Can't We Be Friends?
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
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).
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 saysmasculinity 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 immediatefamily. 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.