Luke 8:54

"And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid arise." Luke 8:54

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Can't We Be Friends?

Can't We Be Friends?

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Is it possible for guys and girls to be friends? 
For some of us this post might seem odd.  Some of you might be thinking -- "Uh, yeah, of course we can be friends."  But many conservative Christian young people have been taught or raised with the assumption that it is taboo to be friends with the opposite gender. If this is true in your case, this post is for you. 

So before we can answer our question of whether we can be friends, we should ask the opposite.  Why can't we be friends?
What exactly makes friendship with the opposite gender taboo in conservative circles?  There is probably a plethora of reasons, but one of the most common reasons given is the fact that being a friend with the opposite sex can lead to compromised purity or inappropriate behavior. 

The solution?  No being friends!  It's too risky. 

I have witnessed some people benefiting from this rule.  For some personalities, shunning friendships with the opposite gender does save them from temptation.  For others it makes them feel uncertain around the guy/girl.  For a majority of my womanhood I have leaned on the side of "better safe than sorry".  I desired to keep all of my heart for my future husband and if that meant not being friends with guys -- so be it.

The Bible does admonish us to keep our heart.  (Proverbs 4:23).  But does keeping our heart mean that we are to only have friends of the same gender?  Like with many practical issues, the Bible does not give black and white rules and regulations. 
So back to the original question:  Can we be friends with the opposite gender and still be pure?  Still keep our heart?   Well let's ask ourselves what a friend is.  Webster defines "friend" thus:

FRIEND, n. frend.
1. One who is attached to another by affection; one who entertains for another sentiments of esteem, respect and affection, which lead him to desire his company, and to seek to promote his happiness and prosperity; opposed to foe or enemy.  A friend loveth at all times. Prov 17.

This sounds intimate.  Someone you care about.  Will everyone be our friends?  Not likely.  From a woman's perspective, there are some young men it would be foolish to befriend.  They are only interested in your looks, your position, your body, etc.  They are selfish and even dangerous.  Of course we aren't going to be this man's friend.  For similar reasons we aren't going to befriend and selfish woman who likes us for shallow reasons.  Not everyone is going to be our friend.
A friend is someone you love.  Can you love a guy and keep your heart?  Webster defines friendship -- 

FRIEND'SHIP, n. frend'ship. 
1. An attachment to a person, proceeding from intimate acquaintance, and a reciprocation of kind
offices, or from a favorable opinion of the amiable and respectable qualities of his mind. Friendship differs from benevolence, which is good will to mankind in general, and from that love which springs from animal appetite. True friendship is a noble and virtuous attachment, springing from a pure source, a respect for worth or amiable qualities. False friendship may subsist between bad men, as between thieves and pirates. This is a temporary attachment springing from interest, and may change in a moment to enmity and rancor. There can be no friendship without confidence, and no confidence without integrity.There is little friendship in the world.The first law of friendship is sincerity.

If you are nobly and virtuously attached to someone out of pure motive you are this person's friend.  If you truly love them we also know from 1 Corinthians 13 that we won't be vaunting our self or seeking our own.  This is true friendship, no matter the gender.  If you are only temporarily attached from selfish interest this is a "false friendship".

I'd now like to address us ladies specifically. We can be friends with guys.  The question now is -- how to be friends with a guy?  A friendship with a guy is different in some aspects than a friendship with a girl.  
When we are keeping our hearts we're on guard-duty.  Keeping our hearts doesn't only have to do with keeping purity in friendships, but also keeping purity in every area.  With this in mind, we realize it's easier to keep our hearts in some things over others.  And if we are honest with ourselves we know it could be more challenging to keep our hearts diligently when we are close with a guy friend than with our girlfriends.
So if we can be friends -- how close is too close?  Can we share our hearts appropriately?  Or should our friendships with guys be limited to a certain degree? 

I think it's safe to say there are some boundaries that must be drawn -- even if only for appearance's sake.  There are things we steer away from so we are not a stumbling block.  We don't place ourselves in circumstances that are potentially tempting or dangerous just because we are free to be a guy's friend.  

