature.
Most of us are thinking…um, yeah, this just isn’t an issue for me. We hope that’s the case. So let’s take it one step further—if biological brothers and sisters can manage it, can men and women not related by birth or law share an affectionate, yet nonsexual, relationship? How could this premise affect sacred siblings who work together regularly?
What do you think? We believe that if you were blessed with a biological brother growing up, these relationships can help you thrive as you work with men in ministry. In the upcoming blogs we will look at specific benefits of growing up with a biological brother. If you did, begin thinking about how you could use those insights to more effectively work with men in ministry today.