Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Why Can't We Be Friends?

I don’t read the Christianity Today Women’s blog frequently, but the topic caught my eye the other day. It was a post from a resident director of a dorm at Cedarville University. She was talking about the need for Christian colleges to provide meaningful friendships between the sexes. She poses the question, “will Christian colleges teach men and women to be friends?” and suggests that believers need to begin thinking of “new paradigms” for friendship between men and women. I think Christian students need opportunities to mingle and meet the opposite sex—but not primarily for the purpose of meaningful friendships alone.

We grew up in a culture saturated by the “Friends” mentality. Every girl wanted a guy best friend that she could live with platonically. And if she was Christian she just wanted the guy best friend, minus the same living quarters. It was cool. It was fun. But someone always got a little to into the friendship, crossed the “friend” line, and had the DTR talk (define the relationship). And then, the blissful friendship was over, or at the very least, extremely awkward.

Why is that almost always the case?

Could it be that we were never designed to be best friends with the opposite sex outside of commitment? This culture of close friends of the opposite sex has done a lot of damage to how we view relationships. It has allowed familiarity without the commitment. Suddenly we can have all of the perks of a relationship (companionship, being known, emotional intimacy, good conversation), but no commitment. We are just being familiar.

I have no male friends besides my husband. There is no one else that I bear my soul to. Prior to marrying him (and meeting him), I had no male friends either. I had a lot of acquaintances and spent a lot of time hanging out in groups, but no one had my heart. And to be honest, it was that much easier to give away when the man who is now my husband began pursuing me.

I agree that we need to foster meaningful relationships among the sexes, but boundaries with the opposite sex should extend much farther than the mere physical. Our longing for meaningful friendship with the opposite sex is stemming from a longing to be known and understood—ultimately to be married. Don’t allow a man to know you and understand you if he will not promise to do so for a lifetime—or at least try and date you to figure out if that is what God wants for the both of you.

Does this mean that single women should never have guy friends? Not at all. It just means that a single woman’s meaningful relationships should come from female friendships. These are friendships that will last and encourage you in your pursuit of marriage and godliness. Friendships with guys in a group setting can be extremely fulfilling and safe for everyone involved. You can call me old fashioned, or even crazy. That is fine. But I can honestly tell you that I do not regret the fact that I had no friendships to sever when I married my husband. My close friendships were with women and they were only strengthened when I said, “I do.”

It might seem fun and exciting to have meaningful individual friendships right now, but it will only make life difficult when the man who is to be your best friend forever comes along. We were designed to be known, loved, and intimate with one man only—our husband. And we shouldn’t settle for anything less.

For more reading on this topic, read Candice Watter's book Get Married: What Women Can Do To Help It Happen. I just finished reading it and wish I would have had it when I was single!

6 comments:

Crystal said...

Not related to the entire post... but I went to Cedarville :)

and thanks for the post. it was helpful.

Chelsea Bass said...

Before I was a Christian, all of my closest friends were guys. This frequently got me into trouble and led to lots of accusations and rumors in my very small high school. I just always found guys to be better, easier friends. They didn't get upset easily, or over ridiculous things. It was comfortable. Inevitably, though, after a certain amount of time the DTR talk would come my way. It would be painful. It would ruin us.

It wasn't until I was a Christian that I had great friends who were girls. I found that many Christian girls were a lot like the guys I once hung out with. They were as catty as other girls, were much more laid back about the little things, and weren't constantly gossiping and obsessing over who said what.

Now that I've been in Christian circles for many years, I see that women still do these things, but not to the same degree the world does. We still fight. Still gossip. We still get caught up in who said what. For the most part, though, each of us is running daily to the Lord, helping each other along the way, and dropping those sinful behaviors behind us as we go.

Friendship isn't easy just because you're a Christian, but it's worth the effort!

Chelsea Bass said...

In the second paragraph, they *weren't* as catty.

Rachel H. said...

Amen Courtney. These are incredible thoughts that most young people don't have any care about. This is a topic hard for me to explain or get my point across, and you have done such a beautiful job. I have made many mistakes in the past just like the situations you have described, but God has shown me through those mistakes how important it is to have deep, God-honoring friendships with my girls. :) By God's grace He has revealed to me how important it is to guard against becoming too close with guys. I want to wait for the most amazing friendship with a man to be with my husband. I very much look forward to all the perks of a relationship but WITH the commitment. I love how you said:

"We were designed to be known, loved, and intimate with one man only—our husband. And we shouldn’t settle for anything less."

You have no idea what a blessing this post is. Thank you so very much. I pray God uses it in mighty ways. I would love to pick your brain more. :D You have such insight!

cdt said...

Crystal,

Thanks for reading! I have heard nothing but good things about Cedarville!

Chelsea,
I totally relate to your situation. I was the exact same way before I got saved. And even after I became a believer I had a really self-righteous, "I just relate to guys better" mentality. Thankfully the Lord broke me of that. God has been so kind to give me great female friendships as I have grown in my walk with him. I don't deserve them! You are so right that friendship isn't easy as a believer, but I have found such fulfillment even in the hardness of Christian sisterhood. I only wish I would have yielded to the Lord's will in that regard sooner!

Rachel,
Thank you for reading! I am so glad that the Lord used it. By no means have I ever done this perfectly. I have many, many regrets about who I gave my heart to before my husband. But God has been faithful to restore and change my heart. Stay strong, sister! I have been where you are and know that in the world we live in it is not easy to have these convictions, even as Christians! And you can pick my brain anytime--even from far away!

Laura said...

Excellent post Courtney!