Ask my parents who my closest friends have been my entire life, and they’ll tell you it has always been them, my sister, and boys. Not in a weird always-crushing-and-being-a-hopeless-romantic kind of way, but in a hiking and biking and dancing and building and drama-isn’t-really-my-thing, and never has been kind of way.
Enter the year 2013. My best friend is a guy. Here we are.
And, I’m a Christian.
Haha. I’m just kidding. But, only a little bit. I cannot even begin to express how hounded I have been by others in the church who were quick to ask me if my friend and I were dating, and when I said that we weren’t, be sure to tell me that it looked like we were. Duh. Hanging out with anyone can look like that these days. And they have always been sure to make sure they can make me feel like I have no idea what I’m doing, and that being best friends with the opposite sex is basically the seed of Satan. I wish I was exaggerating. No matter how good the “intention” may be, it’s not always good.
This entire post will make a point, but let’s start here. Gossip is gossip, even if you’re asking someone about their personal life and you’re a Christian. Is it your place to know? Are you even a close enough friend to ask? Should you respond with any sort of opinion without listening? Have you been in this place before, and do you know the deep hearts of the parties involved? Those are pretty important questions to ask. Because I assure you, if you don’t listen to me, nor seek to understand, I won’t be coming to you to speak anymore. And I’m not the only one.
The point is, be careful. And the other point is, don’t assume that others are always living in sin. It is possible that two people enjoy the same hobbies, and seek the same Lord, and have been able to live true siblingship in Christ. And it’s also possible that we could all learn a thing or 12 from that.
Now, moving on. I do know that opposite sex friendships are kind of a scary thing for most Christians, because we’ve all been (at least if we’re past our teens), in a place to be hurt by someone of the opposite sex. But this is where I take a stand. I don’t think that Jesus said that the girls were to stand on one side of the room and the boys were to stand in another room, just to make sure we don’t slip into adultery. No, just like every other sin, Jesus tells us to be alert. But He also tells us He’s overcome. So, if you’re wondering how exactly you can have a best friend who you don’t intend to marry, check out these helpful points.
There are definitely challenges that come with opposite sex friendships.
1) Hormones. Hello, I’m 23. And my best friend is 24. We’re basically hormonal animals. We never know when we’re going to be attracted to someone and we rarely know if we should actually act on what we feel. It’s likely that, if spending enough time with someone in a place, the idea of connecting on a romantic level will cross your mind 1 or 50 times. And, that’s normal. What matters then, is what you do with that. We’ll get to how to manage that further down.
2) Later relationships. Yup, if you’re best friends with someone, it’s not okay to later date them because they are about to like someone else and that might leave you with less time with them. Jesus is in control of that, and you’re not meant to marry everyone. Sit tight and be siblings. It’s actually a lot of fun, and if you continue to listen to Jesus, it’ll probably be more incredible as the years go on.
3) Society. Have you listened to pop music lately? If you have, and it’s the only thing you’d ever heard, you would assume that everyone is drunk, high, and having sex always. If you have only heard Miley Cyrus, you would assume that it’s actually IMPOSSIBLE to stop doing things that are bad for your person. Cuz that’s what the song says, and it must be true, right? Wrong. That’s not real life. We’ll get to that too.
Now, how do we deal with those?
1) Seek the Lord with a pure and open heart on your own. There is nothing quite like needing to have a pure heart that will continually push you to Christ. I love my best friend. He’s a big brother to me, and as 1 Corinthians says, love protects. If I really am seeking Christ in our relationship, I would always aim to protect his heart. I wouldn’t do things that I know will cause him to stumble, and he would protect me, doing the same. That’s love. And that leads to us knowing Christ more fully.
2) Communicate. I know, this seems simple, but that’s most of Satan’s hold in our lives. If he can keep us from speaking with each other and holding our lives out in the light, then we are going to be fumbling around in the dark with each other. And I can promise you, that’ll lead to a mess in more ways than one. Be honest. Be honest. Be honest. If you’re nervous about something, talk about it. Read the Bible. Apply truth. Don’t listen to your fear, and trust that in Christ, we actually can speak about all things.
3) Seek Christ together. I know that we can have non-Christian relationships like this, but I also know that without something to seek together, people run out of hobbies and make one another their hobbies really, really fast. Do not do that. If you’re not seeking Christ together, there’s a serious problem (in any relationship really). Do you care about this person? Then point them to Christ. And the reality is that they probably will do the same. My best friend and I worship and pray and encourage our friends together. We speak honestly and openly, and point out each other’s sin. And we feel so alive in that.
Now, why are these relationships worth it?
1) The Bible says so. Galatians 6:10 – “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all [men], especially unto them who are of the household of faith. “That means boys and girls. And we’re in the same family, under the same Father. Brother and sister. And that means that there must be some value in having fellowship with another in the body of Christ, no matter what gender they are.
2) There is a lot to learn from the opposite sex. A ton, in fact. Have questions about how you should be treated? Need to know if you should or shouldn’t date someone? There’s a good chance that the opposite sex (if they’re using their Biblical wisdom), will be able to guide you in that. And there’s an even better chance that they can help you heal from pain from that past. They shouldn’t fill a void, but they should be able to help you make sense of pain.
3) It’s a lot of fun. To find someone who understands you, and who is understood by you, is a wonderful thing. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have other friends (Most healthy relationships do have many other sources of energy…even if you’re married to your best friend.) but that doesn’t mean that you have to only have friends who are of the same sex because you’re afraid of the stumbling that it could lead to. I laugh a lot. And so does he. Because there are things that, as a female, I can think more solidly about than my friend can, and he himself can think more solidly about than I.
Of course, these relationships take some awareness, but so do friends who are of the same gender. Anyone can cause others to stumble. Even in sexual ways. The point is, eyes on Christ. Soak up Christ. Let Christ love you, and protect each other’s hearts. Maybe you’ll get married someday, but you were meant to be brother and sister before anything else. And for now, that’s all you have to be. At worst case, you and your future spouse have another best friend in the body of Christ forever.
Oh, and Jesus uses love. Always, and forever. Don’t stop Him.
And that’s awesome. 🙂
…because love wins.
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