I personally have had to learn exactly what God expects from me as a young woman in the lives of the men God has put into my life.  Growing up my best friends were my siblings so it wasn't as much of an issue until my family began to make close friends with other families.  

I've come to realize that I influence the men in my life whether I liked it or not.  Every look, comment, response and conversation is an opportunity to be a friend (or not). 

There's nothing unbiblical or scandalous in being a friend to a guy.  We just need to actually be a friend and care about them over ourselves.  That being said -- it's natural to appreciate and respect men, (and even find them interesting or attractive). 
In all honesty it is the feminists who promote that men and women are incompatible.  Think Gloria Steinem (Women without a man is like a fish without a bicycle).  It's Hollywood that says
masculinity and femininity are opposites.  It's our culture which promotes the "pink vrs. blue" stereotype. The world tries to put men and women at enmity with one another.

We are different!  God created us differently on purpose.  But just because our strengths and weaknesses are different doesn't mean we are incompatible, but only shows that we are meant to help and co-exist with one another.  Our differences makes us perfect puzzle pieces to each other.  In fact, women were created to purposefully help man.
Let's look at biblical examples of friendships.
Jesus was a friend to women.  Mary and Martha.   It can be done!  Of course Jesus was God incarnate and therefore perfect, but he was also 100% man, a priest made like us and tempted as we are.  (Hebrews 2:17 & 4:15)  He cared about them earnestly.  Was grieved when they grieved.  Sought out their companionship when he was tired.  Held meaningful discussions with them.  
Lydia (Acts 16), Mary (Romans 16), Pricilla (Acts 18), Phobe (Romans 16) and Euodia and Syntyche (Philppians 4) all were women who were friends of godly men. 

Being a friend isn't easy.  Being a young man's friend can be even harder.  But honestly shunning men as friends can be a cop out.  We have a choice when it comes to being a guy's friend.  We can be helpful, encouraging, selfless or we can be enabling, a stumbling block and selfish.  Faithful friends remind their companions of God's goodness.  Unfaithful friends distract.  

If we condone friendships with guys just so we can have our own way, so we can bait them or hunt them down, or gratify our flesh -- then obviously our heart motive is wrong and we aren't being true friends.  The solution isn't -- no friendship with males, but -- you need to get your heart right. 

Men are human just like us.  They aren't princes and they aren't chauvinistic cads.  They aren't women's gift from heaven and they aren't cavemen.  They are our brothers in Christ, our fellow human beings and people with emotions.  We can treat them like people.  It might take a little extra care because of the proneness of our hearts to sin, but it can be done.  

I'd like to also mention that we can be friends with our brothers (blood kin).  It's a little off topic, but the world discourages this as well.  We greatly influence the lives of our men in our immediate
family.  This is a privilege.  We can, without any hesitation, be eager listeners in their lives.  We can encourage their leadership skills.  We can enjoy their protection, inspire their chivalrous nature, motivate confidence by confiding in them, and enjoy their companionship.  If you have no interest in being your brother's friend I would encourage you to look at your motives for being any other guys friend.

Conclusion.  It's possible to be a true friend with some guys.  It is possible to be a false friend as well.  True friendship will take an effort on our part, and we have the choice whether to be a true or false friend.

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  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this, Toni! It is a topic I have pondered much and even wrote about in my book (I even use the example of Mary and Martha and Jesus). It is true that it comes down to the motive and the heart. I have found that my life has been greatly enriched by the men that I have allowed myself to be friends with. And you're right, this can't happen with every guy you meet and prudence must be exercised, but within those guidelines there is actually a LOT of liberty. They're people too! And we as women can greatly benefit from their different perspective on things. I like how you pointed out that it is feminism that has put such conflict between the sexes. So true! God designed us to augment and compliment each other, not live like it's a never ending standoff and war zone.
    Thank you again for writing this.

    1. Thanks Jana for your comment! I know this subject is a pet-passion of yours. :) And the older I get the more liberty I see in this "issue". Honestly, it is easier to be an extremist. It would be easier just to "go with" our emotions and just be and do everything our heart tells us, OR, to call everything off and shun mankind because it's safer.

