How Do I Interact with the Opposite Sex Just As a Friend?
At the beginning of this month, I asked you to tell me your most burning questions when it comes to guys, girls and romance. One question that popped up often was, "How do I interact with guys or girls just as a friend/Christian brother or sister?" We also saw a lot of a similar question: "Is it okay to become friends with a guy/girl to see if they'd make a good husband/wife?"
I am so glad you're asking these questions! I want you to understand the difference between standing firm in your commitment to purity (a very, very good thing) and being standoffish toward the guys and girls in your life (not such a good thing). Sometimes ministry leaders (myself included) make the mistake of encouraging firm boundaries so often that we forget to encourage Christ-like interactions with the guys/girls in your life.
Yes, you can have friends who are of the opposite sex and yes, friendship is a great way to discover if someone would make a great spouse. Nowhere in Scripture does God call men and women to be so completely separated that that there is no room for interaction. Also, when we encourage you to wait on God's timing for romance, we aren't saying that you should lock yourself away from the opposite sex.
In fact, Scripture tells us that we are to interact with each other in a loving and warm way regardless of gender. Here's just a taste of what the Bible says about how we are to treat each other:
"Love one another" (John 13:34), and 12 other references.
"Be devoted to one another in love" (Rom. 12:10).
"Honor one another above yourselves" (Rom. 12:10).
"Live in harmony with one another" (Rom. 12:16).
"Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you" (Rom. 15:7).
"Have equal concern for each other" (1 Cor. 12:25).
"Serve one another humbly in love" (Gal. 5:13).
"Carry each other's burdens" (Gal. 6:2).
"Be patient, bearing with one another in love" (Eph. 4:2).
"Be kind and compassionate to one another" (Eph. 4:32).
"Forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you" (Eph. 4:32).
"Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit" (Eph. 5:19).
"Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ" (Eph. 5:21).
"In humility value others above yourselves" (Phil. 2:3).
"Bear with each other" (Col. 3:13).
"Make your love increase and overflow for each other" (1 Thess. 3:12).
"Encourage one another" (1 Thess. 4:18, 5:11).
"Build each other up" (1 Thess. 5:11).
"Encourage one another daily" (Heb. 3:13).
"Spur one another on to love and good deeds" (Heb. 10:24), "Encouraging one another" (Heb. 10:25).
"Love one another deeply, from the heart" (1 Pet. 1:22).
"Be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another" (1 Pet. 3:8).
"Love each other deeply" (1 Pet. 4:8).
"Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling" (1 Pet. 4:9).
"Each one should use whatever gift you have received to serve others" (1 Pet. 4:10).
"Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another" (1 Pet. 5:5).
The Bible clearly teaches us to be warm, kind, and loving toward our Christian brothers and sisters, not cold or standoffish. You can be friends with the opposite sex. In fact, you should be friends with the opposite sex. God has called you to be kind, encouraging, patient, and concerned with all of the people around you regardless of their gender. Putting these skills into practice in your relationships now can only help prepare you for marriage in the future.
Bottom line: treating others well is always okay. They were created in the image of God just like you were. What's more, they are adopted into the same family you are. They are your spiritual brothers and sisters and treating them well isn't just okay, it's commanded.
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