Those who immediately answer “yes” can hurl as many barrels of anecdotal evidence as those who scream “no.” Few treat this as a legitimate issue — opinions are given in a tone that implies that the very question violates common sense. As we ask the question, “Can women and men be friends? Between a married person and anyone other than their spouse, the friendship should end immediately. It seems to me, after considering the biblical evidence, that male-female friendships lean even more heavily on a process that exists in all friendships: We usually undergo this process subconsciously with each new relationship: evaluating whether the relationship will be detrimental to ourselves or disobedient to God, and if it is not, identifying healthy parameters to make the relationship as fruitful as possible, and finally enjoying the ongoing benefits of the relationship. One person has completely innocent or friendly intentions, and the other falls in love. Are they obviously inappropriate, or undeniably essential in healthy church community? To start, multiple What do these friendships look like? Does God prohibit them, or are they vital to the body of Christ?So what is the appropriate path for female-male friendships?
Since any godly male-female friendship will be friendship between two disciples of Christ, the first step in building that friendship is to “count the cost, whether [you have] enough to complete it” (Luke ). Male-female friendship always brings the possibility for awkwardness, for conflict, for heartache. Whether we’re the desiring or the desired, let’s be honest with ourselves: do we both want the same thing from this friendship?“‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful” (1 Corinthians ).What is good for some is not profitable for all — and may be harmful.Patterns of one-on-one intimacy between members of the opposite sex cultivate the kind of intimacy that leads to romance. ” If your attitude about your intimacy is relaxed, it is likely set to blaze.It’s common for single people to be demonized as the “temptresses” or the “bait,” while the married folk are just the victims of preying mistresses (or misters).But friendships between men and women in the church are one holy expression of the hard-fought intimacy God has earned for us in Christ (Galatians ), especially as we draw others into those friendships as safeguards.All the effort we put into boundaries and clarity both honors and enacts this gift — a gift that shouldn’t be prohibited when there are appropriate lines of sight with people informed and involved enough to protect both parties.Are we friends for the sake of the church, for the sake of a project, for the sake of enjoying a mutual hobby, for the sake of serving the church?Let’s have answer, and let interactions that veer away from that agreed upon purpose remain off-limits.What may be a beautiful and holy male-female friendship in one instance may not be translatable to every male and female, and certainly cannot be absolutized to every male and female. But when the risks have been weighed and the rewarding structures have been established, we can, with a clear conscience, come before God and ask him to bless our friendships with the opposite sex. And like all beautiful things, it requires patient investment, open-handed humility, ruthless selflessness and self-awareness, and self-control.This confidence is earned through a mature and godly track record: “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). Paul encourages us, “Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality” (Romans ).