Lack of attention to friendship is an enormous gap in most evangelical discipleship. I could build a very tall soapbox on this subject, but I have neither the time nor authority to offer a general sort of rant. Rather, I want to consider a question that becomes particularly troublesome for many young adults: the question of friendships between men and women.
I don't mean to minimize the real concerns many Christians have about these friendships, but I am convinced that in Christ, it is possible for men and women, whether married or unmarried, to be friends. I also know that like most human endeavors after holiness, these friendships need a lot of grace to keep from going wrong. Today, I'm interested in naming that grace. To begin the conversation, here are a few of the principles I've derived from observing successful, even holy, male/female friendships:
* Like many strong friendships, they begin not with admiration of one another, but with some common interest or participation in a common work. Conversations and time together tend to strengthen these shared commitments.
* They are usually part of a larger friendship network consisting of both men and women, such as Sunday School classes or lifegroups.
* If one or both of the friends are married, spouses are integrated and welcomed into the friendship.
Do you believe men and women can sustain strong friendships? How does the Bible guide us on this subject? How have you sustained opposite-gender friendships as an adult?