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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?
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.
They tend to involve the sharing of many aspects of each other's daily lives and routines.
Bottom line: I believe it is difficult and rare — as a practical matter — to honor these principles in the context of a close, intimate friendship between two single Christians of the opposite sex.
(For the verbally precise among you, I think such friendships between non-single Christians are also a bad idea, but that's not what we're talking about here.) Intimate friendships between men and women almost always produce confusion and frustration for at least one of the parties involved.
So is the trend toward intimate friendships between single men and women a good thing? If you haven't read my previous articles on biblical dating, you'll be helped in thinking through this issue by reading "Biblical Dating: How It's Different From Modern Dating." Based on some of the principles found there, let me offer a couple of practical reasons why I believe such friendships to be generally unwise, and then I'll suggest a positive role for friendship among singles in the Christian community.
In this series of articles, I've raised several biblical principles regarding the way we should treat our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Romans 13:8-14 calls us to love others, to work for their souls' good rather than looking to please ourselves.
More specifically, verse 10 reminds us that "[l]ove does no harm to its neighbor." Romans 14:1-15:7 offers a discourse on favoring weaker brothers and sisters above ourselves, valuing and encouraging that which is good in the souls of others.