(CAN MEN & WOMEN REALLY BE “JUST FRIENDS”?)
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that he will also reap (Galatians 6:7)
The above question, though easily phrased, is not one that can get an easy answer. And quite interestingly, whatever answer that we might come up with does not only impact on relationships between singles male and females but also between one married person and an unmarried person, genders irrespective.
In the course of our daily lives, we usually have varied causes to interact with persons of the opposite sex; at work, socially and even in church. Our service in God’s work usually leads to join one or more Church units where we would be constrained to work with persons of the opposite sex. In the course of this service, friendships and bonds that may seemingly transcend the platonic develop.
So what do these bonds look like? Could they remain innocent and not blossom any further than the ordinary allows? Should they even exist? Does God forbid them? Are they inappropriate or essential in healthy church relationship?
I will go ahead and admit that it is difficult for two people of opposite sexes who have developed a bond to work together in close quarters and not develop some kind of vaguely defined feelings for themselves. Sometimes, it becomes even more complicated when the extra feelings only emanate from one party while the other has innocent intentions. The spark of sexual immorality may be a glance or a lingering touch. Imagine the magnitude of the danger when one of such parties is married. This may lay the foundation for romantic affairs that begin innocently and end in awkwardness, animosity or embarrassment.
Since the presumption is that any such male–female relationship will be a relationship between two Christians, the ideal starting point for such a relationship would be to count the cost and ascertain whether you have enough to see it through (Luke 14:28). It is therefore helpful to critically assess the nature of that relationship and weigh its risks, devise necessary but discreet boundaries and consequently reap the beautiful benefits from the relationship. God rewards appropriate boundaries. The path of life leads upwards for the prudent that he may turn away from sheol beneath? (Proverbs 15:24)
So it would appear that men and women really can just be friends and nothing more. The key is to exercise self-control, humility, clarity, honesty, community and accountability and just enjoy the good that comes from these relationships without expectations of more. But if there is any inclinations that relating with that other person is likely to cause us imperfection, would it be prudent to remain in that relationship? “All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful”. (1Cor 10:23)
Our wariness of crossing the line should however not prevent us from enjoying healthy male–female relationships in Christ. “Love your neighbour as myself: I am the Lord!” (John 13:35). Rather, let us be exercise wisdom, avoid reproach and be great friends with God Christ.
Written by Temitayo Ogunmokun