Before continuing with this article, please review the preamble included at the beginning of part 1 of this series, "Biblical Dating: How It's Different From Modern Dating." * * * PART 2: Men Initiate, Women Respond » One of the big questions hovering around the topic of courtship and dating is the role of friendship.
How intimate of a friendship with someone of the opposite sex is OK? Won't the friendship be ruined if one of us expresses romantic interest and the other doesn't respond favorably?
Why risk harm to your own heart or to that of a brother or sister to have a type of companionship that, outside of marriage, is arguably questionable anyway?
This brings me to my second argument against intimate one-on-one friendships between brothers and sisters in Christ. Men and women who are not called to long-term singleness and celibacy have a strong desire for companionship with a member of the opposite sex. As I've discussed before, Scripture seems to consider marriage (and children) to be a normal part of the progression toward biblical manhood and womanhood (see, among others, Genesis -28; -24; Matthew -41; Luke -36).
Ladies, might there be men who would have initiated with you but for their uncertainty about or discomfort with your intimate friendship with another man?
Guys, has a woman perhaps turned you down over questions about a woman friend you spend lots of time with?
As you probably know, I believe Scripture to teach that engaging in the types of emotional intimacy and companionship involved in close male-female friendships — outside of marriage and for their own sake — is wrong (see else I've ever written for Boundless).
Certainly, a man can find himself in a similar position with a woman he's attracted to, but given his obligation to be clear and intentional with the woman and to initiate the type of relationship he truly desires, he arguably has placed — or at least kept — view your "friendship"?First Thessalonians 4:1-8 admonishes us not to wrong or "defraud" our brother or sister by implying a marital level of commitment (through sexual involvement) when it does not exist.As I've discussed before, a broad (but sound) implication of this passage is that "defrauding" could include inappropriate emotional — as well as physical — intimacy.Let's assume for the sake of argument that your intimate friendship is one of those rare jewels that is devoid of the potential for hurt or confusion. In the past, when both sexual immorality and intimate male-female friendships were much less accepted and less common in society, men and women moved more deliberately toward marriage earlier in life.By offering a taste of the companionship and interactions that make marriage so satisfying, with none of the accompanying commitments or responsibilities entailed in marriage, intimate friendships discourage the pursuit of the grown-up, God-intended outlet for marital desires — marriage.Basically, the question seems to be how exactly single Christians should relate to members of the opposite sex in that large and awkward zone between "we've never met" and a deliberate dating or courting relationship. I won't repeat the full history lesson here, as several Boundless authors have already discussed it (Joshua Rogers most recently, in his excellent piece "Your Friendgirl Deserves Better").Essentially, the historical reality is that until 30 or 40 years ago, long, intimate friendships between men and women in which each served as the other's emotional confidante, relationship adviser and "best buddy" were far less common than they are today.Unlike most other people of our age and experience, we are (insert favorite answer here) a) really astute students of our own and each other's hearts, b) -clear and talented communicators, c) always honest with each other, even when such honesty entails huge vulnerability for whoever is speaking, d) all of the above." Maybe.But here I would pose the question that is relevant to so many aspects of the courtship and dating topic.Yes, I know, the other person is an adult who is free and responsible to walk away if he or she is so unsatisfied, but like it or not, it tends not to work that way. Especially if it's the woman in this position (as seems to be the case more often than not) she will likely feel that if she pushes for something more than friendship, she may lose the interaction and companionship she currently has.Still, given her desire for a husband — and perhaps to have man as her husband — the status quo of "just really good friends but nothing more for some odd reason" will leave her unsatisfied, frustrated and confused.