From popular teacher and writer Bronwyn Lea, a biblical invitation to healthy male-female relationships by creating a vision beyond stilted and unhelpful don't-touch/don't-talk rules.
When it comes to relationships between men and women in the church, we've got more questions than answers. How can men and women be in community when not married? Or if married, with people not our spouses? Can men and women be "just friends"? How can we date wisely and well? What does it mean to be a woman if you're not a wife? Or a man if you're not a husband? How can we be in healthy, close relationships if we're single?
In Beyond Awkward Side Hugs, Bronwyn Lea lays out a biblical vision for relationships between men and women in the church. Jesus' pattern for church living was one of family, of brothers and sisters living in intimate, healthy community with each other. Doing so calls for character and wisdom, for charting a path toward relationships that acknowledge gender but aren't sexualized, that go beyond the awkwardness of simplistic don't-touch/don't-talk rules.
Rooted in Scripture and attested by personal and pastoral stories, Beyond Awkward Side Hugs is an invitation to relationship theology that moves beyond unhealthy, eroticized, fear-based patterns and toward gendered, generous relationships between men and women of character, loving one another as Jesus did.
It Doesn’t Have to Be This Weird
When it comes to relationships between men and women, we have more questions than answers:
How do we keep relationships with the opposite sex healthy—and still hug each other after small group?
Is it possible for married men and women to be friends with people of the opposite sex?
What does it mean to be a woman if you’re not a wife, or a man if you’re not a husband?
Jesus’ pattern for church living was one of family—of brothers and sisters living in intimate, life-giving community with each other. With story, sensitivity, and hope, Beyond Awkward Side Hugs invites us to leave behind eroticized, fear-based patterns and move toward gendered, generous relationships between men and women of character as we love one another as Jesus did.
“Beyond Awkward Side Hugs is a deep well of biblical wisdom, and Lea has written with nuance and clarity, humor and grace.”
—Jen Pollock Michel, author of Surprised by Paradox and Keeping Place
“The church desperately needs a bigger vision for how men and women can flourish together in ministry and friendship, and Bronwyn Lea paints a vivid picture for how we’ll get there.”
—Steve Wiens, author of Shining Like the Sun, Beginnings, and Whole
I am so excited to have had the opportunity to read Bronwyn Lea’s new book Beyond Awkward Side Hugs to ensure that as Christians we should be able to openly and honestly discuss sexuality in any type of relationships whether in a marriage or single. Through looking at relationships as a family of brothers and sisters living in this community and intimately challenging our thought process and how we can make it not awkward and still following Jesus’ teachings and using the Bible as a foundation.
Lea wrote clearly and with practicality using examples and stories and highlighting important topics and issues. The chapters are short and very well organized. I found that it did not preach, but pragmatic and very light hearted and very enjoyable to read.
I highly recommend this book and will be sharing with my family and friends.
Bronwyn Lea is a writer, bible teacher, lawyer and ice-cream addict with twenty years of pastoral ministry experience. She heads up Propel Sophia, the Christian living wisdom resource for Propel Women, and is on the pastoral staff of her local church. Bronwyn is mom to three school-aged kids, who keep her somewhere between hilarious laughter and desperate prayer on any given day. She and her fellow South African husband live in Northern California, where they count the men and women in their church as not just friends, but family.