Abstain from every form of evil.
–1 Thessalonians 5:22
Remind [all of the believers] to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy to all people.
If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations–“Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)–according to human precepts and teachings? These all have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.
Therefore, beloved, sin you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.
–2 Peter 3:14
So, I ask: How close is too close?
I have not have had a ton of very close friends in my life, but the ones to whom I have gotten close, I have gotten very close. I see this as a plus in my life, especially since my friendships have been healthy and holy, despite the vast majority of those friendships having been with guys. Many guys I’ve met who struggle with homosexuality tend to be hesitant to be close with another guy for fear of emotional dependency or of falling sexually. This is a pitfall I have carefully avoided with some planning and some good old-fashioned “I’m just not wired that way to think like that in the moment.”
My best friend and I spent the entire summer together. Throwing in on top of everything that I actually had a crush on him for a while during the summer and you have what many would consider to be a perfect storm. And yet, nothing happened. We had articulated boundaries that we adhered to, but even those strike me almost along the lines of Paul’s comments to the Colossian church, possibly even going as far as to say as such boundaries can lead to a form of godliness but lacking its power (2 Timothy 3:5).
Before anyone jumps my case about dismissing articulated boundaries so casually (which in fact, I’m not…I’m arguing something completely different), I am interested more in the underlying principle: the gospel.
I told my best friend that I am only able to be friends with him because of the Gospel. This means that without Christ having bought me and causing me, from within, to will and work for His good pleasure, I could never be friends with him. This was what hymn-writer William Cowper calls “love constraining to obedience.”
- If I am spending time with him, supervised and un-supervised, what is my responsibility to the Body of Christ?
- If I am accountable to an elder at my church who knows about both of us, is that enough?
- As an SSA man, am I allowed under Christian ethics/mores to spend time one-on-one with another man?
- Does the dynamic change if a friend (perhaps not a “best” friend but surely a close friend) happens to be female?
- What changes when she’s married?
- What changes when her husband is aware of my issues and gives the friendship blessing?
As a Christian man who has responsibilities in his local congregation as a leader, these are important questions to ask. I title my post as such somewhat hesitantly because I am fully aware of what that question means to some people, de facto. However, my purpose is neither to establish a legalistic reading of Scripture, nor to promote an antinomian approach to Christian freedom. Rather, I am striving to know what my sexual preferences mean in terms of the spirit of the law since the letter of it doesn’t always seem to fit my specific context.
And feedback is, of course, welcomed.