I went to the conference thinking that the main question I was asking was: "Are Harry and Sally wrong? Can men and women truly be friends?" And it turns out that there are so many more related questions that play into the answer to that question. This isn't an exhaustive list by any means, but here are a few I think worth asking:
- If men and women can be 'just' friends (tho true friends might consider the word 'just' to be an insult to their friendship), what does that look like? What should it look like?
- What informs our beliefs about our gut answer to that question?
- How do our social and gender constructs not only influence our beliefs about friendship, but our reading of Scripture?
- What does the Bible say about friendship between men and women, anyway?
- How does marital status play into friendship? (And what does it say that we tend to categorize people by their marital status (or lack thereof)?)
- How do complementarian and egalitarian viewpoints play into this conversation?
- How many of our relational rules are governed by fear masquerading as 'wisdom'?
- Is there anything inherently wrong with the 'rules' that govern our friendships (especially within the church), whether we're aware of them or not?
- And do the answers to any of these questions matter to God? And if so, why?
But in the interim, I will say this:
- I do believe that it is possible for men and women to be the best of friends, and that all true friendships are marked by honesty, transparency, openness, communication, commitment, integrity, love, appreciation, mutual encouragement and fun (among other things!) - regardless of whether those friendships exist between 2 women, 2 men, or a man and a woman, and regardless of marital status.
- I believe that cultivating cross-gender friendship is an integral part of living into the unity Jesus prayed for the night before He died, and that this kind of unity matters for 2 reasons: 1) it was one of the things foremost in His mind as He was headed towards death and this tells us that unity between us matters to God; and 2) it demonstrates to the world the grace-filled, boundary-breaking love of Jesus in a way that nothing else can.
- And I believe that re-imagining friendship between men and women, especially within the Church, is necessary in order to root up some of the core issues that dis-unify the Church and hinder her witness.
And in the meantime, I'd love to hear from you. What do you think about all this?