MoS: Friendship with Singles12:35 AM
Why do I always choose to talk about the tough subjects? Yet here I am again. Tackling a concept that I would rather not… We are going to talk about appropriate and edifying friendship with other singles. Personally, I love to gather with groups of other single Christian young people. If, for no other reason, than to observe the romantic undercurrents going on within the group. (I know, I know. What a twisted sense of humor I have!). No matter what method of the pursuit of marriage that you prefer: dating, courting, non-dating, etc., it usually begins friendship. And this is where the line of appropriateness in relationships gets easily blurred.
Some of this is my personal opinion, and speculation from what I have seen and learned throughout my life so far. The Bible doesn’t give specific rules of conduct between single ladies and men, so we will attempt to apply relevant principles.
1. Be Pure (in all Contact)
“Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.”
1 Timothy 5:1-2
My little brother (who is pretty grown-up now, at the amazing age of 19) is very affectionate to his sisters. And we’re cool with that. Because he is our brother, and we love him, and a nice brother who is openly affectionate should be commended!! My brother wraps his arms around me, plays with my hair and tickles me—totally cool. Hilarious and adorable. A guy friend, a brother in Christ, tries to do that to me—NOT cool! Because we are talking electricity! Currents of something running through my veins! Maybe he is clueless. Maybe it’s pure and innocent. Maybe it is unintentional.
You see, people have used the concept of spiritual brother/sisterhood to justify inappropriate physical contact between the genders. There is a one glaring difference between acceptable affection between *real* brothers & sisters and acceptable conduct between unmarrieds in the Body of Christ. The difference is: the inciting of passion.
“Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman.”
1 Corinthians 7:1
Don’t get me wrong, people—I don’t believe that it’s evil to tap someone’s arm to get their attention! But I don’t think Paul is referring to that kind of touching. Touch, in this context, insinuates touching that kindles or ignites passion.
A friend told me this funny story a few years ago. He walked up to a girl at church and just laid his arms on her shoulder. He was just being relaxed and friendly. Yet she jumped back and said, “Don’t touch me! I’m not yours!!!” She interpreted his actions as possessive, when he had no right to possess her body. And I give the girl props for speaking so clearly. (Her phrase became quite the byline in the youth group for awhile. So much that I had to run interference and warn the girls to speak in love and kindness!). “You are bought with a price; therefore, glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:20. I’m exhorting you ladies, guard that body of yours! It’s beautiful and naturally attractive. This is all the more reason to be holy (set apart) in body and spirit! (according to 1 Corinthians 7:34).
2. Consider Appropriate Conversation
For singles - I believe there are some subjects that are absolutely inappropriate to discuss between the genders. Mostly relating to sexual things. But also, I believe your primary spiritual accountability should be to a person of the same gender. It is foolish to bear your soul without restraint to someone of the opposite gender. This encourages an emotional intimacy and dependency that is unhealthy outside of the marriage covenant.
3. Have No Regrets
The fact of the matter is… there’s a 99.9999% chance that you are not going to marry this guy. Okay, maybe my statistics are faulty. I am trying to prove a point. Just because a guy is nice and Christian and happens to run in your circle of friends or go to your church or whatever, that doesn’t mean that he is going to marry YOU! Wisdom is operating under the assumption that he is going to marry someone else. And treating him that way. So in the end, when he stands on his wedding day with another Godly young woman at his side, you can honestly and wholeheartedly rejoice. With no regrets.
I’ve been blessed with some great friendships with Godly young men in my life. Had deep and sometimes long conversations. Talked about life, ministry, personal quirks, funny stories, relationships, marriage, and many other things. Encouraged, edified, laughed, wondered, smiled, rejoiced, commiserated, bantered, teased, spoken honestly and received another’s perspective. And there have been weddings. And probably will be many more weddings, until all of my friends are married off. :)
By the grace of God, I have no regrets. Nothing to be ashamed of. No guilt over my words or actions, because I have treated these young men as my brothers. The friendship remained pure in intention and execution, so I could rejoice with them on their days of rejoicing.
As a side note: “No regrets” doesn’t mean that the friendship stays the same. Marriage brings change, whether we like it or not. Practically, there are time constraints. And some changes are necessary, such as making allowances for safety. I know a woman who, when required to email a married man for whatever reason (ministry, etc.), always sends a carbon copy to his wife. Good for her! I have used the same concept at times to guard myself. We must avoid even the appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22).
4. Live in the Light
“… God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another…”
1 John 1:5-7
Practical Application: Never speak anything, write anything or express anything that you would be ashamed to let your parents know. (to those of you without Godly parents, never do anything that you’d be ashamed to let MY parents know! Just kidding! Actually, consider the wisdom of your spiritual leadership). Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Especially since I’m a 26-year-old, independent woman, living in my own house. The American within me cries out against submission to leadership. But the Christian within me (or rather, the Christ within me) humbly admits my need for oversight. I have a healthy sense of fear when it comes to guy/girl friendships. So much that if I have the slightest doubt about the appropriateness of my action, I check with my parents. I welcome their oversight and willingly volunteer information. Remember, if something has to be hidden, it’s probably sin.
To sum up, I believe it is entirely possible to have great, pure and edifying friendships with single members of the opposite sex. We must be seek wisdom and exercise caution, so that God is glorified in our friendships.