Can men and women have close friends with the opposite gender? It depends upon the person and their background, I believe. If a person can’t get past the sexual attraction, they will have a hard time with their impulses. Or if a person comes from a religious or cultural background where women and men are separate socially or the belief system says to not look upon the opposite sex, it might be too difficult to overcome that taboo, at least in the person’s mind.
I have always had friendships with the opposite gender, but there are rules I live by. If I am around men who also understand the unspoken rules, then that friendship can develop.
What are those rules? For me at least, these are the rules:
- View the other person as a person first, not by their gender. It is easy to do as long as the other person could be my brother, uncle or father. Occasionally, someone comes along whose virility makes it hard to do. I went to a cardiologist this past week, and almost fainted when the man walked into the room. In defense of myself, I would wager 90% of women feel the same way when they see him. Keeping that in mind, I recovered quickly, although I must be careful not to have heart problems in the future! (I’m afraid tests would reveal my deception.)
- When attractions do occur, it is wise to remember that it will go away after some struggling with the emotions. I really believe satan puts extra pressure on two people when there is some valid reason why the attraction can’t go anywhere, like one or both are married or in a relationship with someone else. Remembering that it is disrespectful to others, and dishonoring to one’s own dignity and self-worth to give in to temptation helps me get past any rash and unwise decisions. Like I said, it will pass.
- Keep the mind clean. I know many people would disagree with me, and that a little imagination without acting on it is harmless. I find if I allow my mind to dabble in anything that doesn’t need to become reality, I’ve set myself up for a lot of torment. And it isn’t just with sexual thought; it’s with anger, revenge, self-loathing, etc. The mind is where the seed is planted.
- Limit time alone with the opposite gender. Not only does it open doors to temptation, it also causes speculation for others if you are interested in keeping a good reputation. Think of the other person’s reputation, as well. If you care about them, do what is right for them. Stay outside or in public places where there are not questions of propriety.
And I believe it is okay to love another person. It needs to be the pure kind, without expectations or demands, thinking of the best good for the other person. I have loved several people in my life, men and women. I have loved several men, but haven’t believed I should marry them. And I believe those men loved me back. I also believe God was okay with it, because we didn’t sin. Perhaps we should all learn how to love like that, and overcome the gender obstacles.
Does my husband have a problem with my viewpoint? No, he trusts me to do what is right. And he knows my relationship with my Lord is so precious I couldn’t stand before Him with guilt in my heart. It’s like a double-whammy.