I’m a Christian who really appreciates ancient Jewish wisdom. I listen to your weekly podcast and own some of your CDs and books. My best friend, who I love dearly, has a pattern of becoming involved with men who have serious problems. She has been involved with a man for 5 years who has difficulty with sexual and emotional intimacy. He told her he has been this way his entire life – he is 54 – and has been to therapists to no avail. She has given a great deal of love, energy, compassion, and time trying to help him and understand him because he has “so many good qualities” and she knows if he could overcome this problem, they would have a wonderful relationship. She definitely has co-dependency issues, but she also says that God wants us to love and help other people and she can’t “abandon” this man just because of his problems.
I think she is misunderstanding God’s commandment. I can’t believe that God wants us to love other people even if it is self-destructive and hurtful to ourselves. Can you shed some light on this for me and give me some words of wisdom that I can share with her? She is such a loving, giving person and it hurts me to see her not loving and respecting herself.
Thank you for telling us of your appreciation for our resources. We prepare them with love.
We wish we had those words of wisdom that you could use to help your beloved friend. Unfortunately, even if we were as wise as Solomon, as adept with language as Shakespeare, and as convincing as Clarence Darrow, it would not help you. As parents painfully learn, unwilling ears will not hear.
Your friend has been involved with this man for five years. That means that she has invested a significant part of her life in this sad relationship. It is rare for anyone in that situation to acknowledge that it was all a waste. She is in a pit that you can help her emerge from only if she badly wants your help and asks you for your advice. This woman is not the first person to selectively look at the Bible in order to discover what she wants to find. We are pretty sure that we could prove just about anything by using a select Bible verse. Of course, the Bible is intended to be studied as a comprehensive entity.
It goes without saying that whether it concerns charity, or acts of loving kindness, our care for others mustn’t undermine our own life and that of our families. But we advise you not to imperil your friendship with her by telling her this. Try as best you can to maintain your friendship while remaining neutral about her ‘relationship’.
From what you say, your friend is behaving unwisely. Unfortunately, unless she turns to you for guidance, we see little that you can do other than stay present in her life and stand by for the fallout. Watching those we love make poor decisions is not easy.
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin
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