The friendships we cultivate enrich and bless our lives with laughter, love and support through some of our most celebrated and difficult experiences. Friends can build us up and encourage us or help us see the error of our ways. They can also be a pillar of strength in our weakest moments as well as share in new and exciting adventures.
As Christians, God charges us to love one another and this commandment certainly extends to our friends. However, there are several ways opposite sex friendships can endanger and in some cases lead to the breakdown of a marriage.
Sanctity Of Marriage
Marriage is a holy and sacred union in the eyes of God and marital vows should never be taken lightly.
Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the bed be undefiled: but God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterers. —Hebrews 13:4
If a spouse engages in an opposite sex friendship, the potential exists for the relationship to cross an inappropriate emotional or physical line which could lead to a violation of marriage vows. While spouses should certainly trust one another, it is not necessarily smart to put yourself in a situation that could compromise or put your spouse’s trust to the test.
It’s best to evaluate and examine your motivation for maintaining an opposite sex friendship as a married person. In considering the scriptural charge for marriage to be held in honor, ask yourself if your relationship in any way dishonors your marriage or teeters on dishonoring it. For instance, do you flirt with each other, even in jest? Do you share a romantic past or unrequited crush with your friend? If the answer is yes, then you probably need to forsake the friendship in order to honor your marriage.
A Spiritual Union
The Bible addresses the spiritual aspect of the marital union:
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” —Genesis 2:24
Two lives, two hearts, two bodies and two souls merge to become one.
Jesus emphasizes this point:
“So that they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, don’t let man tear apart.” —Matthew 19:6
In this regard, an opposite sex friendship could cause a rift in the spiritual union formed by God in the bond of holy matrimony. In an effort to protect that bond and promise to your spouse, it’s probably not a great idea to spend extended amounts of time or have in-depth intimate conversations with a friend from the opposite sex. This kind of emotional intimacy should be reserved for your spouse. The flesh is weak and subject to all manner of temptation. Setting boundaries and establishing limits in opposite sex friendships will help you stay true to yourself, your spouse and your faith.
Finally, while friends are a valuable part of our lives, when you get married, your spouse should be your chief source of counsel, advice and support. You should desire and actively seek ways to please and honor your spouse. In short, your spouse should be your best friend.
If you consistently turn to a member of the opposite sex for advice, emotional support or even just to hang out with and have a cup of coffee, you could endanger or hinder your marriage. Building a strong marriage takes time, commitment and a conscious effort from both parties and God expects you to have the utmost regard and respect for each other.
“Nevertheless each of you must also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” —Ephesians 5:33
So, as cherished as a friend may be, your spouse should be cherished more. If a friend from the opposite sex threatens your marriage, distresses your spouse, causes trust issues or presents temptation, then do whatever it takes to follow God’s Word to love your spouse and honor your marriage. This should be the most important relationship (besides your personal relationship with the Lord) that you foster in your life.
Would you want your future or current spouse to have in intimate spiritual bond with a member of the opposite sex? There are certain dynamics between men and women that should not be overlooked or underestimated. Use discretion, pray about it, consult the Scriptures and ask a pastor if you’re still in doubt.