      But like everything else in life, God's way is always balanced. We can co-exist with the men in our lives in charity and purity. There should be no guilt in being an appropriate friend with godly men. We are given the opportunity to do so in balanced purity.

    2. I know what you mean, Toni. It is far easier to go to one extreme or the other and I've always seen the need for it to be tempered by Godly principles. All of our relationships (male or female) need a Biblical foundation and should be approached with a heart of giving and self-sacrifice, which means doing what is best for the other person. I have sometimes refrained from being friends with a guy because I knew HE couldn't handle it. I may have been fine, but it would have given him the wrong idea and therefore it behooves me to act accordingly.
      It really is a matter of maturity as well. Some things that a 14 year old can't handle a 30 year old can. It is also different based on the individuals. That's why cut and dried "rules" about these things often don't work. Principles are good and healthy, but rules just create an unnecessary tension and can often lead to the extremes that you talked about.

    3. Agreed Jana! Amen. :) Can't wait for that book of yours. :) Not like your super busy right now... :) Love you and see you oh so soon!

    4. Yeah, the wedding kind of takes priority right now ;) Looking forward to seeing you too! BTW, you, Liss and Nay are invited to a girls only gathering the night before the wedding at Sasha's house around 8:00. Hope to see you there!
      Love you too!

  2. Really,really liked this Toni. Something I've thought about,this really puts in into perspective. I totally agree with everything you said,it is very possible to be friends with a guy but not past friendship status. That line from "friend" to something more is so easily crossed, especially in the world today. I think in the world you can't really have a friendship with a guy without going past the friendship status.
    Thanks for sharing Toni, really liked this post. Praying for you,


    1. Thank you Tasha! I'm glad you liked this post. It IS possible to be friends with a guy. Along with this subject comes the inevitable issue of what you called "going beyond friendship status". It is often admonished to "guard your heart" -- and not only do we shun friendship with males we somehow have the idea that "falling in love" is also taboo. I hope to address this assumption a little in my next post called "Missing: Biblical 101 on Guy Friends". :) Love you dear, thanks for being such a faithful MA reader. You encourage me.

    2. I quite agree, thanks for your comment Toni. I am interested and looking forward to reading you "Missing: Biblical 101 on Guy Friends."
      Thank you for the blog,MA is a blessing to me. :) Love you,


  3. Well done. I'd be curious to see you expound on this. I really don't think opposite gender relationships have to be quite so difficult as our culture makes them out to be. I've found it's almost like these things are awkward only because I know that they're *supposed* to be. If I didn't know it was thought to be awkward or unsure, it wouldn't be. Not sure if that makes sense. :) I read something recently and as I can't claim this is anywhere near what it said, this is the gist and the thoughts it sparked; if, instead of viewing men and women and their relationship with each other as either being total opposites with no hope of common ground, chauvinistic pigs and emotional wrecks, or someone to hunt and capture, we instead view each as being fellow ambassadors of Christ, to help each other in the mission of furthering Christ's kingdom here on earth. Now I know these are extremes and probably few of us reading your article fall into any of the first category, but just realizing we are all fellow soldiers for Christ, to be helpers and aids, sharing the same purpose, working towards the same goal was helpful to me. Looking forward to the post you mentioned in the comments.

    1. Well said Ems! I know what you mean about situations only being awkward because they're supposed to be. And I really appreciated what you shared about viewing guys as fellow soldiers of Christ. It's true. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  4. " The solution isn't- no friendship with males- but get your heart right!" That made me laugh! Ha-ha. So true! Thank you for sharing this Toni. I think you are right on. I appreciated the definitions of friendship and how you mentioned that it is the world's stereotype that makes them at odds with each other. I grew up with the mindset that girls and guys weren't able to be friends. But it's been good and needed to grow in this area. I'm thankful for the young men that God has put in my life that are very much my friends and a great blessing and encouragement to my heart! It can be done right. And it can be appropriate and pure. And it can be one of life's greatest blessings- Godly friends. Thanks for sharing this. Looking forward to your next post on this. :)

    1. Thanks Nay! There is something so liberating and godly in balanced relationships. I too am so thankful for the men God has placed in my life to encourage and be friends with. You're right -- it can be done! :)