Writer Paul Maxwell recently took to desiringgod.org to open up a dialogue surrounding a much-debated subject in Christian circles: the ability (or non-ability) for a healthy—and Godly—friendship to exist between a man and woman of faith. From the get-go, Maxwell admits that, “The question is a powder keg”and highly controversial. The writer continues to concede that “Those who immediately answer ‘yes’ can hurl as many barrels of anecdotal evidence as those who scream ‘no.’”
Within the heated debate that swirls, Maxwell is quick to point out that, even in the Christian community, conflicting opinions are given, each citing different passages that seemingly support opposing viewpoints. “Few treat this as a legitimate issue —opinions are given in a tone that implies that the very question violates common sense,”Maxwell says. “Different answers are given. Different passages are cited. Different hills are constructed and died on.”
Once the broad question, “Can Christian women and men be friends?”is posed, Maxwell follows up this query by attempting to clarify between the various types of male-female friendships that exist, each of which—according to the writer—deserve our unique and separateattention. The four specific relationships Maxwell pinpoints are: A single woman and a married man; a married woman and a single man; a married woman and a married man; and a single woman and a single man.
Maxwell offers up basic questions to ask ourselves regarding a self-survey of each individual male-female connection, including: What do these friendships look like? Should they exist? Does God prohibit them, or are they vital to the body of Christ? Are they obviously inappropriate, or undeniably essential in healthy church community?
After continuing to offer up several more helpful inquiries to line up to each of our male-female friendships in our process of analysis, Maxwell concludes that, “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,”is really the main aim.
He further explains that, “As we ask the question, ‘Can women and men be friends?’ we must realize that each new possibility of a friendship between a woman and a man may require a “no”or “yes”in various circumstances, or at various stages of life.”
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Publication date: December 15, 2016