Dating just friends or more
Bottom line: I believe it is difficult and rare — as a practical matter — to honor these principles in the context of a close, intimate friendship between two single Christians of the opposite sex.(For the verbally precise among you, I think such friendships between non-single Christians are also a bad idea, but that’s not what we’re talking about here.) Intimate friendships between men and women almost always produce confusion and frustration for at least one of the parties involved.First Thessalonians 4:1-8 admonishes us not to wrong or “defraud” our brother or sister by implying a marital level of commitment (through sexual involvement) when it does not exist.As I’ve discussed before, a broad (but sound) implication of this passage is that “defrauding” could include inappropriate emotional — as well as physical — intimacy.I admit we’re not talking absolutes here, but almost.
Essentially, the historical reality is that until 30 or 40 years ago, long, intimate friendships between men and women in which each served as the other’s emotional confidante, relationship adviser and “best buddy” were far less common than they are today.
This is especially so in a culture — and a church — that struggles with the widespread sociological trend in its young adults known as “perpetual adolescence.” Albert Mohler, Alex and Brett Harris, Candice Watters and other Boundless authors have written about this trend at length.
In fact, the failure of many Christian men to pursue marriage well into their 20s and 30s may be one of the most disturbing results of this trend, but that’s another topic for another day.
Why risk harm to your own heart or to that of a brother or sister to have a type of companionship that, outside of marriage, is arguably questionable anyway?
This brings me to my second argument against intimate one-on-one friendships between brothers and sisters in Christ. Men and women who are not called to long-term singleness and celibacy have a strong desire for companionship with a member of the opposite sex. As I’ve discussed before, Scripture seems to consider marriage (and children) to be a normal part of the progression toward biblical manhood and womanhood (see, among others, Genesis -28; -24; Matthew -41; Luke -36).
As you probably know, I believe Scripture to teach that engaging in the types of emotional intimacy and companionship involved in close male-female friendships — outside of marriage and for their own sake — is wrong (see else I’ve ever written for Boundless).